Dorchester and West Dorset

Landscape, towns and villages

As well as walking, the area is particularly good for cycling with National Cycle Network and other routes to follow, plus fishing, golf, riding, sailing and boat trips along the coast.  The Jurassic coast, as we have seen, is an important destination for tourists – visitors can join guided fossil hunting walks at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre and Lyme Regis Museum.  At the centre of the Jurassic Coast lies Chesil Beach, an 18 mile pebble beach alongside the Fleet Lagoon Nature Reserve, overlooked by St Catherine’s Chapel. (photo?)

There are many villages to visit, with beautiful churches, historic pubs serving local food and famous landmarks. The bigger towns provide markets and more to see and do – how many of these have you visited?

Sherborne –  a medieval market town with no less than two castles, an abbey church and world famous schools.

Lyme Regis – renowned for the number of fossils that are constantly revealed as the cliffs erode. Mary Anning, who lived in Lyme nearly 200 years ago, has been described as ‘the greatest fossilist who ever lived’.  The town’s harbour – the ‘Cobb’ is particularly well-known and there is a popular sandy beach.

As well as being the location of the ITV drama ‘Broadchurch’, West Bay has dramatic cliffs and a pretty harbour, fishing boats and fresh seafood.   Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast can be seen to the West.

Bridport is a vibrant place with a lively market and a reputation for quality local food.  Bridport Arts Centre and Electric Palace offer a full calendar of events.

Finally, Beaminster is a charming rural town, standing at the head of the unspoilt Vale of the River Brit and full of picturesque listed buildings as part of a conservation area.