Here’s another great article from our friends at Visit Britain that highlights the best sites to visit in Dorset – our favorite English county.
1). Explore the glorious Dorset countryside by following one of the many walking trails which criss-cross the county. The Wessex Ridgeway is one of the longest – along the way there are intriguing artistic sculptures with poetry by James Crowdon.
2). Go to a farmers market held in the key towns around the county to savour some of the area’s delicious local food; one of the best is Bridport’s every second Saturday of the month; the town is in the heart of Dorset’s farmlands. Dorset Vinny Cheese with Knob Biscuits or Dorset Apple Cake are just
two of the local specialities. If you visit during Dorset Food Week in October, you can join in activities at over 100 locations.
3). Take to the water on some of the country’s finest sailing and watersports spots – the National Sailing Academy is at Weymouth & Portland in recognition of the quality of the waters. There are plenty of locations to hire boats and kayaks or let someone else do the work and take a boat trip from one of the harbours such as Weymouth, Swanage or Lyme Regis.
4). Visit one of the county’s many gardens which flourish in one of the country’s mildest climates. Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens has a extensive collection of plants from around the world www.abbotsbury-tourism.co.uk ; Athelhampton House is famous for its topiary www.athelhamptonhouse.co.uk and Knoll Gardens is seen as one of the best gardens for grasses in the country www.knollgardens.co.uk
5). Dorset hosts England’s only natural World Heritage Site, known fondly as The Jurassic Coast. The beaches of Lyme Regis or Charmouth www.charmouth.org abound with fossils – regular guided public fossil walks are held.www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk
6). Dorset’s coastal location ensures fresh fish is available at the local pubs and restaurants; watch the catch come into picturesque Weymouth Harbour and then eat at one of the restaurants around the harbour or pop down to the Crab House Café overlooking Chesil Beach www.crabhousecafe.co.uk . Along the coast there are other seafood restaurants such as the Hive Beach Café in Burton Bradstock www.hivebeachcafe.co.uk and Shell Bay in Studland www.shellbay.net .
7). Unwind by flying through the trees at Go Ape! in Moors Valley Country Park and Forest, one of the country’s best outdoor leisure parks (more sedately you can also hire bikes to cycle around!)
8). Climb up to the top of Christchurch Priory for panoramic views across the area. The Priory is the longest church in England and one of the few to survive Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries www.christchurchpriory.org
9). Clamber up to the top of the prehistoric hillforts such as Hambledon Hill near Blandford Forum or Eggardon Hill near Bridport for some of the best views of Dorset – steep climes are involved but there’s always a pub nearby!
10). Explore Thomas Hardy country; key ‘musts’ are seeing Hardy’s rather stern statue in Dorchester, visiting the Dorset County Museum www.dorsetcountymuseum.org for the world’s largest collection of Hardy memorabilia and visiting the picturesque cottage where he was born www.nationaltrust.org. Around the Dorset countryside are countless places which appeared in his novels – much of the countryside looks the same as in his novels.
11). Admire the glorious fan- vaulted ceiling of the county’s ‘cathedral’ Sherborne Abbey www.sherborneabbey.com. Afterwards, explore the boutiques and antique shops of Sherborne, one of the county’s most historic and attractive towns.
12). Follow the Swanage Art Trail for a taste of county’s artistic richness; the trail takes you around a series of paintings by famous visiting artists such as Paul Nash and Walter Field http://www.swanageseen.co.uk/hello-world/. The biannual Dorset Arts Week is one of the largest in open studio events in the country www.dorsetartweeks.co.uk
For further information: www.visit-dorset.com