Discover the Heart of Wessex Line
7 must-see destinations

The Heart of Wessex Line is one of the most scenic train routes in England. It runs all the way from buzzing Bristol to Weymouth on the Dorset coast. Rich in history and culture, including the stunning Roman Baths and the Westbury White Horse, the route was once home to literary heavyweights, including Jane Austen, Mary Shelley and Thomas Hardy.

Visit the Heart of Wessex Line to explore the area’s celebrated countryside, with easy access to several charming towns and villages. Here are seven must-see destinations along the way.

Read more about top Heart of Wessex destinations by downloading our handy leaflet here.

Bristol

This vibrant city is perfect for a short break, full of great fun attractions, including the local history museum M Shed, the historic Brunel-designed ship SS Great Britain, and Arnolfini, Bristol’s contemporary arts centre.

Bath

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bath is best known for its Georgian architecture and Roman Baths. It’s full of top-flight attractions, including Bath Abbey, the Royal Crescent and the Pump Room – perfect for a spot of afternoon tea.

Bradford on Avon

The picturesque market town, centred around its Norman-era bridge, is a top place for shopping and enjoying a river-side coffee. Visit the impressive 14th century Tithe Barn, just a short walk from the station, and marvel at its curved timber roof.

Castle Cary

This historic market town is home to some charming landmarks, such as the 19th century Market House and the thatched-roofed George Hotel. Castle Cary is also a great place for picking up good-quality local produce, making it ideal for a spot of shopping when in town.

Yeovil

The sizeable town of Yeovil, centred around the Church of St John the Baptist, with its impressive traceried windows and sturdy tower, is home to a theatre, art galleries and a famous football club.

Dorchester

The historic county town of Dorchester was famously portrayed as the semi-fictional Castlebridge in Thomas Hardy’s celebrated novel. It’s full of stunning architecture and historic locations, including the Maumbury Rings, an ancient earthwork and amphitheatre, and the formidable The Keep Military Museum.

Weymouth

What could be better than a trip to the seaside? Weymouth has an excellent beach just a short distance from the centre of town, making it one of the most popular destinations on the map. There’s still plenty of peacefulness to be found, especially when you visit out of season.

Thomas Hardy country

Thomas Hardy, the famous English novelist and poet, author of Jude the Obscure and The Mayor of Casterbridge, has strong ties with the area, and lived in the region for most of his life. He drew inspiration from his time in Dorset, including his childhood outside Dorchester. Here are some Thomas Hardy highlights along the Heart of Wessex Line.

Hardy’s Cottage

This thatched cottage in Higher Bockhampton, near Dorchester, is where Hardy was born and spent his early years. The cottage has been preserved as a museum and is open to visitors.

Max Gate

Hardy’s Dorchester house was especially designed by the author and served as his home for over 30 years. Visitors can explore the house and learn about Hardy’s life and work.

Hardy Trail

This scenic walking trail takes visitors through some of the landscapes and locations that inspired Hardy’s novels and poems. The trail passes through the rolling hills of Dorset, past ancient earthworks and along the stunning coast.

Dorset Museum

The Dorchester-based museum has an extensive collection of Thomas Hardy artifacts and memorabilia, including manuscripts, letters, photographs and more.