A Walk Around The Hardy Monument

The Hardy Monument is perched on a hill in the south of Dorset. Overlooking Chesil Beach, on a clear day it offers fine views for miles. Surrounded by undulating heath and woodland there is a network of footpaths in the area. This makes it perfect for a family walk in Dorset.

Enjoy a short circular stroll from the monument or for longer walk you can connect up with the South Dorset Ridgeway walking trail and even the South West Coast Path.

A Little History of Sir Thomas Hardy

Built in 1844, the clue to the meaning of the moment is in its shape. Look closely and you will see that it is designed to look like a spyglass or telescope. This is because the moment was built to commemorate the life of the Naval Officer Vice Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy.

A veteran of numerous naval battles,  at the age of just 36 he was captain of HMS Victory, the flag ship of Lord Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.  Nelson was shot as he paced the decks with Hardy, and as he lay dying, Nelson’s famous remark of “Kiss me, Hardy” was directed at him.

Hardy Monument walk in Dorset
Hardy Monument steep stairway

Great Views Across Dorset

The Hardy Monument is owned by the National Trust and in 2009 and underwent a 3 year restoration.  Rising 72ft  high it is possible to climb up inside the tower via a narrow spiral staircase for fabulous views. Sadly it wasn’t too clear the day I went. Not for the faint hearted,  the steps up are pretty steep and narrow. Check the National Trust website for access opening times.

Family Walk in Dorset Hardy Monument view

On a really good day you can apparently see to all the way to Start Point in Devon or to St. Catherine’s Point on the Isle of Wight, both over 50 miles away. From the sea it was also designed to be a landmark for shipping. The monument has been shown on navigational charts since 1846 and is visible from a distance of 60 miles out to sea.  Cleverly, its eight corners are aligned with the compass points.

A Family Walk in Dorset

On this occasion we met with some friends and our dogs and enjoyed a lovely leisurely circular walk around the area.

We didn’t have a map so just followed our noses. Fortunately with such a big landmark to return to it’s easy not to get lost. 

Hardy Monument family walk in Dorset

Days Out In Dorset

The monument is an interesting place to visit and can be combined with all sorts of other attractions in the local area,  a trip to the beach or in our case a pub lunch.

If you enjoy history you can explore St Catherine’s Chapel or wander round the pretty village of Abbotsbury, famous for it’s swans.  If you fancy the beach head past the entrance for Abbotsbury Tropical Gardens (another popular attraction) and there is parking and facilities for the beach (part of the large pebble bank that forms the west end of Chesil Beach).

You can also explore the pretty villages and countryside described by the other famous Hardy of the Dorset, the novelist Thomas Hardy, author of Far From the Madding Crowd and Tess of the D’Urbervilles among many other.

Family walk in Dorset in woodland

Parking and Directions

The Hardy Moment is near Abbotsbury in Dorset.

Parking is free for National Trust members or pay and display (£1 per hour or £4 per day). There is an additional charge to access up into the monument when it is open (£3 per person).

There are no toilets or facilities at the site.

The address is Black Down, Portesham, Dorset, DT2 9HY




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More Days Out Ideas

If you enjoyed finding out about this family walk in Dorset and would like to explore other similar places,  why not take a look at Colmer’s Hill near Bridport.

If it’s a wet day then try some of these rainy day ideas in West Dorset. Please be sure to check opening times or booking requirements before travel especially potential closures due to Covid-19.

There are lots more ideas for Devon as well on the blog. 


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