Short Breaks in Bridport: Gateway to the Jurassic Coast
Tucked away in the rolling hills of West Dorset, not far from the sweeping beaches and majestic clifftops of the Jurassic Coast, lies the market town of Bridport.
This thriving parish is steeped in Saxon history and was once revered for its rope and net making industry; its medieval cobbled streets used to dry the lines once they’d been hand spun in the town’s yards and long gardens. Today, Bridport is a popular hub for arts and culture and enjoys a bumper calendar of seasonal markets and festivals.
The streets of Bridport are lined with traditional and artisan shops, eclectic stalls, cosy tearooms, stylish bistros and welcoming pubs, combining to make it one of Dorset’s most characterful communities.
If you’re looking to explore the enchanting county of Dorset, Bridport makes for an excellent base, and you’ll be surprised at the amount you can pack into a long weekend or whistle-stop tour. Here are some ideas…
Things to do in and around Bridport…
With its year-round programme of visual arts, theatre, dance, comedy, music, spoken word, films and screenings, Bridport Arts Centre has become the town’s social hub and continues to captivate audiences all year round.
Located on South Street and based in one of the town’s oldest buildings, The Bridport Museum is crammed full of fascinating artefacts from bygone eras and captures the rich heritage of both the town and its prehistoric coast. A great place to visit on a rainy day.
Savour the incredible views across the Marshwood Vale towards the sparkling Jurassic Coast when you climb the summit of Eggardon Hill, site of a rare Iron Age hill fort believed to be around 2,500 years old. Part-owned by the National Trust, this breathtaking mount remains the highlight of many memorable walks and is also a great spot for kite-flying.
An afternoon on the verdant fairways of Dorset’s oldest golf club could be just the ticket for all you swingers out there. This renowned links style course enjoys modern facilities and can boast majestic views across Lyme Bay towards Portland, its six thousand plus yards offering up a challenge to the most seasoned of golfers.
The impressive manor house and exquisitely manicured gardens of Mapperton are home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. Surrounded by roaming Dorset countryside, this magnificent fifteen acreage – that descends from the croquet lawn through a formal topiary and a march of yew trees then into the wild gardens – is open to the public throughout the seasons.
Get inspired by nature when you take a trip to The Kingcombe Centre run by Dorset Wildlife Trust. Here you can take part in a variety of courses and workshops, anything from wildlife walks and sketching classes to gardening and astronomy. Where better place to let your artistic flair flourish.
Discover the awesome sandstone cliffs of West Bay, the ‘golden gateway’ to the Jurassic Coast. This breathtaking stretch of headland is interwoven with clifftop tracks and beachy trails and embraces the highest point on the South Coast, known as the Golden Cap, where you can gaze all the way to the sparkling waters of Lyme Bay and the dramatic wilds of Dartmoor. This incredible setting is England’s only natural World Heritage Site, such is its geological significance. It was also the location for the award-winning ITV detective drama, Broadchurch.
Best Pubs and Restaurants in Bridport…
Tucked away on a quiet Bridport backstreet is The Green Yard Café, a charming little eatery with a delicious menu to suit all tastes. Pop in for breakfast, brunch, lunch or snacks, and if the weather is fine, sit out in the pretty courtyard and dine alfresco.
Expect amazing food and tip-top service when you pull up a chair at Pickled Ginger on Bridport’s East Street. This lovely venue is one of the town’s best kept secrets and continues to garner rave reviews, wowing customers with its stylish menu.
Also on East Street, can be found another one of the Bridport’s burgeoning bistros. The Olive Tree specialises in Mediterranean cuisine with sumptuous dishes cooked to order with locally sourced fayre, ideal for a romantic meal for two or a long and overdue family gathering. ‘One of the best fish-bistro restaurants in Britain’ says The Sunday Times.
Built in the late 18th century by a well-known family of Bridportians, The Ropemakers is one of the town’s most iconic pubs. With its pretty courtyard out back and its many cosy alcoves, this handsome establishment is well worth a visit.
If you’re a lover of traditional country pubs that are steeped in history then you’ll love The Marquis of Lorne. This distinguished tavern dates as far back as the 16th century and has been on the receiving end of a plethora of awards and glowing reviews.
The Hare & Hounds is a traditional country inn surrounded by the rolling hills and dreamy meadows of West Dorset. This family-friendly venue also welcomes dogs, making it the perfect place to rest those weary legs after your stroll along the local lanes. You won’t find a more idyllic spot in the whole of Dorset.
Five Fascinating Facts About Bridport…
- One of the more characterful corners of Bridport can be found at the top of South Street behind the town hall, a cobbled courtyard known as Bucky Doo Square. A lot of mystery surrounds the name ‘Buckydoo’ which some suggest is a colloquial corruption of a 17th century pub, the ‘Buck and Doe’, while others maintain it is derived from the term ‘Bocardo’, a term used to describe a gaol during the middle ages. However, a more happy-go-lucky theory suggests it’s a mutation of the phrase ‘Boggard’, a medieval name for the loo.
- Bridport was once famous for its hemp and flaxen rope making, a prosperous past that also has a rather macabre association with the hangman’s noose. Many a sorry smuggler or rogue would have swung from the heavy end of a ‘Bridport knot’ which gave rise to the well-known saying ‘stabbed by a Bridport dagger’.
- In the 16th century, Henry VIII ordered that every rope and cordage destined for the riggings of the English Navy should be made in Bridport ‘and nowhere else’, an act that remained in place for nearly a century.
- Amongst Bridport’s busy calendar of events is one of the region’s most colourful and quirky celebrations. The Bridport Hat Festival falls on a ‘Haturday’ in September and was the brainchild of a local merchant who once ran a hat emporium on South Street.
- Bridport has a long list of famous former residents, including rock singer-songwriter, PJ Harvey, and folk artist and activist, Billy Bragg.
Discover the historic market town of Bridport in the heart of West Dorset when you book a stay with Toad Hall Cottages. Whether you’re looking for a romantic couple’s escape, a gathering of old friends, or a much- needed family break, our long and impressive list of Dorset holiday properties is sure to tickle your fancy.