Christchurch and East Dorset

Attractions in East Dorset

There are lots for visitors to do in East Dorset – both indoor and outdoor.  Remember that it is great if you can recommend any of these through personal experience, visitors really appreciate it.  Some of these attractions may offer you a reduction or even free entry as a tourism employee– after all it is in their interest if you are able to recommend them to others.  Here are some of the key attractions:

Highcliffe Castle is a Grade I listed mansion with lovely gardens, in contrast to some of the ruined castles elsewhere in Dorset. It has its own heritage centre and tearooms.

Honeybrook Farm, outside Wimborne, is a traditional farm experience,  good for families, with animals, adventure play, tractor and pony rides.  It also offers Honeybrook Wild Skills for young people and adults to learn bush craft and outdoor survival.

Bournemouth International Airport is at Hurn, and there are two important attractions in the area.  The first is an Aviation Museum – a hands-on experience with interactive exhibits where visitors can sit in many of the aircraft cockpits and view planes from up close.  As the museum is right by the actual airport you can also see real planes landing and taking off.

Nearby is Adventure Wonderland, an award-winning family run theme park, with many rides and attractions included in the entry price.  Visitors can meet Alice, the Mad Hatter and other characters, and in wet weather little ones can enjoy an indoor play area – Wild Thing.

Another very popular attraction, again a full day out for many people, is Moors Valley Country Park on the Hampshire/Dorset borders near Ashley Heath.  Visitors can enjoy walking or cycling through the forest (cycle hire is available), ride on a narrow-gauge steam train, play in the adventure playground or undertake one of the many trails. This is also the home to Dorset’s Go Ape high wire trail through the tree tops.

East Dorset is a great draw for visitors who love gardening and plants – did you know that it used to be known as the ‘market garden’ for Bournemouth and Poole, supplying vegetables to both towns?  Because of the River Stour the soil is perfect for growing, and this is why there are so many garden centres and plant nurseries in the area.  Knoll Gardens, near Wimborne, is a nationally recognised garden and nursery – it specialises in ornamental grasses and exotic plants, and visitors can walk around secluded paths through a four-acre garden.  Just down the road towards Ferndown is Trehane Nursery, which specialises in blueberries and camellias – particularly good in the autumn and spring, for out of season visitors.  Stewarts Garden Centres have two sites – one at Somerford near Christchurch and one at Holt near Wimborne.  On Thursday nights there is music to be enjoyed; and a small animal enclosure to keep the children amused.