As the famous Hovis ‘Boy on the Bike’ advert appears on our TV screens once again, we take a closer look at what there is to see and do on that iconic cobble stoned hill, which contrary to popular belief, is not in the north of England but right here in Dorset!
“'Twas like taking bread to the top of the world”
In the heart-warming Hovis advert, a boy pushes his bicycle up a steep, cobbled hill to deliver a loaf of bread before freewheeling back down to the bakers to the soundtrack of Dvorak’s New World Symphony. The nostalgic commercial is regularly voted Britain’s favourite of all time.
The advert has been digitally remastered by the British Film Institute in conjunction with its original creator Sir Ridley Scott and its score of Dvorak’s New World Symphony has been re-recorded by a new generation of the original Ashington Colliery brass band.
The real Hovis Hill
Cobbles, a flat cap and a brass band - you’d be forgiven for assuming that the street featured in the advert was somewhere in northern England but the real ‘Hovis Hill’ is actually Gold Hill in Shaftesbury, Dorset.
The view looking down from the top of this picturesque street has been described as "one of the most romantic sights in England" and often appears on the covers of books, calendars and chocolate boxes.
To see the hill with your own eyes however is a sight to behold and will truly take your breath away. Make sure you've got your camera to hand, this is a view not to be missed.
There’s much to see and do at Gold Hill and it makes for a great day out; at the top of the street is the 14th-century St Peter's Church, one of the few buildings remaining in Shaftesbury from before the 18th century.
Adjacent to the church is the Gold Hill Museum, set in two historic buildings. One was once the priest’s house and still has a “squint” through the wall to St Peter’s church; the other provided basic lodgings for traders at the market on Gold Hill.
The ancient cobbled street runs beside the Grade I listed walls of the ancient Shaftesbury Abbey built by King Alfred the Great.
The excavated foundations of this once important and influential Abbey lie in a peaceful walled garden, with an extensive herb garden and medieval orchard. The Shaftesbury Abbey Museum brings to life the story of Saxon England’s foremost Benedictine nunnery which acted as the catalyst for the prosperity of the town and surrounding area for over 650 years until it was destroyed on the orders of Henry VIII in 1539.
There are many glorious walks to be enjoyed around Gold Hill, giving you chance to enjoy the lovely mix of thatched and stone properties in the town, quiet country lanes and the two main view points in the town where you’ll enjoy views stretching northwest to Glastonbury Tor and south to Melbury Hill and beyond.
Events for the whole family
If you are after some fun events to entertain the whole family, there’s plenty going on throughout the year in and around Shaftesbury.
Each year in July the town hosts the Gold Hill Fair, a lively weekend with music, dance, local foods, crafts and more on the famous cobbled hill and throughout the town.
Early summer sees food, arts and music festivals followed by the Gillingham and Shaftesbury Show and Great Dorset Steam Fair in August, the Gillingham Walking Festival, Heavy Horse Show and Country Fair and the Sturminster Newton Cheese Festival which all take place in September. Shaftesbury's long running carnival takes place at the end of September.
Stay in a part of Dorset that is pure nostalgia
Just like the Hovis advert, take the chance to savour life’s simple pleasures, take time out and wander cobbled streets and enjoy delicious local fayre.
There’s plenty of places to stay in and around Shaftesbury where you can step back in time from tumbledown cottages to working farms.
Feeling tempted? Start planning and book your perfect Dorset break today.