One of the things I love about having National Trust membership is being able to use it to break up long car journeys. A stop-off at a National Trust property is so much nicer than stopping at service stations. It’s been a while since we last used our National Trust membership though. The last time was on our last holiday with Jessica, when we visited Bembridge Windmill. I hadn’t been able to face visiting any of our usual places, or previous stop-off points without her.
Nearly nine months on, we were heading home from our first family holiday without Jessica. Being at Coombe Mill had been just what was needed to make a difficult festive period a little easier. We were heading off to visit my family in Hampshire and decided to break up the journey with a visit to Hardy’s Cottage near Dorchester.
Entry to the cottage and garden is by timed ticket only. It is about a 15-minute walk from the visitor centre to the cottage. Traffic delays meant that we were later arriving than we’d hoped. It was 3pm when we finally pulled in to the car park; too late for the last entry to the cottage which was at 3.15pm that day. The woods around the cottage are open any time though so we headed through the woods towards the cottage for a walk.
There are several trails through the woodlands around Hardy’s Cottage. We followed the pink path which is the shortest trail, leading straight to Hardy’s Cottage. This path is accessible for buggies although is quite steep in places.
We had to stop a few times on the way as Sophie complained that there was something in her wellies. This is a frequent grumble with her on walks. I’ve never known a child get stones in wellies so often! Most of the time we go to empty her welly and there doesn’t seem to be anything there that we can see. Still, it fixes the problem – at least for a few minutes anyway!
It was a shame that we were too late to visit the cottage itself – it looked so pretty from the outside. The path took us along the back wall of the cottage towards a memorial. This was a good place to stop for a snack and to feed Thomas who was starting to grumble!
While we were sitting there, a little robin came over to say hello. It perched on a branch for a while looking at Sophie and singing away. I often think robins are one of the signs Jessica sends us to let us know she is near and I wasn’t surprised at all to see this one. It made me smile to see it singing at Sophie.
The sun was starting to set as we headed back to the car. It looked so pretty shining through the trees.
Sophie started to get a little tired on the way back, especially with the path being quite steep in places. Pretending one of the uphill sections was a mountain to climb helped encourage her on though.
A short walk through the woods was a lovely way to break up our journey. I’d quite like to come back again though to visit the cottage and explore some of the other paths through the woods.
Visiting Hardy’s Cottage – what you need to know:
Hardy’s Cottage is open most days from 11am. Closing times vary depending on the season. For information about opening times, visit the website here.