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As a birthday treat, my in-laws visited 'Sculpture by the Lakes', a haven of peace and tranquillity nestled in the Dorset countryside. They had a day planned of exploring the pretty gardens, taking in the incredible sculptures and had booked out the use of the private island within the grounds for a couple of hours over lunchtime.
If you’re staying at a holiday cottage in or near Lulworth Cove, you are 11 miles from these beautiful gardens, both Kimmeridge and Weymouth are 15 miles away and from the centre of Dorchester, it is just 7 miles. Why not take a trip to this stunning Dorset attraction?
The sculpture gardens
It was a sunny Friday and, at the time, the gardens had an exhibition running with over 30 pieces created by Simon and Monique Gudgeon on display. Simon Gudgeon is known for his smooth, almost silky, sculptures that create an appearance of motion within his subjects, and his work is still on display there today. Gudgeon’s signature minimalist style has inspired countless others and adds to the beauty of the natural world, the perfect accompaniment to the 26 acres of gardens and countryside that make up these exquisite gardens.
The location was easy to find with plenty of parking and as soon as they entered, they felt an atmosphere of calm and began by wandering around the garden and lakes, snapping photographs of beautiful sculptures at every opportunity.
Besides the 3D work, Gudgeon’s sculptures are joined by paintings and drawings by renowned nature artists such as Jason Anderson, Julie Brunn and Guy Combes. You can find these emotive works in The Barn gallery, Gallery Café, and Studio 1.
The private island
After exploring the galleries and gardens, it was time for lunch. My in-laws crossed the small bridge to their own private island sat on beautiful Rainbow Lake.
Surrounded by the gently rippling water and sound of calling birds, this island provides a serene escape for anyone visiting the gardens. An enclosed pavilion provides shelter from the midday sun and soft seating had been laid out purely for their own use. On the island, there is a picnic table with seating for six and a wood burner for the colder months, making this a great spot for family get-togethers or groups of friends who want a chance to meet up and chat in an idyllic setting.
My in-laws have told me that, during their time in this scenic spot, the lakes were not too busy, and it provided a tranquil atmosphere for reading the paper and taking in the sights and sounds of the park. Due to the deep, fast flowing water, only adults and children aged 14 years and above can enter this private section of the park, no babies or dogs are allowed, and it’s been tailored especially for a group of friends looking to hang out in a private, scenic environment.
The Gallery Café
Offering a relaxed and cosy setting, the Gallery Café provides a seasonal menu with ingredients sourced from their very own kitchen garden. It gives a new meaning to ‘field to plate’ when you can see the vegetables growing just around the corner! It’s a delightful place to grab a coffee and cake while admiring more beautiful artwork. When you’ve taken in as much as you can of the sculpture gardens, pass through the gift shop on your way out where you can pick up a memento of your visit.
Need a place to stay?
For more choice of where to stay while in Dorset, take a look at our self-catering cottages in Dorchester.