The Dorset Guide

Dorset has one of the best known coastlines in England. Extending eastwards from Lyme Regis the coast has numerous sandy beaches, perfect for family holidays. The town of Poole is home to one of the world's largest natural harbours and there are many nature reserves and marine parks along the coast. Notable amongst these is Chesil Bank, a huge pebble beach stretching from Weymouth to Bridport. There are also many attractive and unique coves such as Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.

As well as having an stunning coastline, Dorset's inland scenery is equally inviting. The area is rich in archaeological remains, reflecting the long history of the county along with unspoilt rural villages set in the lovely countryside like Abbotsbury and Worth Matravers. In the east there are extensive heath lands, whilst the centre of Dorset has the chalk downs criss-crossed by rivers and streams. This region is perhaps best known for the famous giant cut into the chalk hillside behind Cerne Abbas.

One of the undeniable jewels in Dorset's crown is the Isle of Purbeck. Despite not actually being an island Purbeck is the quintessential Dorset of rolling hills, picturesque villages and beautiful coastal scenery. This peninsula is bordered by Poole harbour to the east and stretches to the heart of the Jurassic Coast in the west. Within this area are some of the finest beaches anywhere in Britain; the sandy, undeveloped expanse of Studland; the fine sands of the resort town of Swanage and any number of little coves. The history of this region is fascinating too, both ancient and modern. The 13th century ruined Corfe Castle is unmissable. Neither is the ghost village of Tyneham which was commandeered by the Army in World War II and never given back.

In the west of Dorset the landscape is made up of undulating wooded countryside with a patchwork of small fields. The flat expanse of the Blackmore Vale, dominates the north of Dorset. This is farming country with ancient hedgerows and winding country lanes. Perfect walking territory where one can spend many hours exploring the maze of narrow lanes, footpaths and bridleways.

The county was home to a number of well-known authors, including Jane Austen. However, it is Thomas Hardy that we most associate with Dorset. His novels were based in the fictional Wessex with its county town of Casterbridge is Dorset's real county town of Dorchester. Scenes from such well-known novels as "Far from the Madding Crowd" and "Tess of the D'Urbevilles" can be identified with little difficulties and attract tourists from around the world.

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Accommodation in Dorset

Choose from a wide range of holiday accommodation throughout Dorset.

Dorset weather

Sunday 21st July

Today's tide times

  • High 5:21am (5.04m)
    Low 12:00pm (1.16m)
    High 5:42pm (5.36m)

Things to do in Dorset

Attractions in Dorset

There are no shortage of things to do in Dorset from the stunning natural attractions of the Jurassic Coast to family favourites like Monkey World. Steeped in heritage and history dating back to prehistoric times Dorset is also packed full of castles, abbeys, historic houses and ancient sites.

The Dorset Guide attractions section contains extensive listings of all the best gardens, sights and days out in Dorset..

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