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Dorset holiday parks

Why you should consider a holiday park for your West Dorset holiday

Guest blog by Robbie from Holiday Park Guru

freshwater holiday park

Holiday park on the Jurassic Coast

If holiday parks make you think of Heidi Hi and knobbly knee competitions then I’d encourage you to take another look. Nowadays, they provide a cheap accommodation option for families or groups holidaying together.

Dorset has a choice of more than 25 holiday parks or more if you include those which offer things like posh lodges rather than caravans. Make sure you do a bit of research first as they vary massively in terms of quality and what they offer.

”Broadly speaking, you can split Dorset’s holiday parks into two groups”

The first group of holiday parks are big, busy and full of entertainment. If you felt inclined you could probably go for a full week without leaving the site, although personally I’d rather explore the county’s coastline a little. They are usually part of big chains and nearly always have indoor swimming pools as well as a restaurant, a variety of sports pitches and kids’ clubs. In the evening, there is usually entertainment for the grown-ups. The posher ones have saunas, gyms and more unusual activities like bushcraft or watersports.

You’ll generally find these busy parks around the bigger towns in Dorset, so you can also get to the most popular family attractions without a long drive.

The second group of holiday parks are those which offer only very basic facilities, with a focus on location, peace and relaxation. If evening entertainment, noisy swimming pools and hundreds of other families sounds like a nightmare then I’d take a look at these.

fossil hunting at charmouth

Fossil hunting on Charmouth beach

Although quieter parks usually don’t offer much more entertainment than a launderette and a playing field, they are a decent base for exploring Dorset. They are often in prime locations near to the Jurassic coastline and have a friendly, family-run feel.

Prices vary, but if you’re travelling in a group of 4, 6 or 8 you’ll struggle to find a cheaper alternative (unless you’re willing to camp or have a generous aunt with a second home in Lyme Regis).

Of course, it’s worth reading a few reviews to get an idea of whether it is a nice modern park or one which is due for an upgrade. Most big holiday parks have an overall review score, which will include the usual range of people who thought it was amazing through to those who had their week ruined because they lost their pound in the swimming pool locker.

The second is reviews of different class of caravan. If a big holiday park has recently upgraded or replaced its ‘bronze’ caravans you might find they get better reviews than the more expensive options.

Holiday Park Guru is a guide to caravan parks in England and Wales

burton bradstock jurassic coast

The Jurassic Coast at Burton Bradstock

Discover Portesham


logo-75-cut-vers5-gravatar-circle-whiteSpotlight on West Dorset…

Explore Portesham village

Portesham in West Dorset is one of those villages you can drive past without stopping as you think there’s probably not a lot there. Next time you’re passing Portesham village pull in and stop and you’ll be pleasantly surprised what this small village can offer.

It’s in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and just 2 miles from Abbotsbury and approximately 11 miles from Bridport and under 8 miles from Dorchester or Weymouth.

Along a scenic coast road…

The drive along the B3157 coast road is an exceptionally scenic route taking in the villages and towns of West Dorset with its amazing views of the Jurassic Coast and the beautiful countryside.

Stop here in Portesham and you’ll discover a delightful small village below Blackdown Hill which rises to approximately 236 metres.

It’s very refreshing to take an energetic walk up Blackdown Hill and beyond. The views are stunning looking back down over the village of Portesham and over to the coast. It’s definitely worth the effort!

Hardy’s Monument…

Follow the footpaths to the Hardy Monument – his 18thC house where Hardy lived is on the main road. This monument is to Captain Thomas Hardy who fought under Lord Nelson on the HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. The monument stands at 22 metres high and you’ll enjoy the 360° views of the surrounding countryside of the county.

Also above on Blackdown Hill you can explore the South Dorset Ridgeway, a natural causeway track used during the Neolithic era and now still a great area for walking. Follow in the footsteps of Neolithic man and discover this ancient track.

Monuments and earthworks…

Walk along the footpaths of the South Dorset Ridgeway an explore ancient monuments and earthworks including the Hellstone long barrow on the hill above Portesham. Hellstone is at least 5,000 years old and one of the oldest monuments in Dorset.

Also on the hill above Portesham you can connect with the long distance South West Coast Path, which is great whether it’s just for a short walk or amble, or for more energetic and medium walks. For walkers who like a challenge and experienced long distance walkers the coastal path covers 630 miles around the south west coast of England from Minehead in Somerset to the shores of Poole Harbour in Dorset.

Glorious walks everywhere…

There are some excellent walks along footpaths and bridleways all over the surrounding area, and one excellent and enjoyable such walk is along the disused railway line from Portesham to Abbotsbury. It’s approximately 5 miles and easy going through beautiful West Dorset countryside.

Stop by, stay and eat…

There’s the excellent Kings Arm Portesham Pub & Restaurant by the main road serving local ales and cider as well as great food. Close by is a busy and the lovely Ducks Farm Shop selling locally produced products and also has an excellent cafe serving food including delicious breakfasts.

If touring and camping is your thing there’s an excellent, and friendly, campsite close to the Farm Shop. Portesham Dairy Farm Campsite is a great camping & touring park with pitches available for caravans, motorhomes and tents.

Visit Portesham and enjoy outstanding walks up in the hills and along footpaths and bridleways.

So there you go! Portesham is a great little village to stop, explore and enjoy outstanding walks up in the hills and along footpaths and bridleways.

Just to recap look at these great points – you won’t be disappointed!

  • Great area for walking with paths and bridleways
  • Just 2 miles from Abbotsbury and Swannery
  • Close to the South Dorset Ridgeway and South West Coast Path
  • Access to Hellstone long barrow, ancient monument and earthworks
  • Captain Thomas Hardy monument with 360° views
  • On the exceptionally scenic B3157 coastal road
  • Ducks Farm Shop
  • Kings Arms Pub & Restaurant
  • Portesham Dairy Farm caravan, touring & camping park


To discover more about West Dorset go to: