- Countryside Hardy’s hills, coastal thrills
- Country life From beach to pub to cricket field
Dorset is a tale of two landscapes: the chalky downlands of Cranborne Chase and the Purbeck Hills, with their pretty villages and grand houses; and the wild, adventure-friendly Jurassic Coast, rebranded but untamed.
Uniting the two are this sunny county’s sunny disposition and approachable nature, not to mention a market renaissance that has Dorset’s bakeries, kitchens and restaurants catching up with its breweries and orchards. A single weekend down here can take you from ocean‑view hike to Bridport brasserie; from Iron Age hill fort to sailing lessons in Poole Harbour (the second largest in the world). Neither London‑on‑sea trendy, nor too remote for a quick getaway, Dorset’s resorts and countryside are favourites for natural beauty, fair weather and good old‑fashioned fun.
Do go/Don’t go
Summer’s a shoo-in, with Dorset among the UK’s top five sunniest counties. May is wonderful for seeing the coastal-path flowers at their height. Winter can be forbidding for serious Jurassic hikes, but among the gentle beaches and resorts, the off-season coast is a treat.
Planes Bournemouth International Airport (www.bournemouthairport.com) has links with Glasgow | Dublin | Shannon and New York | as well as many European cities. There’s a shuttle bus that connects the airport to Bournemouth railway station (www.yellowbuses.co.uk).
Boats There are passenger ports at Poole and Weymouth, with connections to France and the Channel Islands.
Trains From London, the South Western Main Line runs down to Bournemouth, Poole, Dorchester and Weymouth; or there’s the West of England Main Line, which passes through Sherborne. Go to www.nationalrail.co.uk to plan your journey.
Automobiles Not a single motorway carves through Dorset; from London | take the M3 to Andover or Winchester | then it’s A roads all the way.
- Taxis The number for the main taxi rank outside Bournemouth railway station is +44 (0)1202 556166. In Bridport, we recommend Beeline Taxis (+44 (0)1308 425555); in Dorchester, Pete’s Cabs (+44 (0)1305 251122).