A hot air balloon ride from Shaftesbury – one of England’s oldest and highest towns – is the ideal way to enjoy views of idyllic rural Dorset.
Blackmore Vale, a valley which runs from south Somerset into Dorset, and the River Stour basin sweep below this hillside town.
A balloon ride with Virgin Balloon Flights from here opens up the landscape so vividly described in the books of Thomas Hardy, who called the fictional version of the town ‘Shaston’.
As well as many fine historical buildings, Shaftesbury has one particularly famous cobbled street. Gold Hill was featured in the famous Hovis bread advert where a boy pushes his loaf-laden bike up the slope to the sound of Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony. Should your hot air balloon float this way, why not imagine the brass band playing as you go?
Dorset is fantastic patchwork of fields, farm land and small forests.
During your flight, you may also spy ancient Wardour Castle, quaint villages like Motcombe, Cherry Orchard and Sturminster Newton and on a clear day maybe even Glastonbury Tor. Towns like Gillingham to the west and Blandford Forum to the south could also come into view.
Our Shaftesbury launch site at Henstridge Airfield is also home to the Yakovlevs Display Team as well as being an active airfield for general aviation aircraft.
Directions from the East
From the A350 at the Ivy Cross Roundabout exit onto the A30 towards Yeovil. Continue through East Stour and West Stour towards Henstridge and after approximately 2.5 miles, turn left (look for a brown “golf course” sign). Continue along this road for half a mile and the airfield entrance is on the left (east side of road).
Directions from the West
From Yeovil, join the A30 towards Shaftesbury. Continue through Henstridge on the A30 and after approximately 1.5 miles, turn right (look for a brown “golf course” sign). Continue along this road for half a mile and the airfield entrance is on the left (east side of road).
Drive into the airfield through the gate on the west side and follow the airfield road east, then east-south-east past some tall trees on your left. Turn left after the trees and park on the left by the fence. You will be met here by the hot air balloon crew at the time specified on your flight line. (If the entrance gate is locked, please wait at the gate.)
Please note that there are no toilets at the launch site.