Holiday like a local in Dorset – 10 lesser-known places to visit!
Many people when visiting Dorset, like to stay away from some of the most visited and busy places and, with this in mind, our team have put together a list of 10 lesser-known local haunts, perfect if you are looking to enjoy a slower pace of life and some hidden gems during your holiday in Dorset.
Symondsbury Estate covers 1,500 acres of farmland and woodland in the West Dorset countryside, just outside the market town of Bridport.
It consists of a café, home & garden store, fashion store, cycle hire shop, gallery and more and is a popular place among locals for a delicious lunch, a walk up Colmer’s Hill and a visit to see the donkeys, pigs and sheep.
Dogs are welcome, there is ample parking, free wifi, its open 7 days a week and is accessible for wheelchairs.
Lambert’s Castle is an iron age hillfort situated high above the Marshwood Vale, an idyllic and unspoiled Dorset valley, surrounded by some of the highest hills in Dorset, such as Eggardon, Lewesdon and Pilsdon.
The views are simply incredible! It’s a National Trust site so there is a car park, dogs are allowed and the hill fort of Coney’s Castle is less than a mile away, so both can be explored easily in an afternoon. It’s a great place for a picnic, kite flying or a dog walk.
The Three Horseshoes
The Three Horseshoes is a local family pub, situated in the pretty village of Burton Bradstock with its 17th and 18th Century cottages. The pub itself is thatched, three hundred years old and is within walking distance of the stunning Hive Beach and coast path. Just along the road is the playing field with children’s play area.
The pub is dog friendly, welcomes children and muddy boots! There is a beautiful garden with gazebos, gas heaters and plenty of seating. The menus reflect the local area and change seasonally with the local produce that is available during the year. The pub is popular with local residents and recently won gold at the South West Tourism Awards.
Bridport is home to our flagship holiday park, Highlands End, but also has a fantastic history and a net and rope making town over many centuries and is known for its art and antiques scene. A market has operated in the town since around 1253 and still operates twice-weekly to this day, every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am until early afternoon. The selection of stalls includes food, art, books, flowers and bric-a-brac.
This is a popular attraction for locals throughout the year, as well as holidaymakers during the summer season especially. There are also monthly Farmer’s Markets, Bridport Vintage & Antique Market, ‘Vinyl Saturday’ and a regular Vegan Market. There are a number of different car parks available in the town centre.
Chapman’s Pool is a pretty little cove, similar in appearance to Lulworth Cove, but it’s relative inaccessibility makes it much more peaceful and more popular with locals. The cove is lined by fossil-rich cliffs and the water is often crystal clear making it great for swimming and snorkelling.
The car park is free and located on the clifftop. It’s a 20 to 30 minute walk to the beach and a steep walk back to the car so ensure to take plenty of water, food and other essentials like sun scream and some form of shade if taking a dog with you – the beach is dog friendly all year round. The Square and Compass pub in Worth Matravers is a great place to visit for refreshments on the way home.
Mangerton Mill is a 17th Century water mill and museum of rural bygones. There is a tea room / café and craft centre. The mill is set on the River Manger, in a peaceful valley in the village of Mangerton near Bridport.
The mill was primarily used to grind barley back in the day and was powered by a 12ft diameter water wheel made from cast iron and solid oak. This wheel is still on display. There is a scenic walk along the river where trout fishing is also available.
Ninesprings Country Park
Ninesprings Country Park is located over the border into Somerset, on the outskirts of the town of Yeovil. The beautiful park consists of 20 acres of lakes, streams, springs and waterfalls that flow down through an enchanted wooded valley.
There is an abundance of wildlife including birds, reptiles, bees and butterflies. There is a large car park, a café, children’s play area, cycle path and information centre. It’s a great spot for a picnic, dog walk or a place to take the kids. It’s much more well-known among locals and despite its proximity to a town centre, it’s hidden away and a lovely, quiet spot.
Fossil Hunting on Charmouth Beach
Charmouth Beach is one of the best locations anywhere in the world for fossil hunting. The famous coastline has been home to many spectacular discoveries, including giant marine reptiles and intricate ammonites. The beach at Charmouth, both east and west from the River Char are popular weekend walks for local residents along the beach, with some fossil hunting thrown in.
There is plenty of parking, refreshments and the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is worth exploring, with its interactive displays and wardens who offer advice and can help to identify your finds. There is also a fossil shop with a display and gifts to purchase. It is well worth taking a guided fossil hunt walk with Jurassic Coast Guides, an award-winning local business.
Little Bredy Waterfall & Walled Gardens
Little Bredy is a true hidden gem in the Bride Valley. Situated at the head of the River Bride is a lake and waterfall, surrounded by tall trees. To reach it, there’s a lovely network of lanes through the valley from Burton Bradstock and it is worth a visit to Hardy’s Monument too, which is located at the top of the hill just a short drive from the waterfall.
Little Bredy is a small village and there is only a couple of parking spaces available for the waterfall, next to the road outside the Churchyard. Nearby you will find the 5 acre Little Bredy Walled Gardens, which is open a couple of days a week.
Tyneham & Worbarrow Bay
Only open at the weekends and during school holidays, due to being in the Lulworth Ranges, Tyneham and Worbarrow are a fascinating place to visit. The village of Tyneham is a village frozen in time after being evacuated during the second World War and the residents were never able to return.
It’s worth a walk around the village to see a snapshot of life during this time and there are exhibitions about the village and villagers. Just a flat 1 mile walk from the car park at Tyneham, is the beach of Worbarrow Bay, a beautiful sweeping cove. Tall cliffs flank one end of the beach and if you are feeling adventurous, there are incredible views from the top of them at Flowers Barrow. There are no facilities at the beach, so ensure you have everything you need with you. The beach is dog friendly all year round.
West Dorset Leisure Holidays
West Dorset Leisure Holidays are a family run group of 5 holiday parks on or near the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. The parks offer excellent accommodation and facilities and each of them is unique, so you are bound to find one to suit you. Accommodation includes lodges, caravans, glamping and pitches for touring & camping.
Facilities include Martin’s Bar & Restaurant, Highlands End Leisure Club, the Little Fire Station Soft Play and park nature trails. The parks are family friendly, dog friendly and are situated in beautiful coastal and countryside locations with a great range of places to visit and things to do nearby. We have caravan and lodge holiday homes for sale across all 5 parks. Find out more here, or check availability and make a booking.