Dorset is home to some of the most fantastic manor houses and gardens, including Kingston Maurward, Abbotsbury Gardens and Athelhampton House. Filled with countless gems of local knowledge, fine horticulture and splendid tearooms, visiting a Dorset house and its gardens is a must on your English travel itinerary.
Dorset, as aforementioned, has the best of both worlds – beautiful coastline and glorious countryside. When it comes to fine dining, residents also know how to take advantage of their surroundings – from delicious, fresh-caught seafood, to free-range and organic pub-grub, the taste of Dorset will set your taste buds alight.
With so much to discover about Dorset’s past, it was essential Dorset’s array of museums portray it sufficiently – thankfully, they do! The award-winning County Museum covers Dorset’s archaeology, literature, geology, fine art, dinosaurs, costume and textiles, dating back 135 million years. As well as historical museums, Dorset is home to specialist museums, giving you an insight into specific historical attractions and events, such as The Tank Museum.
The beautiful scenery that Dorset has on display is of such a high calibre literary greats have used it in their work. Enid Blyton spent plenty of time in Dorset, soaking up the scenery and adapting it to use in her novels – Corfe Castle became Kirran Castle, and Brownsea Island became the Whispering Island, in the Famous Five. Thomas Hardy created the county of Wessex, now known as ‘Hardy’s Wessex’, that included snippets from the beautiful countryside of Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.
Originally created by coastguards, patrolling the south-west looking out for smugglers, the South West Coast Path now offers you some of the most remarkable views of Dorset’s stunning coast. Stretching 630 miles from Minehead, Somerset and finishing at Dorset’s very own Poole Harbour, you can join a walking group, or go alone, and take part in one of the many Walking Festivals, held throughout the year.
Hosting some exquisite restaurants and cafés, you can sit alongside stunning historical buildings, let the sun beam down on you and relax as you watch some of the Sunseeker yachts moor up.
A traditional harbour where you can enjoy watching the children crabbing at the harbour side as you enjoy a tea or coffee from one of the many restaurants on display. Have a wander around the shops, enjoy the quaint cottages and take a small boat trip across to Portland Bill, enabling you to explore more of Dorset in one day.
The lighthouses, Prison, Pulpit Rock and the Trinity House Obelisk, are Portland’s most renowned attractions. Playing an important role in World War II, especially the D-Day landings, Portland Harbour is also full of history. Explore all this and more, as you make your way past the beach huts and finish your day with a lovely meal at The Lobster Pot.
Bestival and Camp Bestival are the biggest names on the block when it comes to Dorset’s festivals. However, you shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the brilliant, individual folk, jazz and classical festivals on offer too. Home to the world’s largest sport and music festival, Bournemouth 7s, expect some of the finest sporting action, DJ sets, camping and the chance to meet some of your favourite athletes too. If it’s food you’re after, you can enjoy country shows, festivals, demonstrations, and the UK’s largest seafood festival. For a little taste of Dorset, in its literal sense and culturally, you can enjoy the great Cheese Festival, or enjoy throwing a Dorset knob as far as you can!
The beautiful collection of beaches that Dorset offers, including golden sands, pebbled havens, clear waters or secluded coves, means whatever your plans are for the day, whether it’s a sunbathe, fishing, sailing or riding a donkey, you’re always just a few minutes from the perfect spot.
If it’s water sports, events and light marina craft you’re after, then head on over to Sandbanks. Bump into famous faces, like Harry Redknapp, as you stroll past some of the most exclusive – and expensive – properties outside of London. Home to the Royal Yachting Association and an international sailing school, Sandbanks is the place to be if you’re after a look at how the other half live.
One-hour sessions can be held for anyone aged six and above – all you need to do is take your pick from two fun-filled lake assault courses. The Castle lake features a 65-metre action loop of inflatable obstacles, a trampoline, slide, climber and flip bag, whilst the Woodland Lake is a further 20 meters in length.
Bournemouth’s nightlife is regarded as some of the best in England. With such a diverse range of pubs, bars and club nights, it’s easy to see why. It might be that you’re after an early evening drink over dinner, in which case, you need to check out Aruba, boasting sea views whilst you wine and dine. Or, maybe you’re after the full clubbing experience, and looking to meet and greet some of the UK’s finest reality stars as they host a night at Halo, an old converted church.