Dorset is famous for its unspoilt picturesque countryside, pretty villages, bustling market towns, and over 95 miles of breathtakingly beautiful World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.
This wonderfully picturesque corner of England, is renowned for its unspoilt countryside, pretty villages, bustling market towns, and over 95 miles of breathtakingly beautiful World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.
The stretch of Jurassic coast that fringes Dorset, is the only World Heritage site in England, and tells the story of over 185 million years of history with its dramatic cliffs, secluded coves, and sweeping barrier beaches. Here you can uncover ancient relics on guided fossil hunts, explore characterful seaside towns, enjoy an invigorating cliff top walk along the glorious South West Coast Path, or simply soak up some famous Dorset sunshine on one of the many family-friendly beaches. Summers are longer, and winters are milder, in this part of the world!
The highest point on the South Coast, the Golden Cap National Trust Estate near Morcombelake, offers breath-taking views in all directions from its rocky peak. Brace yourself for an exhilarating uphill walk and you will be rewarded with spectacular views as far as Dartmoor on a clear day, and a real sense of achievement for reaching the top. There are 25 miles of meandering footpaths to explore within the Golden Cap Estate, perfect for exercising children or four legged friends!
Further inland, the scenic countryside, much of which is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is scattered with ancient woods and hedgerows, and winding country lanes that lead to charming villages, complete with thatched cottages, tempting tea rooms and friendly traditional country pubs. An extensive network of peaceful footpaths and bridleways snake the idyllic countryside making it a haven for walkers, and anyone looking to unwind, relax and reconnect with nature.
Active outdoor pursuits are an excellent way to enjoy Dorset to the full. Walking allows you to take in Dorset’s rural and coastal charms at a slower pace. The county also boasts a superb selection of circular cycle routes suitable for all levels. Another lovely way to explore the unspoilt countryside and bridleways is on horseback. Meanwhile, for those seeking adventure on holiday, and a view of the Jurassic Coastline from the sea, a variety of water sports are on offer, including windsurfing, Stand Up Paddle-boarding or power boating.
With so much to see and do, Dorset is the perfect destination for a UK holiday cottage break.
The stylish seaside town of Lyme Regis is renowned for its historic 13th Century Cobb harbour wall, beautiful sea-front gardens, and family-friendly sandy beach. Lose yourself in its tangle of narrow lanes where you’ll find quirky galleries, shops, and tea rooms to explore, then head to the sea front to blow the cob webs away and take in the spectacular coastal views.
The bustling market town of Bridport is famous for its eclectic mix of shops, art galleries, and abundance of award-winning food producers and restaurants serving locally made culinary treats. Less than 2 miles away, Bridport’s harbour, West Bay, offers a choice of two unspoilt sandy beaches, a quaint fishing harbour, and two piers from which more stunning views of the Jurassic coast can be enjoyed.
A small and friendly horse riding stables, Vineyard Stables in Wooton Fitzpane is beautifully set on the edge of a forest with sea views and wonderful riding opportunities on bridle paths and country lanes with no main roads for miles. There’s a sand school as well as a cross country course, which are available for private hire, as well as off-road hacking. Lessons start at £10 per hour depending on your requirements, and they also offer personalised classes in dressage and jumping, which can be discussed over the phone to cater to the individual.
Having run deep sea and mackerel fishing trips in Lyme Regis since 1970, Harry May is an experienced and passionate fisherman. So much so that he’s been a regular face on the TV programme Coast. His is a moving story of dedication to what he does, and these days his two boats, including Sunbeam, the one that started it all, can cater to small and large groups of people of all ages. They’ve even had an 85-year old grandmother celebrate her birthday on board. Both the mackerel fishing trips and deep sea fishing are family friendly and good fun. Deep sea fishing is a three-hour experience costing £25 including a rod, bait and tuition. You can even take your catch home for dinner!
With one-hour trips, two to four-hour rod fishing trips, sightseeing excursions and private charters available, Nick’s Mackerel Fishing Trips provides a coastal adventure for the whole family. They provide the fishing lines, advice and oodles of encouragement for a memorable experience while you’re on holiday in Dorset. The area is also known for its visiting dolphin pods in the summer months, so they also arrange trips to see the friendly and sociable creatures that love to bob up to the boat and interact with the people on board.
Welcoming visitors and members alike, Lyme Regis Golf Club occupies a cliff top location with views over the Jurassic coastline towards Portland Bill, and overlooking the historic town and World Heritage Site of Lyme Regis. Although originally just nine holes, the course was extended to the full 18 after 1934. These days the course measures 6283 yards par 71. Green fees for a full round start at £40 and there’s a clubhouse with a bar and restaurant as well.
