Dorset, in the South West of England, is a county that is truly blessed. With over 50% of it being classed as ‘an area of outstanding natural beauty’, it boasts not only beautiful coast line and picturesque in-land countryside, but also a wealth of things to do, places to visit AND apparently a very strong record for being a sunny hot spot in England. (Sadly, the latter didn’t quite materialise on my recent visit, and instead I was subject to a deluge of almost constant rain. Despite this, Dorset’s charm was certainly not washed away and, in fact, it added to that ‘quintessentially British’ character building summer time fun us Brits have come to know and love).
Where to stay?
For those with a healthy travel budget, The Pig on the beach is a perfectly situated hotel in Studland. As the name hints, it is set right on the seafront and the village of Studland is not only home to 4 miles of beautiful beaches but also a nature reserve. The location allows you easy access to all of my suggestions for the weekend, but a car in Dorset is a bit of a must so if you’re travelling from abroad or don’t have one, hire one.
For those looking for a more wallet friendly option, there are plenty of Air BnB choices in Studland and the surrounding areas. Many come with sea views of their own, so it’s worth looking at your options.
And if you’re a real optimist and willing to believe the statistics that say sunshine is likely in Dorset, then you could try a spot of glamping or even camping. There are loads of camping options with this area being a popular spot for more adventurous types. And if a little camping luxury is more your thing, then check out Knaveswell Farm. They’re open to families too, with a small farm to entertain the kids (or a kidult like me).
What to do?
Immerse yourself in history
With your location, you will have access to one of the National Trust’s treasures: Corfe Castle. If you’re a fan of history, these rubble-like remains of an old castle provide some colourful history going way back to 1086. Note: there seems to be an unnerving theme of imprisonment in this castle!
What I loved most about the castle were the views it afforded you once you reached the top. It overlooks the equally historic Corfe village and surrounding rolling fields. Take a picnic and make a day of it, and keep your eyes peeled for extra fun activities on offer. Whilst we were there, so were the Tudors… dressed up and showing off their coin making skills and historic toilet facilities. If you time it right, you might even be in the area for one of the open air cinema events there!
One absolute must for your visit is a pit stop in the tea shop. A cream tea in the outside garden area overlooking the castle was a highlight of my whole weekend.
Take an epic coastal walk
Head to the charming little village of Worth Matravers (and be sure to check out the village duck pond on route) and take a walk along to Seacombe. The walk will provide you with majestic views across the Jurassic coast and is an ideal stress-busting activity for your weekend in the fresh Dorset air. It should take you around 2 hours and is circular, ending backing at The Square and Compass Pub, should you wish! There are other walk options from Worth Matravers and information on those can be found here.
Find your inner child at a seaside town
If the weather is positively Mediterranean, you may have no trouble filling the entire weekend with outdoor escapades and pub gardens. But, and ever the realist, if at least a small portion of your weekend threatens to be a little wet and drizzly or grey and overcast, pop to Swanage. It’s a no-frills, good old-fashioned British seaside town. Think Punch and Judy puppet shows on the beach, plentiful fish and chip shops and importantly, an all-lights-flashing games arcade. If feeding pounds worth of 2p pieces into a machine in the hope you’ll win a chupa chup lolly or bashing the heads of plastic crocodiles isn’t your idea of fun, then what’s wrong with you? In all seriousness though, on a rainy afternoon this was a great way to while away some time and made even better by with a portion of chips and an ice cream. And if you’re looking for even more cheesy seaside town entertainment, the bigger seaside town of Weymouth is about a 45minute car ride away.