Enjoy a short walk around the Dorset town of Shaftesbury with a climb to Gold Hill, made famous from the Hovis adverts of the 1970s. The 1973 'Boy on Bike' ad was voted Britain's favourite advertisement of all time. It was directed by Ridley Scott, and includes the distinctive main theme of Antonin Dvorak's Symphony No. 9. The walk climbs the hill on an ancient cobbled street running beside the Grade I listed walls of Shaftesbury Abbey built by King Alfred the Great in the 14th century. After climbing Gold Hill the route heads to Castle Hill for more great views over the Cranborne Chase AONB and the beautiful Blackmore Vale.
The walk starts at the bottom of Gold Hill in the town centre. It's a steep climb up the cobbled hill so a reasonable level of fitness is required. There's rows of pretty cottages and wonderful views over the surrounding countryside to enjoy from the top. Here you will find the 14th century St Peter's Church, one of the few buildings remaining in Shaftesbury from before the 18th century. Also at the hill top you can visit the Gold Hill Museum which displays many artefacts relating to the history of Shaftesbury including Dorset's oldest fire engine, dating from 1744.
After enjoying the views the walk then heads to the nearby Castle Hill, another highlight of the town. The hill includes grassy slopes, wetland areas and pockets of woodland. There's fabulous views of the Wiltshire and Dorset countryside including King Alfred's Tower and the long wooded line of Penselwood Ridge.
There's lots of other nice walks to try near Shaftesbury. Just to the west you can enjoy woodland cycling and walking trails at Duncliffe Wood. A climb to the nearby Fontmell and Melbury Downs is also not to be missed.
The long distance Wessex Ridgeway Trail also starts just to the east of the town.
Other Walks around Shaftesbury
- Fontmell and Melbury Downs - Enjoy a variety of beautiful flora and fauna in this nature reserve in Compton Abbas on the Dorset/Wiltshire border
- Win Green Hill - Climb to the highest point in the Cranborne Chase AONB and enjoy wonderful views over Shaftesbury, Salisbury Plain, Glastonbury Tor, the Mendips, the Quantocks, the Purbecks and the south coast
- Wessex Ridgeway Trail - Follow the Wessex Ridgeway Trail and enjoy specatular views of the Dorset countryside on this shared walking and cycling path
- Duncliffe Wood - Explore miles of cycling and walking trails in this large area of ancient woodland near Shaftesbury