If you are feeling active, you can try your hand at just about anything in West Dorset. Walkers can choose from miles of heritage coast path, a programme of over 300 guided coast and countryside walks and events, leisurely pub strolls or fascinating town trails.
There is an excellent range of golf courses and riding centres as well as plenty of opportunities to fish inland or off the coast.
For the latest events and information visit: www.westdorset.com.
See Also: Dorset Towns & Villages | Useful Links
Walking gives you the freedom to get off the beaten track and absorb the sights, sounds and scents of the countryside, to discover attractive villages with their picturesque cottages, fine old churches and welcoming pubs, to explore the nooks and crannies of historic towns full of architectural interest, or simply to admire the views.
Whether you prefer a relaxing ramble or an exhilarating trek, you will find West Dorset offers the perfect walking country. With miles of paths and tracks it is easy to take a short break from the noise and bustle of modern life and enjoy a little exercise at your own pace.
• Liberty Trail
A 28 mile route across the hill and vales from Ham Hill to the Dorset coast of Lyme Regis following the footsteps that Monmouth’s men took in 1685.
• Wessex Ridgeway
Runs for 137 miles from Marlborough in Wiltshire to Lyme Regis and forms part of the Great Ridgeway, an ancient highway providing a long distance path through many of West Dorset’s most beautiful landscapes.
• The South West Coastal Path
• Monarch’s Way
West Dorset is almost entirely designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with a spectacular coastline, and is perfect for exploring on two wheels. You’ll find sleepy villages, bustling market towns, river valleys and gentle chalk downlands behind the famous Chesil Beach.
The NCN (National Cycle Network) is for all cyclists whether you’re a keen cyclist or just looking to have some fun, making the most of cycling in west Dorset.
NCN Route 2 in West Dorset is between Dorchester and the Devon border near Lyme Regis, approximately 30 miles. The entire route is manageable in one day, but has been designed to take in a number of West Dorset’s historic towns and picturesque villages.
The NCN Route 2 passes Champernhayes enabling you to divide up the route and take detours, or plan your own trips off the main rote, and take tome discovering the real west Dorset for yourself.
The Jurassic Coast – England’s first natural World Heritage Site. This unique stretch of coastline has joined the ranks of the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon as one of the wonders of the Natural World. The Dorset and East Devon coast has become a World Heritage Site due to its outstanding geology, which represents 186 million years of earth history in just 95 miles.
The best place to find fossils is in West Dorset – just remember that it is safer to look on the beach, not on the cliffs. It is also worth remembering that the ideal time to find fossils is during the winter months when the rough seas have washed away soft mud and clays, making the Jurassic Coast the perfect choice for a Winter break.
The Jurassic Coast is stunningly beautiful, with unparalleled range of natural features. The variety of beaches, bays and cliffs result in a constantly changing landscape, with such spectacular features as the Hooken Landslide, Chesil Beach and Durdle Door.
The coast is well served by the towns and villages, which act as gateways to the Jurassic site, and you will notice the changing character of the coast due to the use of local stone. Such famous stones as Beer, Portland and Purbeck have shaped the character of the towns and villages and have also been used in the construction of the finest buildings, Cathedrals and churches throughout the UK and the World.
Less than 2 hours drive away, the Eden Project is a global garden for the 21st Century. In the humid Tropics Biome you can experience the sights, smells and sheer scale of the rain forest in the world’s largest greenhouse. Discover the tropical plants found in the products that you use every day and understand the ways in which they are being managed for the future.
With it’s bright and bustling shopping precinct, elegant 18th Century houses, broadwalks and vibrant cultural life, the County town has much to offer. Take time to uncover Dorchester’s history with a visit to the Roman Town House, Maumbury Rings or the Old Crown Court and Cells where the Tolpuddle Martyrs were tried. There are numerous places to eat out and the Wednesday market is well worth visiting.
Bridport is a colourful market town, which dates from the 9th /10th Century and stands where the rivers Brit and Asker meet. It has a fascinating history and was once renowned as the centre of the country’s rope and net making industry. A Georgian Town Hall and the broad streets dominate the town, where the weekly Wednesday and Saturday markets, as well as the Farmers’ market (2nd Saturday in the month), are held.
This Farmers’ market featured in the Channel Four’s ‘Return To River Cottage’ series featuring TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, which was filmed around the Bridport area.
Bridport is a welcoming town and an ideal place to browse, shop and stop for a bite to eat. Take a look at the medieval Chantry House or sample the local brew or a tour of Palmers Brewery.
Once known as Bridport Harbour, the resort village of West Bay has a busy waterfront which buzzes on a summer’s day with its bright kiosks, fishing and pleasure boats. It is an ideal place to take a walk and enjoy a pub lunch or a fresh seafood supper whilst admiring the views – to the West is Lyme Bay and the fossil rich cliffs known as the ‘Jurassic Coast’ and Golden Cap. To the East is the East Cliff and the beginning of the shingle curve of the Chesil Bank.
If you’ve see an episode of the television series ‘Harbour Lights’ starring Nick Berry, the area may seem very familiar to you as filming took place around West Bay and its harbour.
The stretch of coast between Charmouth and Lyme Regis forms the ‘Jurassic Coast’ where fossils dating back 185 million years can be found. Visit the Chamouth Heritage Coast Centre where you can find out how to hunt for and identify fossils and discover the Mary Anning story. There is a safe sandy beach, ideal for rock pooling at low tide and several places to eat.
Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, Lower Sea Lane, Charmouth – offering a wide range of walks, rambles and fossil hunting tours.
Check dates and times with the Centre. Tel: 01297 560772 or www.charmouth.org
Lyme Regis is a narrow tangle of streets that tumble down to its 13th Century Cobb harbour, where a cloaked Meryl Streep famously stood in the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ adapted from the novel by local author, John Fowles.
It is an ancient town with a varied history stretching back to the 8th century. It was from here that ships sailed to meet the Spanish Armada and the Duke of Monmouth landed in 1685. Today Lyme Regis offers fun for all the family with its sheltered beaches, bustling harbour, shops, galleries and many attractions. Why not enjoy the view of Golden Cap, the highest point on the South coast at 626 feet. It gets its name from the top layers of golden sandstone, which glow, in the sunshine.
Fossil hunting with Dr Colin Dawes PhD every Sunday all year round, and every Wednesday and Friday from April to the end of September. Daily during the school half-term holidays. Meet 1.00 pm at the Old Forge Fossil Shop. Duration – 2 hours. If you do not find a fossil you will be given one!
Jazz Festival – why not enjoy a break during the Lyme Regis Jazz Festival.
Bonfire Night Celebrations on the Cobb – torch light procession and firework display from the Cobb in early November.
Check www.lymeregistourism.co.uk for further details of these two events, and more!