This week’s travel post takes us to the lovely and idyllic Dorset.
The county of Dorset is found in Southern England bordering the four counties of Somerset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire. It’s known for the Jurassic Coast, a long stretch on the English Channel where the cliffs contain many fossils, and rock formations show millions of years of geological history. Two prominent natural landmarks are Durdle Door, an ancient stone arch, and the layered cliffs at nearby Lulworth Cove. The towns of Poole, Weymouth and Swanage are popular for their sandy beaches.
Human settlements in Dorset are thought to have started around 12,500 BC when Britain was still attached to Europe. The population grew rapidly during the Neolithic Era as a wave of immigrant farmers headed to Dorset. Romans first landed in Dorset at Poole Harbour before moving inland, taking Abbotsbury Castle and other forts across Dorset. Dorchester, the county town of Dorset, has many notable Roman artefacts there today. Dorset was the home of the author and poet Thomas Hardy, famous for his novels such as ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ and ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge.’ Casterbridge is based on Dorchester. Hardy’s home is close to the town and is open to visitors.
Many of today’s settlements were there during the Saxon times according to The Domesday Book. During this time Dorset’s population grew and much more land was dedicated to farming to deal with the increased demand for food. The 18th century brought smuggling to the Dorset coastline with the coves and caves ideal for the smugglers’ activities.
Several of the harbours along the Dorset coast were used as launching grounds for the D-Day landings. Bournemouth and Christchurch were part of Hampshire until 1974 when the political boundaries were changed.
The top three things to do/see in Dorset:
Take a Hike to the Golden Cap
The Golden Cap is a hill and cliff situated on the English Channel coast between Bridport and Charmouth. At 191 metres, it is the highest point on the south coast of Great Britain and is visible for tens of miles along the coastline and offers spectacular views.
Enjoy the Iconic scenery of Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove
Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most photographed and iconic landmarks. It is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and is an extremely popular beauty spot.
Access to the pebble and shingle beach is on foot via a path and steps over the hill from Lulworth Cove or down from the car park.
Visit the beautiful and quaint seaside town of Lyme Regis
Home to famous Georgian fossil collector and palaeontologist Mary Anning, Lyme Regis is well known as one the best places on the Jurassic Coast to hunt for fossils.
This quaint and stylish seaside town is also gaining a reputation as a foodie’s paradise with numerous seafood bars, bistros and restaurants to choose from. A trip to Lyme Regis wouldn’t be complete without a stroll around the iconic Cobb harbour. On a clear day and you will be rewarded with some of the finest views along the coast. Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons brought fame to the area in the 1980 film adaptation of The French Lieutenant’s Woman – local author John Fowles wrote the original novel and Streep was featured standing motionless at the end of the Cobb. Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion, was also written and part set here.
3 Traditional Dorset Dishes To Tantalise Your Tastebuds:
Dorset Blue Vinney
Dorset Blue Vinney has quite a history and became extinct for a short while before Woodbridge Farm in Dorset started to make it again in the 1980s. It has been awarded Protected Geographical Status, ensuring only cheese originating from Dorset may use the name. It’s a firm white crumbly cheese you may wish to team up with a Dorset Knob.
A crispy, roll-shaped, dry savoury biscuit that you can try with chutneys and cheese alike. It’s also great if you dip it in a soup or simply spread with butter. It is now baked by a single producer for a limited time of the year. The Dorset knob has become so sacred to the region there is even a “Dorset knob throwing festival” including knob eating, painting competitions and other races.
Dorset Apple Cake
No visit to Dorset is complete without trying a delicious Dorset apple cake. There are many variations of the recipe, but most of them include cinnamon and you guess it… apples! You will find delicious apple cakes on the menu in almost every tearoom dotted around the county. Clotted cream is a necessary addition to your slice (or two!)
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