Back in June, my husband put together a surprise trip to London for me. Well, I knew we were going to London, but had no idea what activities were planned. It was incredibly liberating to turn the reins over to someone else to arrange everything, and when he asked if I wanted something similar for my birthday/wedding anniversary, I jumped at the chance.
This was how I found myself in Shaftesbury, which was unexpected for a number of reasons. The first was its location. If you had asked me last month to identify its position on a map, I probably would have pointed somewhere to the north. Yorkshire perhaps? But no, it’s actually in Dorset. Also unexpected was the area’s geology; built on a plateau over 700 feet above sea level, it has spectacular views over the surrounding Blackmore Vale. Great for taking pictures, but the flipside of this is that it is exposed to the wind. During our visit the weather was clear, bright, and cold, causing our faces to grow numb as we explored the historic town.
Founded in the 880s by King Alfred, its Abbey was one of the richest in the country before Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the monasteries. In the 20th century, its fortunes were made from Gold Hill. This quaint street featured in Ridley Scott’s Hovis bread advertisement and has been pulling in tourists ever since. The rest of the town was just as charming and, despite the frozen faces and frozen fingers, it was great to investigate places such as Park Hill, the site of some incredible vantage points, or the Cygnet Gallery, a shop for local artists to display their wares.
But little did I know that Shaftesbury was just the tip of the iceberg and our adventure was just beginning. Tune in on Tuesday to read more.