Where is Wessex?

Wessex Wyvern

Well that is a tricky one!!

Depends on whether you are King Alfred the Great or the modern Wessex Water Board or anything in between! The boundaries of the region were ever changing over the centuries.

Some say it is the area of the very distinctive broad west country dialect that is found from Devon to Hampshire. Also considered the real language of England, it was the speech of the Anglo Saxons that was superseded by the French Norman England of William the Conqueror.

It was the region of the Anglo Saxons with Winchester at one time capital of England and Alfred the Great as king. Or the boundaries when Edward the Confessor became King in 1042.

Wessex Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy considered it to be Dorset, Hampshire, Berkshire, Wiltshire, Devon and Somerset. Hardy was most interested in the concept of a Wessex region.

In the modern world there is even a political party, The Wessex Regionalist Party, they want the area to be a region. Their version is Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

The Wessex Society include Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Oxfordshire as well. The Wessex Constitutional Convention excludes Herefordshire.

We will go for the dialect, that wonderful brogue, so well known and distinctive - Devon, Dorset, Hampshire, Somerset, Wiltshire and because of modern geography we will include the Isle of Wight, They might be annoyed however, as with the south of Hampshire they were a Jutish region!

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The counties of this incredible region

So much diversity. Attractive ancient cities and towns. Even more ancient, mysterious standing stones. Quaint, sleepy villages meandering along pretty narrow winding lanes. Misty moorland. Footpaths, cycle ways, horse trails, all through invitingly beautiful countryside. Farmland, fields, woods and plains stretching for miles. Streams rippling and sparkling in the sunshine. There is the stunning South West Coastal Path that runs for over 600 miles along the coastline. Once a track the coastguards used when watching for smugglers. A walk to do in day size bits! Well worth it!

The region may be ancient in time, but it is as modern as tomorrow.

As administrative county boundaries change, the counties on this site are the arrangement of the ceremonial counties.

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From the rocky northern coastline to the English Riviera in the south. (There is a cycleway, the Sustrans NN27, Devon Coast to Coast, that runs from Ilfracombe to Plymouth - or vice versa.) Mystic Dartmoor with its standing stones. Exmoor to the north of the county and partly in Somerset. Ruby country in between, lovely Devon farmland.

Drakes Island, Plymouth Sound

Drakes Island, Plymouth Sound
Photograph © Stuart Wilding

Devon has two main cities Exeter and Plymouth plus a host of small towns each with their own ambience, charm and character. Some along the coast like Torquay, Brixham, and Paignton. Some are moorland towns like Okehampton, Ancient Lydford with its beautiful gorge or Sticklepath of the Fireshow fame. Plus many other towns dotted around the county like Newton Abbot, Teignmouth, Sidmouth, Exmouth and so many more attractive places.

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Kingston Magna

Kingston Magna
Photograph © Chris Downer

An enchanting county. Mostly beautifully rural. Small fields and hedges, winding lanes, pretty villages and towns. Pubs, where you can get a meal, or just a well earned drink. Plenty of footpaths, cycleways and horse trails.The Jurrassic coastline is stunning.

Dorchester the capital of the county. Here is Thomas Hardy country for not far away is Upper Bockhampton where he was born. Spend some pleasurable time in the enticing seaside town of Bournemouth and dearly loved Weymouth with their sandy beaches just asking for sunbathing. Or visit Lyme Regis, the Pearl of Dorset. Or maybe Sherborne in the north. In 2012 The Olympic Sailing events were held at Portland near Weymouth. Try the cliffs above Portland for a stunning view. Dorset is a well kept secret, have a peek. Such a beautiful county.

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Heartbreakingly beautiful. Imagine. Rolling chalk downs, hiding pretty little villages. The Test and Bourne streams wind and divide into streamlets through water meadows sprinkled with wildflowers and weeping willow trees watch over the river. Stand on the bridge and feed the ducks. The Itchen, the Stour, the Test and all the many magic little streams wandering along giving homes to a myriad of fish, otters, water birds and insects.

Ponies in the New Forest

Ponies in the New Forest
Photograph © Jim Champion

The New Forest, ponies, heathland and forest. Bewitching in its beauty. Lovely Lyndhurst, Ringwood and Lymington. East Hampshire - Petersfield set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with Alton close by. North Hampshire, Basingstoke, Aldershot, Farnham. The Test Valley with Andover and Romsey as its centres. Winchester the ancient capital of Wessex and England but now the capital of Hampshire. The coastal cities - Southampton a busy port, Portsmouth a naval port for centuries. Eastleigh where Southampton Airport is situated

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Isle of Wight

A microcosm of delight. A miniature world where nowhere is far from anywhere on the Island. A haven for cyclists and walkers with cycleways and footpaths all over. Try the Round the Island Cycle Route. It is 62 miles, but you do not have to do it in a day if you do not want to. Why not spend a week and look at the island properly! There are events on the island for both walkers and cyclists.

