Set 115 mi/185 km southwest of London in southern England's hilly Dorset County, Dorchester is remembered as the setting for Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge. For a complete Hardy tour, visit Max Gate (his home), the Dorset County Museum (one room is dedicated to the author), his birthplace in nearby Higher Bockhampton and his grave in neighboring Stinsford.

Several days could be spent driving around the Dorset coast, visiting small towns and enjoying the scenery. Maiden Castle, 3 mi/5 km southwest of Dorchester, is an earth mound raised in concentric rings—remarkable for its age (about 5,000 years) and its enormous size. Athelhampton House and its 20 acres/8 hectares of grounds is also worth a visit.

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