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Chesil Beach

An outstanding view of Chesil Beach and St Catherine’s Chapel below left

Let’s see where to go in West Dorset

If you’re visiting or planning a West Dorset holiday then discover more here and find out what this area offers its visitors with ideas of places to see, to do and experience.

Come and explore the wonderful locations in the area that were filmed for the hugely popular TV series Broadchurch starring David Tennant.

Tulips and thatch roof cottages

A delightful village with tulips and thatch roof cottages

⇒ There’s loads to explore in Dorset

  • Picturesque harbours, headlands and coves
  • Relaxing sandy beaches and fossil hunting beaches
  • The Jurassic Coast World Heritage site
  • Ancient market towns and villages
  • Commanding coastal views and countryside
  • Castles, museums, monuments and churches
  • Gardens, Visitor attractions and street markets
  • Events, exhibitions, festivals and activities
  • Countryside, village and clifftop footpaths
  • The scenic B3157 Jurassic coastal road
  • Great and varied accommodation
  • There’s lots more just waiting to be discovered
sherborne abbey one of the uk's finest

Sherborne Abbey one of the UK’s finest

Visit the historic market towns

Visit the town of Lyme Regis with its historic harbour, known as the Cobb, with the many wonderful boats moored in the harbour. Enjoy the golden sandy beach and pleasant promenade offering an outstanding view along the Jurassic coastline – it’s also a great location to go or try some fishing.

The Jurassic Coast town is renowned for fossils – come to Lyme Regis and explore the fossil musuems, art gallieres and various attractions on offer. The novelist Jane Austen visited the town many times and was well known in Lyme Regis. In fact, her novels often included references and descriptions of Lyme Regis.

Lyme Regis Bay

Even on a spring day Lyme Regis is always popular with visitors

With its large and picturesque harbour, Weymouth is a coastal holiday resort attracting many visitors throughout the year for their Dorset holidays, and enjoys many attractions and activities for its visitors.

Weymouth is a great destination for holidays or short breaks with the huge golden sandy beach and long Georgian era esplanade, along with the attractons like the SeaLife Adventure Park and the popular Jurassic Skyline.

There are museums, various exhibitions and events throughout the year, as well as theatres, gardens and markets and a bustling shopping centre. It’s a lively, fun and enjoyable seaside resort and its a great place to visit and everyone is welcome.

Weymouth esplanade and beach

Weymouth esplanade and the inviting sandy beach

The delightful town of Bridport is such a lovely place to visit and stay. It’s world-renowned for its rope making industry dating back over 700 years, and is also based in the town is Palmers Brewery, brewing fine ales there since 1794.

The town has very popular street markets twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and they’re definitely worth exploring the market stalls and see what’s on offer.

Bridport also has a thriving Arts Scene including the Bridport Arts Centre and the Electric Palace vintage theatre as well as various art galleries to browse.

The excellent Bridport Museum with its local Dorset history, has been newly totally re-developed. There’s also a popular and quirky Bridport Hat Festival event held in the town every year.

Palmbers Brewery in Bridport

Palmers Brewery in Bridport has been brewing since 1794

In the beautiful town of Sherborne, there’s two castles to explore. The new one of Sherborne Castle with its substantial and pleasant grounds is a great day out, and the older Castle to visit is owned by English Heritage and located further along the road.

Sherborne Abbey is one of the best and finest Abbey’s you’ll ever come across. Founded by St. Aldhelm in AD705 Sherborne Abbey has developed from Saxon cathedral to the worshipping heart of a monastic community, and is one of England’s most beautiful churches. A visit is highly recommended.

With places to visit it’s also pleasant to wander around admiring the various buildings, or relaxing in the delighful gardens.

the castle and grounds of sherborne castle

The castle and grounds of Sherborne Castle

The county town of Dorset is Dorchester and in the heart of Dickens’ country! The famous novelist Charles Dickens lived in Dorchester and was born nearby.

Dorchester goes back to prehistoric times and long before the Romans arrived, but is perhaps more well known when occupied by the Romans. At the top of town visit the remains and mosaics of a Roman Town House and on the edge of the town is the new development village of Poundbury which is built on Duchy land.

There’s so much to see and to do in Dorchester with places to visit such as the Terracotta Warriors Musem, the Dorset County Museum, the Keep Military Museum and the Iron Age hillfort Maiden Castle. There’s also many more attractions to see like the Tutankamun Exhibition, the Mummies Exhibition, and also in the area is the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum.

visit historic dorchester

Visit historic Dorchester

“Visit West Dorset recommends seeking out the local Tourist Information Centres (TIC) for advice and further info about where to go and where to stay”

Browse the various town markets

Traditional Markets are popular in Dorset and in Bridport there’s twice-weekly street markets are held throughout the year.

In Dorchester, market day is on a Wednesday and the town of Sherborne has various markets during the week throughout the year. In Charmouth the market is held on Mondays in the summer only.

bridport street market

Bridport street market day

Wander around impressive harbours

There are delightful harbours to explore in West Dorset. Lyme Regis harbour is known as the Cobb, possibly dating back to late 13th/early 14 Century and is a Grade I listed structure.

It’s right by the golden sandy beach and offers spectacular views along the Jurassic coastline. It was also the location for a scene from ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ starring Meryl Streep which was filmed here in the early 1980s.

