If you're looking for a countryside getaway this autumn, we can't recommend Shaftesbury highly enough. From late September through to bonfire night the town and its surroundings are beautifully atmospheric.
Hoping for crunchy leaves underfoot, hedges laden with berries and the scent of woodsmoke in the air? You'll love this little corner of the world in autumn. Here's our definitive guide to a restorative weekend in and around Shaftesbury.
F R I D A Y E V E N I N G
If the weather is dry, or you have a dog with you, we'd recommending heading to Win Green. This chalky hill is a 15 minute drive from Shaftesbury and then a level walk from the car park. Head to the circle of beech trees and listen to the wind rushing through the leaves. Gaze back towards Shaftesbury and watch the sun set while you're surrounded with the varied flowers and grasses which thrive on the chalk downland.
A great spot to exercise a dog but be aware there are sometimes cattle grazing nearby. If you fancy dinner with a view, take a picnic or pick up fish and chips as you leave town. They'll still be hot by the time you get there!
If you're without a car or the weather is inclement, you'll be better off taking refuge in one of Shaftesbury's pubs. The Grosvenor Arms is in the heart of town with log fires, an ever-changing cocktail menu and a fun, buzzy feel. Book a table for dinner or have a pizza in the bar area, if you want to keep things simple.
S A T U R D A Y
For a breakfast that'll keep you going we can recommend The Salt Cellar. Set underneath the town hall with a view directly over the famous Gold Hill. The food is flawless and unfussy and the service fast and friendly. Worth booking and don't be shy about asking for a window seat so you can stare down the cobbles while you feast.
You may be needing to stretch your legs by this point and Shaftesbury's Tree Walk is a lovely 30 minute loop that takes you by some of the oldest and most interesting trees in town. You'll see views from each side of the hill Shaftesbury's perched on, stretching towards the coast in the south and across to Glastonbury Tor in the north. Don't miss the charmingly named 'Love Lane' and keep an eye out for cheeky squirrels on Pine Walk.
All shops in Shaftesbury are open on Saturdays but only a handful open on a Sunday, so it's worth making a beeline for them today. Find us at the top of town and be sure to give yourself time to walk all the way down the High Street, not forgetting Swan's Yard which is halfway down the town.
Pick up supplies for dinner from The Shaftesbury Deli, or if you're lucky enough to be here on the first Saturday of the month you can shop at the Farmers' Market. Don't miss Reeve The Baker. Their sourdough bread is fantastic and keeps well.
If you love digging around for treasures, there are two sizeable antiques centres, Kingsettle Antiques and Dairy House Antiques, around a 10 minute drive from town. Whether you're looking for a piece of furniture, art, collectables or garden planters they're a great way to while away an hour or so.
S U N D A Y
Rustle yourself up some breakfast and then head out to one of our favourite corners of town. The French Mill Circular Walk, put together by our friends and fellow shopkeepers at Folde Dorset, is absolutely magical in the autumn and winter. Take something to fill with blackberries as the hedges are often heavy with fruit.
If time allows, head to The Grosvenor Arms for a roast dinner before going home. The portions are generous but not overwhelming with lots of tasty veg that'll set you up for the week.
Find accommodation recommendations, more places to eat and unmissable shops in Shaftesbury here. Something you'd love to know? Reach out to us - we're always happy to help!