Medieval castles, a staggeringly beautiful coastline, quirky museums and award-winning restaurants, there are many excellent reasons to visit Dorset. Whether you’re a bon gourmand looking to sample local culinary delights, a history buff or a young family that likes to keep active, Thomas Hardy’s beloved Wessex is a great choice for a short break. For guests staying at The Acorn Inn and Summer Lodge, this two-day itinerary promises a whistle-stop tour of the county’s top attractions.
After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, jump in the car and make a beeline for Corfe Castle, one of Dorset’s most famous monuments. Built by William the Conqueror over 1,000 years ago, the history embedded within these ruins is palpable, and the views afforded by such a prime vantage point are certainly photo-worthy. Children will appreciate the model village, which shows what the Castle would have looked like before it was partly destroyed during the English Civil War.
Then next stop is Lulworth Castle. Built as a hunting lodge in the 17th century, the estate has been presided over by the Weld family for centuries. Take a stroll around the vast deer park, climb the tower steps for fantastic views of the surrounding countryside and Jurassic coast, or settle in at the Tearoom for elevenses.
From here, it’s just a short drive to some of England’s loveliest beaches. Ask the hotel to pack you a picnic and enjoy an al fresco lunch at Lulworth Cove, famous for its stunning white pebble beach and bright blue waters. Take a quick, post-prandial walk along the coast path to Durdle Door, a spectacular, naturally occurring limestone arch and famous geographical wonder.
Fans of T.E. Lawrence should also stop at nearby Clouds Hill, the atmospheric cottage where ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ spent much of his life. The cottage is now a museum that’s open to the public and, as its kept largely as Lawrence left it, it offers a fascinating insight into this iconic yet illusive writer and military hero.
Just over 30 minutes away by car, return to the hotel in the early afternoon and relax with a traditional afternoon tea, which includes freshly baked scones served with Dorset clotted cream and local strawberry jam. Then unwind with a visit to Summer Lodge’s Spa which has its own pool and Jacuzzi and offers a tempting range of face and body treatments using products from prestigious French beauty brand Darphin.
Come dinnertime, book a table at The Acorn Inn, known and loved for its inviting, relaxed atmosphere and comforting menu which includes dishes like twice baked crab and Cornish Yarg soufflé.
Spend the morning wandering through the nearby town of Sherborne. The town is well-known for its medieval architecture and 1,300-year-old abbey, which is the resting place of not one but two Saxon kings. Pick up a few souvenirs on Cheap Street, home to an assortment of galleries, boutiques and delis.
Younger visitors will not want to miss Dorchester’s Teddy Bear Museum, just a 20-minute drive from The Acorn Inn and Summer Lodge. Expect a short history of the teddy bear, from antique treasures to current favourites. Children will be spoilt for choice in the museum’s Teddy Bear Shop, which offers 100s of different kinds of bears to take home.
After a morning in Dorchester, drive 20 minutes toward the coast and you’ll arrive at the famous Chesil Beach. Less a beach and more an 18-mile shingle spit, it’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location for Ian McEwan’s acclaimed novel, On Chesil Beach. Enjoy a walk along this extraordinary landscape followed by a hot chocolate at the nearby Hive Beach Café.
Back at the hotel, enjoy the fine dining elegance of Summer Lodge’s restaurant, which serves English food with a European accent using many ingredients grown in the hotel’s own garden. Here, standout dishes include the roast loin of Dorset Lamb and braised shoulder ‘shepherd’s pie’.
Has a fabulous weekend away in Dorset left you longing to see more of the British Isles? Visit our partners Evan Evans for more information on UK tours.
Image Credits: Lead image © iStock/JulieanneBirch. Corfe Castle © iStock/Blackbeck. Durdle Door © iStock/xrrr. Afternoon Tea at Summer Lodge © Red Carnation Hotels. Sherborne Abbey © iStock/RMAX.Hive Beach Cafe © Hive Beach Cafe. Summer Lodge Restaurant © Red Carnation Hotels.