48 Hours in and around the Dorset Coast - A weekend in Dorset
Here’s my suggestions for what to do for a weekend in Dorset and around the Dorset coast.
Dorset, situated on the South Coast of England boasts some of the country’s finest blue flag awarded beaches & the world renowned Jurassic Coast.
Stretching for 95 miles starting from Old Harry Rocks at Studland Bay before leaving the county towards Devon.
Whether you want to fossil hunt in Lyme Regis or sunbathe on Bournemouth beach the choices are endless.
Rich in natural beauty, Dorset is full of rolling countryside & possibilities to see wildlife in abundance.
Arguably Dorset’s most famous landmark; the towering limestone arch at Durdle Door with the picturesque horseshoe bay of Lulworth cove nearby & Thomas Hardy’s picture postcard cottage near the historical County market town of Dorchester.
Britain’s largest Iron Age hill Fort Maiden Castle dating back to 600 BC lies just 2 miles south of Dorchester & the family friendly County Museum is also situated in the town.
Your weekend in Dorset would not be complete without a ride on Bournemouth’s Big Wheel, standing more than 100 feet tall and providing views across this award winning resort, maybe you could even watch the sunset here.
Friday Afternoon in Mudeford Quay
My ideas for what to do for your weekend in Dorset starts here, easily reached from all major routes you will leave the busy motorways behind as you enter Dorset & head for the beauty of the coast.
One of 5 counties in the UK with zero motorways you will feel your tensions leave you as you arrive at Mudeford Quay, the entrance to Christchurch harbour, grab your bucket & crab line & see if you can grab your own catch of the day (please return them to their home before you leave however).
Visit the Haven Inn for a late lunch, or grab some fresh seafood from the stall there, before hopping aboard the little ferry to Hengistbury Head, a mostly unspoilt area, with walking routes that lead to spectacular and panoramic views of the nature reserve, Christchurch Harbour, Bournemouth Bay and across to the Isle of Wight.
Grab your cameral & take some snaps of the colourful beach huts & some of the residents; over 300 types of birds, an amazing variety of insects, reptiles and small mammals – adders, skylarks, sand-lizards and Natterjack toads (one of Britain’s rarest creatures) all have this as their postcode.
Friday Evening in Christchurch
After all that sea air you will most likely be feeling hungry, so head to your hotel for the night, I’d recommend Christchurch Harbour Hotel where you can dine at their Jetty restaurant which is situated right on the water’s edge & specialises in locally caught seafood.
Explore the pretty town of Christchurch, and check out The Boathouse overlooking the Quay with both indoor & outdoor seating & their very own crazy golf course, this modern restaurant is one of our favourites and we always enjoy our meal there.
After dinner you can feed the eager swans at the quay & walk through the ancient priory – the longest parish church in Great Britain, as you return to your bed for the night.
Saturday morning in Bournemouth
Feeling refreshed after a great night’s sleep it’s time to be adventurous and explore what Bournemouth has to offer.
Home to AFC Bournemouth & award winning beaches there is something to offer any age here.
Park in one of the towns many car parks and take a leisurely stroll through the gardens, awash with colour in the spring and summer and don’t miss the spectacular Christmas light trail that appears in late November. You might even be lucky enough to hear some local music played at the bandstand before finding yourself at the pier approach.
Climb aboard the big wheel and see Bournemouth in all its glory, take a walk on the pier & try your luck in the amusement, no weekend in Dorset wouldn’t be complete without sitting on the beach with a portion of Harry Ramsden’s famous chips in your hand.
Saturday lunchtime in Sandbanks
Sandbanks with it’s stunning golden sandy beaches is a small peninsula or spit crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour & is home to some of the most expensive properties in the world. It is also home to Harry Redknapp, if you’re not keen on football then you will know him from I’m a celebrity get me out of here and he can often be spotted in the local cafes and restaurants dotting the beach and harbour.
As you drive into this playground of the rich & famous you will see glimpses of soft white sands & shimmering blue seas to your left & the boats bobbing, paragliders & paddle boarders to your right.
In the distance you will see Brownsea Island, home to the red squirrel & a wildlife sanctuary for many species, you could pop across for a visit & lunch at the National Trust Café or park up at Sandbanks and stroll along the promenade stopping at the café for lunch or picking up some sandwiches & take in the views across to Old Harry Rocks & the Isle of Wight.
Saturday Afternoon in the Purbecks
Your weekend in Dorset now sees you heading towards the Jurassic coast, and the spectacular Durdle Door Get your camera ready, as this is one of Dorset’s most photographed landmarks, view it from the cliff top or if you are feeling energetic take the steep descent down the cliff path to the shingle beach.
Go on to find Lulworth Cove which is reported to be the inspiration for one of Enid Blyton’s books. it has such a breathtaking vista it is no wonder she chose to use it in her books.
You must visit or drive past Corfe Castle, built in 1086 & now in ruins it is an iconic view not to be missed and gives stunning views of the Dorset countryside as far as the eye can see. Grab an ice cream in Corfe village & head off towards your destination for the night.
Saturday evening in Dorchester
By now you will be tired & hungry, so relax in your hotel in the heart of Dorset’s County town of Dorchester, Westwood House, a small 7-bedroom townhouse with a bright & airy conservatory.
Have a wander up the town and choose from a wide variety of local restaurants, bistros and cafes to have your evening meal, you will be spoilt for choice. Nothing beats and early night after a jam packed day of exploring so sleep tight ready for your last day of adventures.
Sunday morning in Lyme Regis
After a full English or buffet breakfast at the Westwood, you are off in search of a time gone by & my last suggestion for what to do on your weekend in Dorset.
Lyme Regis an ancient town featured in the Domesday Book, & home to a number of historical landmarks. A quintessential English seaside town nestled into the cliffs which are renowned for fossils, put your best Sherlock Holmes head on and go in search of your very own piece of Jurassic history.
Lyme Regis was the home of famed paleontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning so maybe you might find something she missed.
Not content with fossil hunting, seek out West Bay where Broadchurch was filmed, 2 beaches East & West beach dwarfed by 50ft sandstone cliffs with views towards Chesil beach (the setting for Ian McEwans 2007 novel “on Chesil Beach”) & Portland.
You will not be disappointed with the incredible scenery. Quench your thirst at one of the local cafes & maybe even indulge in a piece of cake & reflect on the beauty that is Dorset’s coastline, before you make your way home with some amazing memories and photos to share with your friends.