Home to the famous Gold Hill, Shaftesbury is a pretty hilltop town.
Shaftesbury’s centre is lined with imposing medieval architecture, with many buildings now occupied by independent shops, cafes and restaurants. The town is steeped in history and is one of the oldest and highest towns in England. From every street and walkway, look out over the spectacular Dorset countryside. The landscape is also said to have inspired the work of Thomas Hardy.
You may recognise the quirky Gold Hill from Ridley Scott’s television advertisement for Hovis bread. Released in the 1970s, the advert portrayed a boy steering his bike up the steep, cobbled hill to deliver bread. Aside the nostalgia of this iconic advert, Gold Hill is an incredibly picturesque part of Shaftesbury. Discover more about this unique attraction at the Gold Hill Museum . Another key historic site is Shaftesbury Abbey. Wander among the ruins of this once magnificent structure, set in beautiful parkland.
Avid walkers will enjoy the route through Shaftesbury and Higher Coombe, stretching for 4 miles across the picturesque countryside of Blackmore Vale and Cranborne Chase. For wildlife spotters, head to Castle Hill, just a short walk from the town centre. Look out for a range of birds, dragonflies and butterflies.
“Shaftesbury is steeped in history and is one of the oldest and highest towns in England.”
If you’re stopping for lunch, head to La Fleur de Lys for a delicious, British meal made with fresh local produce. Tuck into a pan-fried tenderloin of local pork with wild mushrooms, pancetta, crispy parma ham and grain mustard sauce. For a hearty pub lunch or dinner, The Two Brewers serves a mouth-watering menu with dishes including Suffolk cyder battered fish of the day and a spiced lamb burger with grilled halloumi and sweet potato fries. The pub is perfectly situated at the foot of Gold Hill. For a light bite or a delicious coffee and a homemade cake, head to King Alfreds Kitchen. A pretty rural scene in Shaftesbury
If you’d rather pick up some delicious meats, cheeses, vegetables and preserves to create a dish at your cottage, head to the weekly Shaftesbury market. Every Thursday, the market is bustling with local traders selling tasty Dorset food and drink. In the town centre, browse quirky antique, craft and bookshops, all the while surrounded by stunning historic architecture.
Just half an hour away, explore the majestic Sherborne Castle. Perfect for a family day out, this grand structure and its grounds are open to visitors. If you’d like to venture further afield, you’re not too far from Salisbury, Blandford Forum and Sturminster Newton.