Tuesday, 21 July 2015

10 Reasons to Love Dorset

I have grown up in Dorset and I really can't imagine living anywhere else. Being on the South Coast we have a little bit of everything - beaches, a busy university town, lush green countryside and if you have children you really are spoilt for choice with things to do!

Here are my top 10 reason to love Dorset....and no, I'm not being paid by the tourist board ;) 

1. The Beaches

Dorset has almost 100 miles of coastline so this had to come top of the list! There are traditional seaside towns such as Weymouth which has a great family friendly beach and is very popular with tourists (or grockles as we call them in Dorset!) or for a more peaceful but pebbly beach Lulworth Cove is a breathtaking beauty spot.

Weymouth and Sandbanks (Photo Credit -  Fotolia)
Lulworth Cove (Photo Credit - Kara Guppy)
I can't talk about the beaches without mentioning Sandbanks! Sandbanks is one of the most popular beaches in Dorset with golden sands and a prestigious Blue Flag award. Sandbanks is home to some of Dorset's richest residents (Harry Redknapp is one of them) and it has actually been nicknamed "Millionaires Row"! 

Sandbanks Beach (Photo Credit - Fotolia)

2. Festivals

Throughout Summer, you'll find festivals happening every weekend around Dorset and these include Camp Bestival, The Larmer Tree Festival and the Dorset Knob Throwing festival! We unfortunately didn't make it to the Weymouth Seafood Festival this month but one we will definitely be attending is the Great Dorset Chilli Festival. This festival has just got better each year and we can't wait to go - there are stalls featuring every type of chilli product known to man, live music, local produce, live cooking demos and lots of samples to be had! 

Another Summer must-do is a beer festival and Dorset has many! The biggest and best beer festival (in our opinion!) is held at the Bankes Arm in Studland and runs for 4 days in August. The beer garden is on the edge of the cliff and offers stunning views across to Poole and Bournemouth. We have been taking Elliot to this beer festival since he was a baby and it has such a lovely atmosphere with live music, food and amazing scenery!

3. Scenery

Durdle Door (Photo Credit - Fotolia)
Dorset boasts some pretty amazing scenery, including the world famous Durdle Door, the historic Corfe Castle, the impressive white stacks of Old Harry Rocks and rugged landscape of Portland Bill.

Portland Bill - Old Harry Rocks - Man o War Bay - Corfe Castle

Further inland is at Shaftesbury is Gold Hill. You may not have heard of it but you will definitely recognise it as it was used in the old Hovis ads with the boy cycling up the hill! 

We have the Cerne Abbas Giant ( Britain's largest chalk figure) , pretty Poole Quay, and many picturesque villages featuring thatched cottages and quaint country pubs.

Cerne Abbas Giant (Photo Credit - Kara Guppy) - Kimmeridge Bay (Photo Credit - Fiona Elliot)
Gold Hill - Poole Quay

4. Jurassic Coastline

Although the Jurassic Coastline features some stunning scenery, I think it merits a section of it's own because it's definitely a reason to love Dorset! Stretching for 95 miles, it is England's first natural World Heritage Site. The coastline consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning 180 million years of  geological history.

Kimmeridge Bay - Lyme Regis - SW Coastal Path just past Durdle Door
One of the most popular towns along the Jurassic Coast is Lyme Regis and it's a great place to go to find fossills. It is also home to Dinosaurland Fossil Museum which is worth a visit. You can even go on guided fossil hunting tours!

5. Food

Photo Credit - Fotolia
Award winning fish & chips, dressed crab, freshly caught mackerel,  Lyme Bay scallops...notice the theme! Dorset is a foodies paradise and seafood fans are spoilt for choice here with so many restaurants offering locally caught produce. 

A number of high profile chefs including Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall have set up restaurants and cooking schools here and just this month Rick Stein has announced he will be opening a new restaurant in Sandbanks! 

If you like a bit of spice then you might like to try the Dorset Naga - one of the hottest chillis in the world! 

6. Broadchurch

Unless you were living under a rock, you can't have missed all the hype surrounding ITV smash Broadchurch. You may not realise that it was set and filmed right here in Dorset. Broadchurch is actually a fictional name but much of the drama was filmed in West Bay, a pretty fishing village located on the Jurassic Coast. Visitor numbers have increased since Broadchurch was first shown and you can even go on a guided walk taking in all the filming locations! 

(My sister and I did actually visit West Bay last Summer when Broadchurch was being filmed - we think we spotted David Tennant being whisked away for filming but we can't be sure!)

7. Pirates 

Dorset has strong connections to the pirates and smugglers of long ago and Poole even has it's own famous pirate, Harry Paye, who was busy swashbuckling in the late 14th century. Every year the people of Poole celebrate Harry Paye day and the Quay is awash with people dressed in their best pirate fancy dress. 

Photo Credit - Danny Morgan

8. Connections

Dorset might be semi-rural (there are no motorways!) but we can jump on a direct train and be in London within two hours or Birmingham in three. There's an airport with regular short haul flights to Europe and you can even jump on a ferry and get to France within a few hours! 

9. History

History buffs will love Corfe Castle - dating back to the 11th Century it was built by William the Conqueror and has a chequered past. Nowadays it is owned by the National Trust and is one of the top tourist attractions in Dorset. 

