Dorset’s academic roll call reads like a who’s who of English literature, having inspired everyone from Thomas Hardy to Enid Blyton. Lately though, visitors have been flocking to the shores of the West Country for a different reason. Local resident and wordsmith Chris Chibnall has captured the imposing cliffs of the Jurassic Coast in his contemporary whodunit drama, Broadchurch. For those looking to explore the key filming location of West Bay, Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and The Acorn Inn provide the perfect base camp. Get behind the scenes with our guide to Broadchurch in Dorset.
Start your Broadchurch pilgrimage in the historic market town of Bridport (just outside of West Bay), the backdrop to DS Ellie Miller’s home in series two. With its art deco buildings and bohemian boutiques, chances are you’ll be leaving with your bags a little heavier by the end of your trip.
West Bay sits at the western end of Chesil Beach – the dramatic setting for the scene of the crime and commonly known as the Golden Gateway to the Jurassic Coast. Set in the midst of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is a must-visit for any Broadchurch fan. The vast stretches of shingle here offer up wonderful walks, while budding paleontologists will find plenty of fossils to unearth.
If 150 million-year-old fossils aren’t your thing, then dig up your walking boots and opt for a refreshing amble instead. The 10-mile coastal climb from Lyme Regis to West Bay is certainly not for the faint hearted, but you are rewarded with views from the summit of the Golden Gap that will (quite literally) take your breath away. Visit the pretty seaside village of Charmouth en route, which you might recognise from some of the Broadchurch beach scenes.
If all that walking has got your stomach grumbling, stop off in West Bay for some fresh seafood. For authentic seaside fare served up with some familiar Broachchurch harbour views, try Rachel’s down at the quayside. Crab, scallops, haddock and everything in-between is plucked straight from the sea and served from a shack little larger than the average garden shed.
If you fancy washing Rachel’s famous fish stew down with a few pints, traditional British pub, The George also offers magnificent coastal vistas, as well as a wonderful Sunday carvery.
Fondly dubbed “Broadchurch Café” for its frequent cameo appearances, Ellipse Bistro & Bar also serves its Italian cuisine with a side of Dorset scenery, while those after something a little more upscale should make the short journey to Lyme Regis for delicious seafood dishes at Hix Oyster & Fish House.
Thorncombe Beacon in Eype, located between Bridport and Charmouth, is also worth a visit, if only for a glimpse of the charming blue beach house that DI Hardy occupies for much of Broadchurch’s first and second series.
For fans of the show, visiting West Bay and the surrounding area is the best way to experience Chris Chibnall’s love letter to this stunning corner of the country, and to discover the delights of Broadchurch in Dorset, from the other side of the camera.
Header image: © Andrew Turner/flickr