The county of Dorset, set in south-west England, boasts a warm climate and a beautiful, interesting and diverse landscape. The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers 44 per cent of the county, with a landscape of ridges and valleys, through to chalk ridges and limestone plateau, to coastal sandy heaths and flats. Primarily a rural county, there are lots of charming towns and pretty villages to explore. The county town is Dorchester, and Bournemouth with its miles of glorious beaches, shops, restaurants, nightlife and first-class accommodation is a must; alongside Poole, which is a vibrant seaside resort with Europe’s largest natural harbour. Weymouth is also a popular and bustling seaside town, as are Lyme Regis and Swanage. Bridport is a delightful market town a short distance inland from West Bay.
Dorset has an English Channel coast, of which three quarters is the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site. This stretch of coastline reveals 185 million years of natural history sequentially exposed in dramatic cliffs, secluded caves, coastal stacks and barrier beaches. Lulworth Cove, close to Durdle Door rock arch, is a popular attraction. The coast is home to the famous South-West Coastal Path which starts at Poole Harbour.
Dorset boasts a wealth of nature and wildlife areas, castles and historical buildings, gardens, museums, such as the Bournemouth Aviation Museum and the Lyme Regis Philpot Museum; theatres and festivals and is host to the Great Dorset Steam Fair, a large event showcasing national industrial and agricultural heritage, set over a huge 600 acres in the village of Tarrant Hinton.
Dorset was the birthplace of the author Thomas Hardy who used the county as the main setting for many of his novels. You can visit his cottage next to Thorncombe Woods where he wrote Far from The Madding Crowd. An extensive collection of the work of William Barnes whose poetry reflects the ancient Dorset dialect can be found at the County Museum in Dorchester.