Christchurch and East Dorset

Towns and scenery

We have seen how the beaches, quays and harbours are part of why visitors choose to visit East Dorset.   You may also like to tell visitors all about the many walking trails, a great way to explore the area and see the scenery. For example there are trails from Double Dyke to the tip of Mudeford Spit, as well as the walk up to the top of Hengistbury Head for views across the sea towards Bournemouth and Poole.

Wimborne Minster is a thriving market town, famous for its Minster Church and Quarterjack clock.  As it is only eight miles from Bournemouth and Poole, 40 minutes from Southampton and Salisbury and just two hours from London and Bristol it is a great day out for visitors.  In addition to good shopping, restaurants and pubs, Wimborne has plenty of historic visitor attractions, such as the art deco Tivoli Theatre; the Priests House Museum, the Walford Mill Craft Centre and a famous Model Town, a great attraction for children where they can see Wimborne recreated in miniature.  It also has the thriving Wimborne Market, held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.  Not far away is the National Trust property Kingston Lacy House, Gardens and Parkland, a stately home with free entry for National Trust members; and the Iron Age hill fort Badbury Rings.

There are also many pretty villages throughout this part of the county – many with memorable names!  We have learnt about the novels of Thomas Hardy in the county module – Cranborne in East Dorset on the River Crane is ‘Chaseborough’ in his novels.  The wartime poet Rupert Brooke also stayed in Cranborne and wrote a poem about it.  The village has two pubs, a restaurant, village stores selling local produce and a garden centre.  Three villages in east Dorset are known as the ‘Gussages’ – Gussage St Andrew, Gussage St Michael and Gussage All Saints, and all are worth seeing (‘Gussage’ means ‘gush of water’).  In Long Crichel you can find the Famous Hedgehog bakery, home of the Hedgehog bread.

Wimborne St Giles is a village which forms part of the Shaftesbury Estate, and is home to the Great Dorset Chilli Festival, held in August each year and one of the ‘hottest’ events in Dorset!   Edmondsham House and Gardens is a stately Tudor/Georgian house near Cranbourne, which is open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays April to October (the house is only open in April and October so it is worth checking).