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.
Shaftesbury Ordnance Survey Map - view and print off detailed OS map
Shaftesbury Open Street Map - view and print off detailed map
Shaftesbury OS Map - Mobile GPS OS Map with Location tracking
Shaftesbury Open Street Map - Mobile GPS Map with Location tracking
Walks near 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 spectacular views of the Dorset countryside on this shared walking and cycling path.
The trail begins at Tollard Royal in Wiltshire and heads to Hambledon Hill passing through Ashmore Wood and crossing the River Iwerne on the way
- Duncliffe Wood - Explore miles of cycling and walking trails in this large area of ancient woodland near Shaftesbury
- Stourhead - The 1,072 hectare (2,650 acre) Stourhead estate has miles of lovely walking trails to try. You can follow the well surfaced footpaths around the stunning lake and into the surrounding woodlands, parkland and gardens
- Sturminster Newton - This Dorset based town has some lovely river and country walks with historic mills and local pockets of woodland to visit as well
- Hod Hill - This circular walk climbs to the Hod Hill fort from Stourpaine in Dorset.
- Tollard Royal - This Wiltshire based village is in a nice location for exploring the woodland and countryside of the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Further Information and Other Local Ideas
To the north west of the town you'll find one of the major highlights of the area at Stourhead. The National Trust property is surrounded by a wonderful estate with gardens, lakes and woodland to explore.
For more walking ideas in the area see the Dorset Walks page.