Gillingham, Dorset is a Walkers Are Welcome Town

And Sunflowers is a Walkers Are Welcome bed and breakfast provider!

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Walkers are Welcome here

Gillingham was the first town in Dorset to be assessed as a Walkers Are Welcome town, meaning a place which has something special to offer walkers.  At Sunflowers, we proudly display the Walkers Are Welcome sticker on our window and partner with the local walking group to make a stay with us a must for walkers visiting the Blackmore Vale, the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) or walking all or part of the 64 miles of the Stour Valley Way (which actually passes our door).

In addition to providing walkers with our famously comfortable beds, delicious breakfasts (read the feedback!) and a safe, locked storage place for walking poles, we can of course also offer the legendary hot tub – what could be nicer than recovering from a long day of walking with a backpack than a dip in the tub?

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Walking routes around Gillingham, Dorset

As part of our partnership with the Gillingham Walkers group,  they have kindly supplied us with sets of cards which outline eight suggested walking routes, all of which can be started or concluded here at Sunflowers. The routes, which run in length from just over a mile to 6.5 miles, are also available to download online or we can provide you with a hard copy when you visit. The cards are really helpful and well thought out; they contain a map on one side and the reverse contains route directions plus notes of historical interest and observations on what you’ll see as you walk.

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2017 Gillingham Walking Festival

We’re also supporters of the 2017 Gillingham Walking Festival,  which takes place this year from 2nd – 10th September and offers 20 guided group walks. We’d love to meet you if you want to come and stay on your Dorset walking trip – please contact us with your dates or check availability online.

 

 

Celebrating the arrival of Spring at Stourhead House and Gardens, Wiltshire

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Stourhead’s lake

It will soon be time to change the clocks in the UK and “spring forward” by one hour, welcoming in longer, brighter days.  Here at ‘Sunflowers’,  we may be based in Gillingham in north Dorset but we are so close to the counties of Somerset and Wiltshire that it’s no wonder that so many local businesses have the words ‘Three Counties’ in their name.  And one of our very favourite places to visit is just over the county line in Wiltshire – the magnificent National Trust property of Stourhead house and gardens.

The grounds are absolutely stunning all year round but never  more so than in spring – what could be more glorious than a walk around the lake or a hike through the woods to admire the bluebells?  Based just a few miles from Gillingham,  it’s one of the most  popular places for our guests to visit and in fact we have a visitor booked in with us for later this summer who is specifically coming to stay here just so that she can visit Stourhead.

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Stourhead gardens, spring 2016

The photos accompanying this article were taken by me at Stourhead in spring 2016 and I’m looking forward to going back there again soon to take some more shots.  Take a look at the National Trust website to plan your trip to wonderful Stourhead and contact us to book your bed and breakfast stay.

PS: if you come around Easter time,  you can join in the Stourhead Easter egg hunt – see our calendar for details.

Are you running in the 2017 North Dorset Village Marathon and Relay and need somewhere to stay?

north-dorset-village-marathon-2017The North Dorset Village Marathon and Relay takes place on Sunday 30th April 2017 and starts very close to Gillingham, Dorset; runners leave the Sturminster Newton High School at 8.30am.

It’s part of the Dorset Road Race League, is run under UKA rules and is organised by Runners for Runners.  

Described by a commentator on the Runner’s World site as “the best organised, most friendly marathon of the 150 [the writer] has completed so far – outstanding on every front. ANY runner should do this event”, the route is a picturesque race along country lanes through the villages of Hinton St Mary, Marnhull, Stalbridge, Todber, Stour Row, Margaret Marsh, West Orchard, Farrington, Child Okeford and Hammoon.

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Glorious hot tub in Gillingham, Dorset

Please contact us if you’re taking part in the race and need a place to stay – we can guarantee a friendly welcome, an early (and running appropriate) breakfast on the day of the race and,  if you decide to stay with us on the Sunday night too,  a complimentary post-race dip in the hot tub to soothe your muscles!

Launching GillFest 2017 – a community festival for Gillingham, Dorset

The tireless team who organise GillFest 2017 have just launched this year’s programme of events and performers – and there really is something for everyone. If, like me, you are amazed and amused to see the names Pam Ayres, Rick Wakeman and The Manfreds appearing on the same festival programme – then don’t miss out: contact us to make a provisional booking for your accommodation and then book your event tickets online.

Most of the event venues are a short and easy walk from ‘Sunflowers’,  so you don’t even need to worry about parking. Or come to Gillingham by train – it’s a direct and easy journey from London Waterloo on the South West Trains Exeter St David’s line and we are a short walk/cab ride from the railway station.

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The Town Meadow in Gillingham, Dorset

In addition to a very diverse range of musical performers (one of whom is already booked in to stay with us!), GillFest will also offer an organised ramble (Gillingham is a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town – take a look at our walking page for further details about what this means)  on Saturday 1st July and a town fete on the Meadow, pictured here, on Saturday 8th July.

We’re excited to showcase our lovely town and some of the talented residents during GillFest 2017,  which runs from 30th June to 9th July.  Please contact us to book your bed and breakfast accommodation and we look forward to meeting you.

Planning a trip to Gillingham, Dorset? Take a look at our events calendar

Today we launch our local calendar page of forthcoming events and activities, aimed at helping you plan your trip to this beautiful corner of north Dorset.  If,  like Suzanne who left us this feedback, you’re also looking for a reason to come and stay at ‘Sunflowers’, then take a peep at the calendar,  which features details and links to events in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Cleo made us feel incredibly welcome in her beautiful home. There’s not one thing she hadn’t thought of. Would thoroughly recommend and am thinking of a reason to return to Gillingham so we can stay again!

We’ll be updating the calendar throughout the year,  so if you don’t see something which appeals or if the dates don’t work for you,  keep checking back to see what’s been added.

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2016 Winner!

We do already have guests booked in at various points right the way through to October 2017, so please don’t miss out if you do fancy attending the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show on 16th August or the incredibly popular (and totally brilliant, award winning) Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival on 9th and 10th September, to name but two of the events for which we were fully booked last year.

And – as huge foodies ourselves,  we know that attending Dorset’s amazing food and drink festivals is as much about what you buy to take home with you as it is about tasting the lovely local produce when you’re there.  So if you do go to any of the food festivals,  we’ll be happy to store your shopping safely in the fridge until you check out and/or provide you with plates, glasses and tableware if you want to have a picnic here. Just ask!

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Many of the events are dog friendly

Please check out the calendar, decide what sounds fun and then contact us to book. We look forward to chatting soon.