Gillingham is a small town in north Dorset, which lies a few miles from the A303 (so it is a perfect place to break your journey to or from Devon and Cornwall) within the lovely Blackmore Vale. A broad stretch of gently rolling countryside, the Vale falls between the Cranborne Chase ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ to the east and the chalk Dorset Downs to the south, with the River Stour flowing along the valley. ‘Sunflowers’ is based on the Wyke side of the town, approximately a ten minute walk from the railway station or a similar length drive from the A303. And there’s such a wealth of things to see and do in Dorset that we often find we’re spoiled for choice.
Just let us know what appeals and we’ll be happy to advise and suggest itineraries to suit your interests. And please read our feedback page to see what other guests have enjoyed doing in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire, or take a look at the events calendar.
A few ideas might include: walks in and around the immediate vicinity of the house (we are on the Stour Valley Way and Gillingham is a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town); a visit to the Gillingham museum, complete with a special display of the paintings of John Constable, who often visited and sketched here; a trip to local beauty spots such as the ancient hill top Saxon town of Shaftesbury, complete with its famous Gold Hill (of Hovis bread advertisement fame); local National Trust jewel Stourhead House and gardens plus its folly, Arthur’s Tower; a visit to Sherborne, its castle and Capability Brown designed garden, Abbey and antique shops; a trip to one of the regular farmers’ markets or perhaps try and visit us during the famous Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival or Wimborne Food Festival if you’re a foodie.
Or how about a drive down to the famous Dorset Jurassic Coast – resorts include Lulworth Cove, Weymouth, Bournemouth, Poole, Studland, Bridport, West Bay (home of TV series ‘Broadchurch‘) and fossil hunting paradise Lyme Regis; a trip to Bruton, Longleat or to Glastonbury, which offers lots more than just the famous festival; a spot of retail therapy at Clark’s Village in Street; a visit to Stonehenge, just up the A303; or a mooch around the lovely ancient city of Salisbury, with its famous cathedral, just two stops away by train. Other recommended local National Trust locations include: Kingston Lacy, Montacute House, Lytes Cary Manor and Barrington Court. By way of a contrast, other members of your group may enjoy a trip to Monkey World, the Tank Museum, Haynes’ Motor Museum or the Fleet Air Arm Museum – all are within an easy drive of ‘Sunflowers’.
For literary fans, Gillingham is referenced in Thomas Hardy’s novel “Jude the Obscure” as Leddenton and there are many other Hardy spots around his fictional area of “Wessex” to visit; Shaftesbury features in “Tess of the D’Urbervilles” as Shaston, for example. We have a number of Dorset based novels available for you to borrow, including the book and DVD of “Jude the Obscure” plus other works by local authors such as John Fowles.