Dorset has lots of museums and one of the best is the Poole Museum. Covering 4 floors, Poole Museum illustrates the story of the town and it's people. One of the most impressive artifacts at the museum is a 2000 year old Iron Age boat. It's hard to get your head around something being 2000 years old! 

10. Days Out 

Dorset really excels itself here - there is so much to see and do and something for all ages! Here are just a small selection of fun attractions and days out: 

  • Weymouth Sealife Centre and Tower
  • Boat trip around Poole Harbour
  • Great Dorset Steam Fair
  • A visit to Brownsea Island to spot the red squirrels
  • A ride on the steam train at Swanage
  • Walk around the ghost village of Tyneham
  • Ride zip line from Bournemouth Pier to the shore
  • Spot the Gruffalo at Moors Valley Country Park
  • Visit Thomas Hardy's house
  • See the baby swans at Abbotsbury Swannery
  • Monkey World Ape Rescue
  • Fossil Hunting in Lyme Regis
  • Dinosaur Museum in Dorchester
  • Farmer Palmers adventure farm
  • The Tank Museum
  • Dorset Heavy Horse Centre
  • Portland Bill Lighthouse
  • Nudist beach in Studland!
  • A walk along the pier at Boscome Beach
  • See the Red Arrows at the Bournemouth Air Show
  • Have a nosy round Kingston Lacy country mansion
Weymouth Sealife Centre - Brownsea Island - Swanage Railway
Tyneham Village (photo credit - Fiona Elliott) - Moors Valley Country Park - Farmer Palmers
Boscome Pier - Red Arrows @ Bournemouth Airshow - Kingston Lacy

Have you visited Dorset before? What were your favourite attractions?

Linking up with...
Entertaining ElliotMummascribbles
Zenas Suitcase
Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


  1. Just stumbled across your blog Elaine! I'm also from Dorset, don't we forgot what great places we have to visit on our doorstep. We're off to our fav Farmer Plamers & Moors valley next week (hoping my youngest will have mastered the potty training by then!) Will definitely be planning some more days out to different places after reading this x

    1. Thanks for stopping by to comment! We love Farmer palmers and usually go once a week, my son is currently obsessed with the sand pit! Good luck with the potty training....I wish my son would master it, he'll be in nappies at 15 at this rate! xx

  2. Hi there, lovely post! My parents live in Dorset and I love visiting them such a lovely part of the country very beautiful and peaceful. Jen XOXO #TwinklyTuesday

    1. it really is beautiful here isn't it, glad you enjoy visiting xx

  3. It was definitely David tennant we saw...well his shoulder haha!

  4. Great post! Makes me wanna go in an adventure!

  5. Great post! I love the beach, jurassic coastline and the seafood. I think my husband likes the festivals too. Thaks for sharing! #TwinklyTuesday

  6. This is a perfectly timed post as we are currently housesitting in Dorset! I have never been to this part of the country before, but it is stunning! Have just visited the Durdle Door ( you can see a piccy on instagram, @BecomingaSAHM) and are planning a day on the swanage steam train to corfe castle later this week! Xx #twinklytuesday

    1. I'm so glad you're enjoying your time here, it's beautiful isn't it! x

  7. I've been really trying to embrace Dorset this last year and have loved it. Always loved living here but really appreciating it a lot more these days. I need to go to the broadchurch spot so bad this summer!! We are very lucky to live where we live! Xx

  8. I really need to get to Dorset a bit more. Despite not being that far away from London, I always seem to overlook it as I set my sights on Devon and/or Cornwall instead, tut tut!

    Had a lovely visit to Lyme Regis a couple of years back though, and have seen the Chalk man, so not completely overlooked the area, hehe. Still, I must make more effort as it has such a beautiful coast - not to mention I was unsuccessful at finding a fossil last time! ;)


  9. There is soooo much to do in Dorset, wow! You're lucky to live there! We've been one of the 'grockles'! gosh I think it was 5 years ago, we did a South Coast roadtrip, we did Teignmouth, Dawlish, Lyme Regis, Weymouth. Dorchester (to see Wellworths at the time!) and Bournemouth. After reading this post, we definitely need to come back, there's so much more to see! Sabrina xx

    1. Definitely lots more to see, come one down one day! xx

  10. I have never been to Dorset, but from this post I think I'm missing out! Beautiful pictures as well :)

    Stevie x #LoveWhereILive

    1. Oh you definitely need to visit, it's lovely! And you're not too far! x

  11. This is SUCH a great post!!! And you are SO lucky — it's a really beautiful part of the world. SO excited that I'll be coming down in a couple of days — really looking forward to coming down to Lulworth again. Lulworth cove is one of my fave places to visit. Thanks so much for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday — hope to see you again next week! x

    Caro | www.thetwinklediaries.co.uk

    1. Glad you love our beautiful county as much as me! Hope you had a lovely time at Lulworth, it's beautiful down there. Good ice creams too! x

  12. Dorset sounds amazing. We were actually at Larmer Tree Festival, and it was amazing. I'd definitely recommend going there if your visiting the area

    1. I've never been to that festival but heard great things about it, glad you enjoyed yourself! x


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