If there is somewhere in England that is more picturesque than Shaftesbury, I've yet to come across it. The beautiful cobblestoned street of Gold Hill is famous for featuring in Ridley Scott's 1970s Hovis bread television ad (and is therefore also known as Hovis Hill), gracing the front of many a chocolate box, and can even be seen on the cover of J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy.
Shaftesbury is a picture-perfect English town in Dorset, with old-fashioned cottages running along famous Gold Hill, a beautiful abbey and stunning panoramic views over the nearby hills creating a very idyllic experience for visitors.
Of course Gold Hill is its most famous feature, and climbing the steep incline you can see why. Save a single real estate sign outside one of the old-fashioned houses, it feels like you've gone back in time (or at the very least are wandering around a very detailed set for a Victorian-era film), while enjoying the beautiful scenic views of the English countryside.
Gold Hill isn't the only attractive part of Shaftesbury though. It's a lovely little town to wander around in and soak up the idyllic atmosphere, and another place that is well worth visiting within is the Shaftesury Abbey Museum & Gardens. It is located on the site of the former Shaftesbury Abbey, which was founded in 888 by King Alfred before being destroyed in 1539 by the Dissolution of the Monestaries.
We were very lucky that when we visited (a Bank Holiday weekend), not only did we get to enjoy the Abbey history in the museum and the lovely gardens, but there were also activities transporting us straight back to to the Middle Ages. Particularly fun to watch was the archery and we of course had to have a go at that ourselves (and we weren't half bad either!).
Shaftesbury is about a 2.5 hour drive from London and we visited on a weekend trip that also included the nearby Salisbury, Stonehenge, Highcliffe Castle, and Bath. This combination of destinations made for a perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city to soak up some rich history, and the rolling English countryside along the way.