Dorset is popular as only a southern county with a magnificent coastline can be. But while it has seaside resorts to compare with any, there are also long stretches of unfrequented coast to enjoy, because there are no main roads that hug the coastline. Dorset's Jurassic coast is England's first natural World Heritage site, covering 95 miles of truly stunning coastline from East Devon to The Isle of Purbeck. The coast is famous for its natural geological structures, including Durdle Door, a naturally formed stone arch in the sea near Lulworth, and Old Harry Rocks, a set of chalk sea stacks – independently standing rock formations out in the sea – near Studland. Both of these are visible from the South West Coastal Path, which offers a great way for anybody staying in one of our Dorset coastal cottages to see some of the Jurassic Coast.
If you’re a watersports enthusiast, head for Poole, which boasts the second largest natural harbour in the world and is a haven for wild sea birds. Poole is a vibrant town with a bustling quay, a good variety of shops and restaurants. Poole’s Sandbanks peninsula is renowned for its windsurfing. The neighbouring seaside resort of Bournemouth has seven miles of golden sands and is brimming with shops, restaurants, cafes, bars and night clubs.
The interior of Dorset is carried on the broad backbone of the chalk hills extending southwards from Salisbury Plain. You can appreciate the sweep of the landscape from its high places, the Blackmoor Vale from the Saxon hilltop town of Shaftesbury, the Cranborne Chase from Pentridge Hill, the Stour Valley from Hod Hill. If you choose a Dorset cottage holiday inland, among the hills you will come upon amazing reminders of ancient Dorset, such as the Giant cut in the turf above Cerne Abbas and probably the most impressive Iron Age hill fort in the country, Maiden Castle.
In the inland heart of the county you are constantly enticed onto the byroads by the very names of its villages. Who can resist the urge to discover such places as Worth Matravers, Bingham’s Melcombe, Sydling St Nicholas, Piddletrenthide, Mappowder or Plush? To some Dorset will always be the heart of Hardy country. To them the names on the signposts will always carry an invisible alternative; the names by which they can be identified in the novels and poems of Thomas Hardy.
Dorset is also a county of historic towns and villages: Dorchester – the county town – home and inspiration to Thomas Hardy, Bridport, famous for its rope making, Sherborne, with a great abbey, Corfe Castle, dominated by the ruins of its Norman castle. All are within easy reach of our holiday cottages in Dorset.
We have highlighted some of the county’s best features and hope that they will give you an idea of what is possible during a cottage holiday in Dorset. Our Dorset cottages are high quality, perfect for short weekend breaks or family holidays of a week or more.