Bridport is the oldest golf club in Dorset, celebrating their 125th anniversary in 2016 but enjoying modern facilities catering to the 21st century golfer. Located on the Jurassic coastline, the views stretch across Lyme Bay and along Chesil Beach to Portland. The 6213 yard, cliff top links style golf course is a challenging but fair test for all abilities and can be played on all year round. There’s a driving range and a putting green, clubhouse and pro shop, and green fees start at £40 in high season.
Surrounded by beautiful West Dorset countryside, the Craft Centre is situated on the edge of Broadwindsor village, with ample free parking, and offers a unique shopping, browsing and eating experience in the relaxed restaurant and conservatory which serves delicious, fresh, home-cooked food.
Broadwindsor Craft Centre, Broadwindsor, Beaminster, Dorset DT8 3PX (T: 01308 868362)
The Bridge House Brasserie Restaurant serves award-winning, locally sourced and home-grown modern British cuisine alongside an eclectic wine menu. A relaxed, lively atmosphere with a choice of dining al fresco on the terrace, or in the sun room conservatory.
Bridge House Restaurant, 3 Prout Bridge, Beaminster DT8 3AY (T: 01308 862200)
You'll find Café @ Cilla & Camilla hidden at the rear of the quirky Cilla & Camilla gift shop, on Beaminster's beautiful market square. A friendly, informal café with an attractive courtyard garden at the back, serving tea, coffee and delicious lunches, sandwiches, cakes and cream teas.
Cilla & Camilla, 22 The Square, Beaminster, Dorset, DT8 3AU (T: 01308 863477)
In the picturesque harbour town of Lyme Regis, Town Beach is covered in pebbles at one end thanks to the coastal protection scheme that placed them there to provide essential care for the Marine Parade and the buildings along it. At the other end the beach has been built up with sand, no longer gets covered at high tide and provides an extensive beach area manned by RNLI lifeguards in the summer. There are kiosks, cafes, shops and restaurants bordering the beach, so it’s ideal for visiting with family and spending the whole day on the sand if the weather allows. The main sandy beach in the area, it’s a delight and easy to get to when on holiday in Dorset. There is paid parking nearby, so don’t forget your change, and remember that dogs are not permitted from 1st April to 31st October, while from 1st November to 31st March they must be on leads.
This pretty harbour town dates back to the 14th century, and is sheltered by a curving harbour wall, The Cobb, as its known contains a small sandy beach made famous in the opening shot of the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman. You reach the beach between the RNLI station and the slipway, and there is lifeguard cover in the summer months. Activities nearby include fishing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, surfing and water skiing, while facilities close to the beach include cafes and restaurants and toilets. There are lots of walks in the area including guided tours of the famous fossil bearing cliffs. There is paid parking nearby, Axminster train station is five minutes away as the crow flies and buses are available to the town centre. Dogs are allowed on the beach from 1st November to 30th March as long as they’re on the lead, but they are not permitted in the summer months.
Famous for its picturesque Jurassic coastline, as well as its array of fossils, Church Cliff Beach is on the edge of Lyme Regis town. Sandy in places, at low tide there is an extensive rock ledge with hundreds of rock pools where you can catch shrimp. The River Lym flows into the bay, so paddling is a necessity if you want to stroll on the sand. The beach is flanked by rock armour which protects the promenade, and the sand is covered at high tide. There’s paid parking close by, so don’t forget your change. There are facilities, restaurants and cafes in the town. There’s no lifeguard cover on this beach, and dogs are permitted all year round, which is great news for walkers as it also makes up part of the West Dorset Heritage Coast and its accompanying footpaths.
Named after the Duke of Monmouth who landed here in 1685 in an attempt to take the crown from King James II, Monmouth Beach is a large pebble and sand beach that stretches over a kilometer southwest from the Cobb wall. There are beach huts, a bowling green, the Lyme Regis Power Boat Club and paid car parks close by. Meanwhile, for those wishing to have their own exploratory adventures, you can find a layer of limestone called the ammonite graveyard at Monmouth Beach, containing a large number of (you guessed it) ammonites. There are numerous walks close by and dogs are allowed on the beach all year round. There is lifeguard cover in the summer, and all the town’s cafés, restaurants and amenities are within easy reach.
A fine shingle beach with sand at the water’s edge, East Cliff Beach is a beautiful place to spend the day with the family on summer holidays in Dorset. There’s lifeguard cover from July to September in the summer holidays on East Beach itself, but that doesn’t really cover East Cliff Beach, so just be careful when and where you swim and stay away from the cliff base to avoid falling stones. There’s a long stay car park behind East Beach and a smaller short stay car park just before entering the harbour area in front of the Bridport Arms Hotel. Toilets are located at the main West Bay Road car park and baby changing facilities are provided as well. Dogs are permitted on the beach all year round, but it is a clean zone that’s regularly patrolled by wardens imposing fines, so don’t forget to clean up after your pets!