Isle of Wight Coastal Path

Isle of Wight Coastal Path
Photograph © David Smith

Ryde and Cowes are the gateways to the Island. Cowes is of course home to the illustrious sailing event, Cowes Week. The three attractive seaside towns of Sandown, Shanklin and Ventnor decorate the east of the Island. Lovely sandy beaches ideal for family holidays. Newport is the capital, home to the Isle of Wight Festival at Seaclose Park. You must not miss the pretty medieval village of Godshill, south of Newport. Do not forget the camera! Niton is on the south coast while Brightstone, Brook and Freshwater are along the south west coast. Totland, Yarmouth and Gurnard are on the northwest coast.

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Another very diverse and most attractive county. Zummerzet where the zider apples grow! The Mendip Hills and the Quantocks. the green hills of Somerset with the Somerset Levels between. See Blagdon Lake from the top of the Mendips. Chew Lake, a Site of Scientfic Interest. Exmoor juts into Somerset from Devon. Cheddar Cheese. The Glastonbury Festival. So many shades of green. Just a taste of Somerset.

Cheddar Gorge

Cheddar Gorge
Photograph © Oast House Archive

Bristol, a large port city, is geographically sort of in Somerset, but lives alone. Bath and Wells, two famous beautiful Cathedral cities. Pleasant Weston Super Mare where the tide goes so far out. The new pier is open. Burnham on Sea and Clevedon also popular seaside resorts. Taunton is the county town and scene of the famous Taunton Flower Show. Bridgewater at the foot of the Mendips. Yeovil, a town famous for its helicopters. Minehead end, or beginning, of the South West Coastal Path. With many other smaller towns and villages dotting the landscape. A county to explore.

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Perhaps best known for Salisbury and Salisbury Plain. But to leave it at that would be to miss a lot. Salisbury Plain itself is a massive 300 square miles of chalk plateau, well known to many soldiers. The Vales of Avon, Pewsey and Wardour bisect the chalk country.

Chalk Hill Blue Butterfly Wessex

Chalk countryside is the home of the pretty Chalkhill Blue butterfly.

Sites as ancient as Stonehenge and Avebury signify the county's mystical prehistoric roots. Attractive Salisbury with its wonderful, spired cathedral is the only city. Trowbridge is the county town with its popular Festival.

View Over Salisbury from Old Sarum Wessex

View over Salisbury from Old Sarum
Photograph © Copyright L Temple 2008

Wiltshire has many other towns and pretty villages. Swindon in the north, a very modern town these days. Chippenham, a market and commuter town in the west. Devizes in the centre has a very large number of listed buildings which make a most attractive place. Warminster again in the west is a pleasant market town and a pleasant shopping area. It has a bit of a spooky reputation being in the centre of UFO and crop circle legends. Pretty Bradford-on-Avon, military Tidworth, Lacock, and Mere, among many others. Why not visit Longleat or Stourhead.

Wessex has it all.

Magic Wessex RH


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Other pages that may be of interest

Famous People of Wessex

Famous People of Dorchester




Isle of Wight



Events in South West England

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Return from Wessex to Home

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King Alfred the Great RH col

King Alfred beckons

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Useful Information

Events in Wessex

Looking for an event in the Wessex region? There are lots in these pages

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Things change. Always check out the external links for the latest information.

These are just helpful suggestions only.

There is only one affiliate link, SBI.

Travel Wessex is a Guide.

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This is a developing map. Some areas have better coverage.

To find the nearest Electric Vehicle Charging Point please click here.

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Public Transport

National Express

If you do decide the leave the car at home and help the environment too, why not go National Express. They run coaches all over the country. Some pretty good fares too.

Just imagine - sit back and relax, no hassling with the traffic!!!

Do you know that you can book on your mobile phone and they will send the ticket as a text!!!!

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National Rail Journey Planner.

For train journeys all over the United Kingdom connecting the places you want to go efficiently and quickly.

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Traveline is a very useful resource for public transport throughout Wessex, even local buses. In fact all over the United Kingdom.

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Wessex Tudor Cottage, Longparish

Tudor Cottage, Longparish

Wessex Haynes Motor Museum

Haynes Motor Museum

Walking Trails in Devon Buckfast Abbey

Buckfast Abbey

Wessex Devon farmland

Devon Farmland

Wessex View over Plymouth

View over Plymouth

Wessex River Test

River Test

Wessex Above the beach amid the trees

Above the beach amid the trees, Isle of Wight

Wessex HMS Victory

HMS Victory

Wessex Bishop's Palace, Winchester

Bishop's Palace, Winchester.

Wessex Lyme Regis Dorset

Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Wessex Weymouth1


Wessex River Anton, Andover

River Anton, Andover

Wessex Flowers by the river

Flowers by the river at Whitchurch

Wessex Ancient habitat, Dartmoor

Ancient habitat, Dartmoor

Wessex Moretonhampstead


Wessex Lacock


Wessex Ancient Stonework Old Sarum

Ancient stonework, Old Sarum

Wessex Sea View Weston Super Mare

Sea View, Weston Super Mare

Wessex Cottage at the end of the lane

Cottage at the end of the lane

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