Part of Dorset’s charm is how unspoilt it is, but the lack of motorways means getting into the county can be difficult. There are plenty of alternatives to the car, it is worth making yourself aware of Dorset’s public transport to ensure you can offer advice. Live travel information is available on the Travel Dorset website maintained by Dorset County Council.
There are three rail routes running through Dorset:
The main railway line that runs through Dorset from London Waterloo is the South West service to Weymouth via Bournemouth and Poole. Also operating on this line as far as Bournemouth is Cross-Country Trains with services from Newcastle and Manchester and intermediate stations.
In the north of Dorset South-West Trains operates a service from London Waterloo to Gillingham, Templecombe and Sherborne which continues into Devon as far as Exeter.
There’s a third line from Bristol to Dorchester and Weymouth on weekdays. This is known as “The Heart of Wessex” line and is operated by First Great Western trains.
Most long-distance express coaches are operated by National Express. The main Dorset hub is the Bournemouth Travel Interchange adjacent to Bournemouth Railway Station, with coaches to and from London, and across Poole, Wareham, Swanage, Dorchester & Weymouth (and Heathrow and Gatwick Airports!). One service travels between Cornwall and Sussex stopping at several Dorset towns along the south coast, and in the north of Dorset there’s a daily service to London from Sherborne & Shaftesbury.
Many parts of Dorset and the World Heritage Jurassic Cost are inaccessible by public transport, but if you’re staying in the Bournemouth area Discover Dorset Tours operates a range of half-day and full-day tours of Dorset by mini-coach. They’ll even pick you up from your hotel or b&b. Their “Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door” tour gives you up to 3 hours to explore that part of the Jurassic Coast on your own, with the help of maps they supply.
In the Bournemouth/Poole/Christchurch conurbation the principal bus operators are More Bus (Wilts & Dorset), Yellow Buses and Bournemouth University. In rural areas the principal bus companies are Damory Coaches, More Bus Company and First Dorset. A complete list of all bus timetables in Dorset is available on the Travel Dorset website (Dorset County Council).
Bearing in mind that many people use buses to see the wonderful Dorset scenery, you could recommend the Purbeck Breezer, operated by Wilts & Dorset (More). There are two routes – the Number 40 which goes from Poole bus station through Wareham and Corfe to Swanage; and the Number 50 which leaves from Bournemouth Interchange to Sandbanks and Swanage (part of its journey is on the ferry between Sandbanks and Studland!) 44 Swanage-Worth Matravers, the routes run all-year round and are usually a double-deck open-top bus. http://www.purbeckbreezer.co.uk/
The Jurassic Coaster buses are operated by First Dorset which runs all the way from Poole to Exeter, along the Jurassic Coast.
X51 Axminster – Lyme Regis – Bridport – Dorchester
X52 Exeter – Seaton (Services operate approximately every two hours.)
X53 Axminster – Lyme Regis – Bridport – Abbotsbury – Weymouth
X54 Weymouth – Wool – Wareham – Poole (Services operate approximately every two hours.)
X55 Weymouth – Durdle Door – Lulworth Cove – Wool – Tank Museum (This service will operate between Saturday 28 May and Sunday 4 September.)
There’s a regular chain ferry across Poole Harbour entrance between Sandbanks and Shell Bay. This carries buses, cars and pedestrians.
Condor Ferries operates a year-round service to the Channel Islands and a link to St. Malo in France; and there are numerous summer boat cruises and ferry services from Bournemouth Pier, Poole Quay, Swanage and Weymouth.
Dorset’s airport is Bournemouth, situated at Hurn, near Christchurch, and there’s an hourly bus link from Bournemouth Rail Station and Town Centre. Southampton Airport has one of the shortest plane-to-train connections in Europe. It takes just 90 seconds to walk from the terminal to the train platform, with two trains an hour to South Dorset.
For more information on Dorset transport and travel, visit the widely respected website www.dorset-transport.info/
Well done! Now press ‘Mark Complete’ and you will taken to the Dorset County Quiz. Once you have passed that can move on to the last stage of becoming a Dorset Ambassador.