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Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Leeds, UK
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Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Hi all

We have decided to have a family trip to Dorset next summer - myself, my wife and 2 kids- eldest will be 2 and a half- the youngest 10 months. We would be looking at renting a cottage for the week

Now I have never been on holiday to Dorset before so wouldn't know where to start on where is good to stay

We don't want any of the big towns- Bournemouth, Poole etc but don't want to be too remote so ideally within walking distance of a shop/pub etc.

Also would want to be near the beach and the Jurassic Coast if possible

Now apologies if that seems a wide remit but any help gratefully received!!

I have looked at some cottages and one that seems to be OK is located in Portland- so any feedback on that as a place to stay?

Thanks as always


Manchester, UK
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1. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Portland wouldn't be my first choice as an area to stay in - it's quite untypical of Dorset, although interesting in a curious kind of way; almost semi-industrial in parts, with quarrying taking place in many places. Also, it's an isolated spot - there's only one way in and out, and it can take longer than you think to get to and from. My preference would be to look at the western part of the county - Bridport, which is a very appealing little market town, would be a good base; you are close to the coast, and in amongst some fine scenery. Lyme Regis is not far away to the west, and the stretch of coast in between, including Charmouth (fossil-hunting on the beach), Golden Cap, Seatown and Eype, is gorgeous. The classic chalk cliff stretch is further to the east, between Weymouth and Ballard Down, just beyond Swanage. Lulworth Cove would be an obvious base, but it does get very busy with day trippers.

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2. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?


The Purbecks is a lovely area to stay in. Swanage has some nice shops and a beach and at the end of July is Carnival week which is always very good. From Studland (nice beach, though be aware of the nudist part)you can get the chain ferry across to Sandbanks where Poole & Bmth is only a short drive. Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door (all part of the Jurassic coast are worth visiting. Personally wouldn't stay on Portland..there is nothing there. Weymouth has a harbour and a beach but not all that much to do. Purbeck is only about 18 miles away from Weymouth so you could spend the day there. Check out Dorset Cottages Website or the Purbeck District Council website...

Katonah, NY
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3. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Just returned form Dorset last week. CAn tell you that STudland BAy beach is BEAUTIFUL and that you would do well to be near it. Corfe CAstle not far, and your kids will think it's the coolest ruined castle ever. Don't even dream of staying on the Poole side, horrible! I am not sure what Knoll House is like, but it has direct access to the beach at Studland BAy. Check it out.

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4. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Hi! Dondo,

I'm not a Dorsetonian, as I've only lived in the county for 11 years, but I love the county so much and can definately recommend Weymouth for a family holiday.

Weymouth seafront has a lot to offer you if you have young children, There's a fantastic beach which is cleaned regularly and has a very shallow tideline which extends for quiet a way out into Weymouth Bay. Ideal for kids to paddle about in and you not to worry incase they get out of depth.

There is a childrens funfair with rides for the youngsters and from April to September there are all sorts of amusements on the beach like trampolines, peddalos (paddle boats you can hire)

Good old Punch and Judy pupeteers.

There are plenty of restaurants, pubs and places to eat and can thoroughly recommend Brewers Quay. I understand we are not allowed to solicit in anyway on these forums but I hope your allowed to suggest! The Sea Gull fish and Chip shop/restaurant, Perrys fish restaurant over looking the old town harbour.

They also have free fireworks during summer I think its either on a Tuesday or Thursday night.

All along the sea front there is a plethora of hotels, bed and breakfast and guest house establishments to choose from.

If the weather is raining (Oh! the great British Summer!) theres a huge multi screen cinima in town with a multi story carpark in the same complex.

There's also the Brewers Quay Museum with craft shops of every kind which is all under one roof.

Weymouth is an ideal location for visiting Portland, Thats where I lived for 8 years, Its not as industrial as the previous person wrote, but it is steeped in history. It has two castles, one completely in ruins and the other is one of King Henry V111 both of which can be visited.

You can also go onto the new sailing academy area down at Chiswell and see where the sailing olympics will be taking place in 2012.

Dorchester is an old market town about 5 miles inland from Weymouth and is well worth the visit.

They have a teddy bear museum, a dinosaur museum and much more for the kids to do and see.

Prince Charles has been the brain child behind a super village which has been springing up over the last eight years, its called Poundbury, Worth driving though just to say you've seen it but not much for the children to do.

The only downsides I can think of is that parking is expensive in Weymouth. Its also very limited. if you can find a hotel that has guest parking grab it with both hands as you will save a bomb! The sea front is about 2 miles long and has a land train that runs the length of it in the summer so walking with the children shouldnt be to bad.

If Trip Advisor allow you to reply personally I'm happy to send you some brochures and tourist information about the area. I own and run a guest house with my partner and am really enthusiastic about promoting the Jurrasic coast and all it has to offer.

Hope what ever you do, you enjoy and will go home telling everyone how Great Dorset is!!

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5. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Hi Dondo, we stayed at Charmouth last year and would highly recommend it for a real family holiday. Lyme Regis and Weymouth are also very pleasant to visit. The new beach at Lyme is also perfect for making sand castles now after the local council imported tons of sand!!

Hope you enjoy this little gem of an area.


Leeds, UK
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6. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Cheers everyone for all your tips- much appreciated and given us a good idea on where to focus when looking for where to base ourselves

7. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

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8. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

I personally think that SHERBORNE is an excellent destination. It's so close to many of the great places to visit not only in Dorset but also in Somerset (Glastonbury, etc) and Wiltshire (Stonehenge, Bath...)

We rented a holiday cottage right in the heart of Sherborne for a week and it was VERY reasonably priced which I was surprised at because Sherborne is such an attractive town so I would have thought demand to stay there is very high but in fact we got a much nicer place and for a much better price than alternatives we'd looked at such as coastal towns or other historic towns like Shaftesbury or Corfe Castle.

Staying in Sherborne meant we could go to all of those places (sometimes we even went by train as well because the connections are very good and it's kind of a nice way to see the scenery - particularly the journey to Salisbury!) but also when we didn't feel like going too far afield there was lots to see and do in Sherborne itself.

Hope this helps!

Cheltenham, United...
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9. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

I have been driving for 30 years. I'e only been ticketed twice. Both in Weymouth.

Parking is difficult and expensive.

Pick one of the villages near the jurassic coast (mostly sahingle beach), or "better still" the beaches at Studland (for the kids). Poole & Bournemouth are "just a ferry trip" 2-3 miles away

Somerset, UK
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10. Re: Planning on staying in Dorset but where?

Sherborne is a lovely town but may not be the best for a young family. Weymouth is a lovely, traditional English seaside town which has avoided that rundown appearance of many seaside resorts. There is lots to do there, as well. There is a problem with cars, traffic and parking but you could go by train as the station is almost on the seafront in the centre of town

Lyme Regis is my favourite - charming and lively at the same time and again good for families.

Charmouth is nice too.

For an alternative suggestions how about Chideock. There is a beach about half a mile away at Seatown (not Seaton) and you would be well situated for both Weymouth and Lyme Regis and there is lots of nice countyside around. The kids would also like the Swannery at Abbotsbury. And it's right on the Jurassic Coast!