Ten amazing places to visit in Dorset, England

The cliffs at West Bay, Bridport. Recently used as a backdrop for the hit tv series "Broadchurch".
The cliffs at West Bay, Bridport. Recently used as a backdrop for the hit tv series "Broadchurch". | Source
Rainbow at Colmer's Hill. The hill with the trees on top is an iconic landmark that overlooks Bridport.
Rainbow at Colmer's Hill. The hill with the trees on top is an iconic landmark that overlooks Bridport. | Source
View of the castle on Brownsea Island, Dorset
View of the castle on Brownsea Island, Dorset | Source
Looking westwards along Chesil Beach from Portland in Dorset
Looking westwards along Chesil Beach from Portland in Dorset | Source
Dorset County Museum in the county town of Dorchester
Dorset County Museum in the county town of Dorchester | Source
The cliffs at West Bay, Bridport, Dorset
The cliffs at West Bay, Bridport, Dorset | Source

A map of Dorset in England

Fossil beds exposed at low tide on the Jurassic coast
Fossil beds exposed at low tide on the Jurassic coast | Source
Lyme Regis harbour on a calm and sunny spring day
Lyme Regis harbour on a calm and sunny spring day | Source

Dorset is a small rural county on the south coast of England, noted for its idyllic countryside, rolling hills and beautiful coastline. Visitors to the area may be looking for a quiet country retreat, a holiday by the seaside, or maybe just a sightseeing tour of this picturesque county. Here are my top ten suggestions for a worthwhile visit, going from east to west.

1. Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour

Poole is a large town to the east of the county with a busy port and large harbour. Within the harbour are a number of small islands, including Brownsea, which is owned by the National Trust. Boat trips run regularly to the island, and include a short tour of the harbour. The island is perfect for a day trip, and is a self contained nature reserve that is home to the county's only red squirrel population and also many seabirds. It was also once the home of Lord Baden Powell who started the boy scout movement in the last century.

2. Corfe Castle

For a bit of real English history a visit to Corfe Castle is highly recommended. The ruins stand high on a hill in the village of Corfe, near Wareham, and can be seen for several miles around. Built originally for William the Conquerer after the Norman invasion of 1066 it served as a royal fortress for nearly 600 years until it was destroyed by the Parliamentarians in 1646. It has a rich and interesting history, and the local village and surrounding area are also very pretty.

3. Durdle Door

Durdle Door is one of the most picturesque features of the Dorset coastline, and is situated near Lulworth. The "door" is a natural limestone arch that protrudes out from the cliffs into the sea. The beach is mostly shingle there, and the water is beautifully clear, so popular in the summer for swimming and snorkelling.

4. Chesil Beach

Chesil is the longest shingle beach in Europe, stretching 18 miles from Portland to Bridport in the west, and is one of Dorset's natural wonders. At the eastern end it forms part of the narrow strip of land that joins the Isle of Portland to the mainland, and is separated from the land for a few miles by the Fleet, a brackish lagoon which ends at Abbotsbury, where the world famous swannery is. The western end of Chesil lies beneath the towering sandstone cliffs at West Bay in Bridport. The whole beach is quite magnificent, and any part of it is worth a visit.

5. Maiden Castle

Maiden Castle, near the county town of Dorchester, is an Iron age hill fort - the largest of its kind in Europe. It is a large ramparted hill with a long and interesting history. There is also evidence of later Roman occupation, and Dorchester itself is an old Roman town.

6. Dorchester

As the county town Dorchester is well worth a visit. The county museum there has lots of interesting historical artifacts including some beautiful Roman mosaics, and is a good place to find out more about the county's most celebrated literary figure, Thomas Hardy.

7. The Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic coast is now officially a world heritage site, recognised for its geological importance. It includes 95 miles of coastline from Swanage in east Dorset right into east Devon. Keen walkers can walk the entire length along the south-west coast path. Geologically it spans 180 million years of history, including the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, and is rich in fossils and geological wonders.

8. Abbotsbury and the Sub-tropical Gardens

Abbotsbury is a very pretty little village, with several tourist attractions including the Swannery, the Tithe barn and the sub-tropical gardens. The gardens are nestled in a sheltered valley, where many rare and exotic trees and plants seem to flourish.

9. Bridport

Bridport is a small market town that hosts regular farmers' markets, and a busy street market on Saturdays, selling everything from local produce to antiques and crafts. There is also a thriving arts scene, with plenty of galleries and live music to choose from. The local beach and harbour are at West Bay, which is very popular with tourists.

10. Lyme Regis

Lyme is famous for its geology, and was the home of Mary Anning, the geologist who discovered the first dinosaur bones there. It was also once the home of the novelist John Fowles, who based his book The French Lieutenant's Woman in the town. The cobb is a long wall that runs alongside of the harbour, and featured prominently in the film of the book, as well as in Jane Austen's Emma . The museum is very good there, and walks along the beaches or around the fossil shops are recommended.

For more information on Dorset, visit http://www.visit-dorset.com/




More by this Author


Comments 13 comments

slmorgan profile image

slmorgan 5 years ago from San Francisco

Dorset sounds like a beautiful place to visit.


UniquelyIndonesia profile image

UniquelyIndonesia 5 years ago from Indonesia, South East Asia

Nice info. Very Informative and useful for those who have some holiday plans to England. Hope someday i would go there too.


VizFact The Dude profile image

VizFact The Dude 5 years ago from Houston, TX

Now this is a useful hub. Nice work.


Trish_M profile image

Trish_M 5 years ago from The English Midlands

Hi :)

I like Dorset. We spent a few holidays there when our 'children' were younger.

I haven't visited all of the places that you mention, but loved Lulworth Cove ~ and Durdle Door. I also enjoyed visiting Corfe Castle.

There is a lot to see in Dorset ~ I shall have to go back soon :)


Will Apse profile image

Will Apse 5 years ago

I have been drunk a few times in Dorchester and a fine place it is for such a thing.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 5 years ago from Southwest England Author

thanks for that comment Will Apse - I'm sure there are better things to do in Dorchester though ... :)


surfgatinho profile image

surfgatinho 5 years ago from Cornwall UK

Good stuff. I love a bit of Dorset! Agree with most of your choices and with what Trish says about Lulworth and Corfe Castle, both great places


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England Author

Updated with a few new pictures and a map - May 2012


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

Dorset is a lovely part of the country. We've had some super holidays in Swanage.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England Author

Hello, 2Patricias. Yes, Swanage is in a lovely area, down on the coast amongst the beautiful Purbeck hills. You must have been to - or at least seen - Corfe Castle near there, in that case. Thanks for reading and commenting.


Limo Les 4 years ago

Great Hub. Dorset has got to be my favorite county. Portland Bill lighthouse is worth a visit.


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 4 years ago from Southwest England Author

I agree, Limo Les, Portland and the lighthouse make a great day out. The more I think about it the more wonderful places I think of to visit - I can feel a sequel to this hub coming on!


Imogen French profile image

Imogen French 3 years ago from Southwest England Author

Updated May 2013 with some new pictures

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working