The beautiful market town of Dorchester is the county town of Dorset. It is steeped in 6000 years of history and boasts characterful shops and museums, plus a busy Wednesday market. Dorchester was an important town in Roman times and was known as Durnovaria. You are able to visit the Roman Town House, just behind County Hall, which was discovered in the 1930s. Maiden Castle is a complex Iron Age fort that dominates the landscape to the south west of the town.
The famous novelist Thomas Hardy was born in Higher Bockhampton, a small village close by. Although he lived and work in London he returned to the town and published his first novel in 1871. This was followed by other well known works including “Tess of the D’Ubervilles” and “Far from the Madding Crowd”. You can visit his childhood home, Hardy’s Cottage, in the village of Higher Bockhampton and also Max Gate, the house that he designed (built by his brother in 1885), which is located on the outskirts of the town. A statue celebrating the great novelist can be found at the top of the town in Colliton Walk. For more information about shops and restaurants within the town check out the Discover Dorchester website.
Weymouth is just 6 miles south of Dorchester and has a perfectly shaped crescent bay and a gently shelving sandy beach. It is an ideal family resort with donkey rides and the quintessential Punch & Judy show along with many other attractions for all the family. The many guest houses, hotels and restaurants that line the esplanade offer the old world charm of Georgian splendour.
Colourful townhouses, restaurants and cafes line the picturesque old harbour, creating a bustling cosmopolitan atmosphere. Here you can enjoy an array of fishing trips or boat charters, catering from the novice to the serious angler. From here the lifting Town Bridge (built in 1930) leads into the inner harbour packed with yachts. At the end of the inner harbour is Radipole Lake RSPB Reserve, which is well worth a visit for its peace and tranquillity and the wide variety of waterfowl and birds that inhabit the reeds and lagoons.
Weymouth has many claims to fame, a more unfortunate one is that “The Great Plague” is reported to have entered England through there in the mid-14c carried by a sailor on a merchant ship from Gascony. The “Bouncing Bomb” of “Dam Busters” fame was tested in the Fleet Lagoon situated to the west of the town. Nothe Fort, built in 1860 to protect Portland’s harbour, is now an excellent museum hosting many events throughout the year.
Located on the World Heritage coast, the Isle of Portland has unique geology. Its position supports a wide variety of bird and animal life plus 57 species of Butterfly. A causeway with Chesil Beach on one side and the harbour on the other links it to the mainland. The harbour is one of the largest man-made harbours in the world. It was built by the Royal Navy between 1848 to 1905 and played a prominent role in the first and second world wars. Portland was the sailing host of the London 2012 Olympics and remains a perfect setting for sailing, diving and angling. It is also famous for its quarried limestone, which graces many historic London buildings, including Buckingham Palace, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Cenotaph.
The peninsular culminates at Portland Bill with its 136 foot lighthouse, built in 1903. The detached tower of stone known as Pulpit Rock is nearby. Rabbits on Portland have long been associated with bad luck, it is taboo to say the word “rabbit’ on the island. The origins of this superstition can be traced back to the quarry workers, who blamed the furry creatures for rock falls and landslides. The residents of Portland are still offended by the mention of the word rabbit, so it is best to refer to them as “Underground Mutton”, “Things” or “Bunnies” whilst visiting the island.
The Weymouth/Dorchester area offers a huge variety of things to do. Here we have broken down the locale to incorporate the finer detail of what the area has to offer.
The larger towns of Dorchester and Weymouth offer an array of choice for eating and drinking. From snacks to fine dining, all tastes are catered for.
Sandy bays, sheltered coves, wild shingle stretches, reefs, Punch & Judy and pedalos. This area has it all including a naturist area at Ringstead bay. Pets are also allowed to enjoy the fun all year (as long as they are on a lead or in a designated area). So whether its sandcastles and an ice cream or mask and snorkel, the choice is yours.
Folk festivals, food festivals, music festivals, carnivals, fireworks and much, much more!
There are many beautiful villages surrounding the towns of Weymouth and Dorchester. Some have amazing names such as Buckland Ripers and Sutton Poyntz. They offer a rural idyll with great walking across beautiful countryside, local pubs and village shops. However, they are all still in easy reach of all the attractions and entertainment that make your holiday complete.
Why not buy a Jurassic Coast Card? It has some great deals for days out, food and drink and services along the Dorset Coast.
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