Dorset, which was known in ancient times as Dorseteschire, is located at South West England right on the coast of the English Channel. Said to be one of the smallest counties in the United Kingdom, Dorset has an area of 1,024 square miles that covers an array of beautiful landscapes and impressive historical sites. It is a largely rural county, with few big towns and lots of small villages.
Dorset offers a variety of sights to see, activities to do, and experiences to enjoy. It is more than just a panoramic countryside – it’s a secret to be discovered.
The first adventure you should embark on when you visit this breathtaking county is to head off to the famous Jurassic Coast, a proud World Heritage Site. It is made up of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs and documents 180 million years of geological history. Unique landforms and features include the Isle of Portland, Lulworth Cove, and Durdle Door.
The Corfe Castle, a ruined Norman castle, and the Brownsea Island, home to red squirrels and birthplace of the Scout Movement, are National Trust sites worthy of exploration. Also check out the Cerne Abbas Giant, carved into the side of a hill using white chalk exposed by removing turf.
Next, be swept off your feet by the beauty of the Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour next to Sydney’s. Then full enjoy Dorset’s waters by taking a swim at the popular Studland Beach or at Fortuneswell and Chesil Beach or by visiting the Bovington Tank Museum.
There are a few cultural institutions that you can find in Dorset, compared with more heavily populated or larger counties. The Poole Borough serves as the usual venue for concerts, while the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra remains to be the most well-known cultural institution celebrated not just by the locals but by the whole country. Theatre houses include Council’s Lighthouse arts centre, Bournemouth’s BIC and Pavilion Theatre, Wimborne’s Tivoli Theatre, and the Pavilion in Weymouth.
All this sight-seeing can make you hungry. There are many food trips you can take. If you want to try out local specialties, there are a number of great tea shops, cafes, and fish and chips shops that you can raid. Make sure to order an apple cake, a cup of cream tea, and as many slices of blue vinney cheese you can manage. If, on the other hand, you want exotic food choices, visit the towns of Bournemouth, Poole, and Weymouth.
After dinner and dessert, you might also want to hit pubs tied with the largest breweries in the county, which includes Hall and Woodhouse of Blandford and Palmers of Bridport, among others – and good beer. If you prefer a lighter beverage, some of the rural areas offer locally made cider and scrumpy.
Dorset first gained international attention when renowned author and poet Thomas Hardy, who was a native of the county, used it to describe several places in his novels that took place in the fictional Wessex. Today, Dorset is also known as home to celebrity spouses, Madonna and Guy Richie.