Hardy’s Mellstock (Stinsford Parish) has changed very little in the 179 years since he was born – the human population has dwindled although the number of dwellings has more than doubled. Mellstock is best explored on foot starting in the territory of his first novel, Desperate Remedies,where Knapwater House and the Old Manor still match Hardy’s descriptions. From here you can follow his childhood route from Dorchester to the farmyard of ‘The Oxen’, built by Hardy’s father, and then along Veteran’s Alley through the landscape of Under the Greenwood Tree to Hardy’s Cottage, Tranter Dewy’s home. Return across the heath to Rushy Pond and Lower Mellstock, following in the footsteps of the Mellstock Quire to reach Mellstock church and graveyard. Here his heart lies buried between the bodies of his two wives and beside his siblings and generations of his ancestors, close by the earthly remains of many of the ‘original characters’ from this ‘partly real partly dream country’.