Great places for a day out in Dorset this summer
- Credit: Archant
Summer is one of the best times to explore the county. We asked Visit Dorset to share some of their favourite places for a great Dorset day out, whatever your age
Explore the glorious Dorset countryside by following one of the many walking trails which criss-cross the county. The South West Coast Path has just launched some new themed walks taking in West Dorset’s ‘Timeless Coast’, from navigating the Undercliff ‘jungle’ at Lyme Regis to exploring the fossil flecked beaches at Charmouth. Download the routes at visit-dorset.com.
Pillars of History
For fans of history and culture a visit to admire the splendid fan-vaulted ceiling of the county’s ‘cathedral’ Sherborne Abbey is a must. Afterwards, explore this delightful West Dorset town which was once the capital of Wessex. Equally awe-inspiring would be a climb to the top of Christchurch Priory in East Dorset for panoramic views across Christchurch Harbour. The Priory is the longest church in England and one of the few to survive Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.
Fun in the Forest
Swing through the trees at Go Ape! - situated at the award-winning Moors Valley Country Park & Forest in East Dorset. If you prefer terra-firma you can hire bikes there or experience the fun of a Segway ride around the forest tracks. You can also set out on foot or take a ride on an authentic narrow-gauge steam train. Top tip: Youngsters will love the Gruffalo Spotters Trail! moors-valley.co.uk.
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If your little ones are fascinated by animals, a firm favourite with families is Farmer Palmers Farm Park at Organford near Poole. Winner of the Primary Times overall winner four years running, this family farm has plentiful indoor and outdoor activities, whatever the weather. There are entertaining, educational shows and plenty of chances to meet the animals. More at farmerpalmers.co.uk.
Admire Ancient Views
Clamber up to the top of one of the many prehistoric hill forts in Dorset such as Hambledon Hill near Blandford Forum or Eggardon Hill near Bridport. Your efforts will be rewarded with some of the best views across the county – and there’s always a picnic stop or a local pub nearby in which to recover!
The county’s mild climate means there are some stunning gardens which flourish in Dorset. Athelhampton House near Dorchester is famous for its topiary; Minterne near Cerne Abbas has a wonderful collection of Himalayan rhododendrons and azaleas, Sherborne Castle has a glorious Capability Brown lakeside setting, and Kingston Lacy near Wimborne is renowned for its 7-acre Japanese Garden. See our Top Ten Dorset Gardens at visit-dorset.com.
Dorset is home to England’s only natural World Heritage Site - the Jurassic Coast. The best way to see this remarkable coastline, which covers 185 million years of geological history, is from the sea on a guided boat trip. Why not combine land and sea with City Cruises’ popular Sea Train Adventure? This involves a cruise from Poole to Swanage, where you step aboard the Swanage Railway and chuff past Corfe Castle in a steam train. More at citycruisespoole.com.