West Dorset and nearby East Devon offer wonderful countryside, vibrant towns and pretty fishing villages to explore. The area has also become quite a foodie destination celebrating the best of fresh local produce. Here are a few ideas...
Places to Visit
The area is a wonderful place for walkers to explore with extensive networks of footpaths. The farm borders on a large area of Forestry Commission woodland, a lovely place to walk at any time of year but especially in April/May when the bluebells are in flower. A slightly longer walk brings you to the Iron Age hill forts of Lambert's and Coney's castle NT which offer amazing views.
The South West coast path is a 10 minute drive away, where the more energetic can walk to the top of Golden Cap, the highest point on the South coast.
A very pretty seaside town with harbour and sandy beach. Lots of independent shops and a great choice of places to eat. There are lots of events in the summer from regatta week to the folk festival. In the offseason it's just a lovely place to wander and enjoy a quiet drink by the harbour or a cream tea in one of the pretty cafes.
A lively market town. The Saturday market is well worth a visit with a wide range of stalls selling everything from vegetables to clothes to street food to vintage. You'll find a great assortment of antique and vintage outlets on the St Michael's Trading estate open every day and on the last Sunday of the month there is a huge vintage fair with stalls, music, food and drink.
Fans of Broadchurch can visit nearby West Bay and Burton Bradstock and see where much of the series was shot.
Charmouth is our nearest town, more village really, world famous for its fossils and nominated in 2017 by BBC Countryfile magazine as one of the UK's five best beaches. There is plenty of parking and great walks either along the beach or up on the coast path. The Charmouth Heritage Centre has fossil displays and organises fossil finding walks throughout the year. The best time to find fossils is generally after winter storms have washed a new load down onto the beach.
Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens
A fascinating garden with many exotic and unusual plants. Also famous for it's camellia and magnolia collections.
The nearby Abbotsbury Swannery is also well worth a visit, especially in May/June when hundreds of cygnets hatch in nests along the pathways, literally at your feet.
A 900 year old Cistercian monastery with wonderful spring bulbs, walled kitchen garden, herbaceous borders and 30 acres of informal grounds.
A very romantic Jacobean manor house, recently the setting for Bathsheba Everdene's farm in the film of Far from the Madding Crowd. A spectacular Italianate garden nestles in the valley below the house. Good cafe in the old sawmill.
Places to Eat
In and around Lyme Regis
Hix Oyster and Fish Bar
Worth going to for the view alone, so try and book a table in the window. Lots of wonderful, fresh, locally caught seafood, prepared very simply. The place for a special meal out.
River Cottage HQ
Just outside Lyme and 10 mins drive from here. A great experience, whether you go for a days course or one of their popular Friday or Saturday night communal dinners. There's also the Spring Food Fair in May and the RC Festival in August. If you miss out on a booking at River Cottage HQ there's still the Canteen in nearby Axminster for a flavour of the RC experience.
In the heart of old Lyme, a vegetarian restaurant serving modern, vibrant dishes full of flavour appealing to both vegetarians and meat eaters.
Really good authentic wood-fired pizza to eat in the tiny restaurant or takeaway and enjoy on the beach. Follow with a superb ice cream from Frank and Beans Gelateria.
In and around Bridport
A fantastic new find for us hidden down a tiny alleyway in Bridport. A combination of Asian cuisine and Dorset produce. The dumplings for which they are best known are absolutely delicious.
The Hive Beach Cafe
Right on the beach at Burton Bradstock , a very popular seafood cafe with great homemade cakes. No booking so be prepared to queue at busy times, but worth the wait. Nice to combine with a beach or coast path walk.
A superb restaurant in pretty Beaminster. Named in the Sunday Times as one of the UK's Top 100 Restaurants. One of our favourites and with a very reasonable set lunch menu. A good place to combine with a visit to Mapperton.
And last but not least, half an hour away near Honiton...
The Pig at Coombe
The latest addition to The Pig collection of hotel and restaurants, this has become our go to place for a special meal. Stunning surroundings, superb food and excellent service.