The Cobb

The historic Cobb at Lyme Regis harbour

West Bay, also sometimes known as Bridport harbour, is a lovely gem right in the heart of Broadchurch country. It’s a great harbour to stroll round and is very popular with visitors.

There’s various stalls and inns around the harbour and the Jurassic Coast cliffs rise high up on both sides of the harbour. It’s also great area for walking the clifftop footpaths too.

view of west bay harbour and cliff top walk

West Bay Harbour and cliff top walk

There’s a large harbour at Weymouth which is very popular with visitors, tourists and the locals, who enjoy strolling around enjoying the comings and goings of the varous boats, yachts and not forgetting the fishing boats.

Very good looking yachts and cruisers can pass through the road swing bridge when it opens up at certain times to allow the vessels to enter into the large mooring part of the harbour.

With pubs, inns and places to eat around the harbour its a very pleasant place to be. There’s a long harbour arm to walk along offering great and commanding views looking back to the olong sandy beach, esplanade and the town.

Weymouth harbour

Weymouth harbour

⇒ Did You Know?

  • The world-renowned rope and net making industry in Bridport dates back more than 700 years to before King John and the Middle Ages
  • Palmers Brewery in Bridport has been brewing since 1794
  • In 1651 King Charles II escaped capture in Lee Lane, Bridport
  • Follow in the footsteps of the Neolithic period on the The Ridgway causeway
  • The Swannery, established by Benedectine monks at Abbotsbury has been there since the 1040s where they also built the monastery, later destroyed during the dissolution in 1539
  • Dorchester was founded by the Romans in approx 60 AD, but was inhabited for 1,000s of years before the Romans arrived
A Dorset village nestled below rolling hills

Rolling hills with sheep and a picturesque Dorset village nestled below

Explore the picturesque villages

There are literally loads of picturesque villages to explore in West Dorset – to numerous to mention them all here. One that is very popular with visitors is the village of Abbotsbury with its thatch roof cottages, tea rooms and access to the footpaths.

In Abbotsbury you can enjoy a visit to the 600 year old Swannery, the Sub-Tropical Gardens and the Children’s Farm. It’s highly recommended to take awalk up to St Catherine’s Chapel to enjoy the glorious and commanding views of Chesil Beach and the Jurassic coastline.

Another delightful and popular village is Burton Bradstock with thatched roof cottages, a beautiful church, various footpaths walks and streams and two renowned pubs.

Hive Beach, and the very popular Hive Beach Cafe, at Burton Bradstock is a popular pebble beach with its 45m high Jurassic cliffs – please take care by the eroding and falling cliffs.

burton bradstock thatch cottage

Beautiful thatch cottage, Burton Bradstock

Discover footpath after foothpath

Visit and explore the area’s the many footpaths and bridleways! West Dorset is certainly a walker’s paradise being out in the beautiful and peaceful Dorset countryside and the Jurassic coastline.

Enjoy walks through meadows, fields and woods, and along some enchanting countryside streams and rivers – you might even discover a delightful waterfall as seen on the hit TV series Broadchurch.

With access to The Ridgway, a Neolithic causeway and a national trail, and the South West Coast Path, a long distance path.

waterfall and stream

Discover streams, rivers and waterfalls

Visit the various Visitor Attractions…

sculpture by the lakes

Sculpture by the Lakes near Dorchester

Dorset is a great place to visit for the many and varied Visitor Attractions – whether it’s castles, churches or monuments to enjoying a family day out at places like Kingston Maurward Gardens & Animal Park, Athelhampton House & Gardens, Sculpture by the Lakes, Forde Abbey House & Gardens and much more.

West Dorset is also a great area for art lovers to explore the numerous galleries, unique shops and arts centres.

“Explore the many wonderful visitor attractions and events in West Dorset”

…as well as Events and Exhibitions

As well as attractions the area hosts many popular events, festivals and exhibitions throughout the year including the Weymouth Seafood Festival, the Dorset County Show, the Bridport Hat Fest, Fossil Festivals, and Folk and Music Festivals.

Plus, many of the villages hold local talks, events, festivals, exhibitions and more which are held throughout the year.

fossil hunting at charmouth

Fossil hunting on Charmouth beach

Enjoy Activities on West Dorset holidays

On your Dorset visit holiday or visit explore the many activities available along the Jurassic Coast, in the towns, the villages and countryside.

Try your hand at fossil hunting, but please follow the fossil hunting rules, or even better go on an organised fossil hunt! The Jurassic Coastline is a great area for fishing, or perhaps you prefer to take a fishing boat trip – or forget the fishing and just enjoy a boat ride, you can even to hire a river boat and have some fun!

As well as walking and hiking, if you like cycling, then explore the various cycling routes along the quiet country lanes – it’s a great place to get out on a bike and enjoy the glorious countryside.

It’s great for Short Breaks and Holidays

Dorset has everything for holidays and short breaks, with great walks, hiking, various activities, outstanding countryside, villages and towns and the Jurassic Coast – plus you can explore the filming locations of Broadchurch.

West Dorset is an excellent choice for its traditions, great food, locally caught seafood and local specialities such as Dorset apple cake, traditional inns with log fires serving local beers and cider, fine restaurants, cafes, pubs and eateries.

abbotsbury village

Cream teas and Dorset apple cake in Abbotsbury

“West Dorset and its Jurassic coastline… there’s so much to discover and explore!”