Dorset is a county of famous landmarks, chalky cliff-tops and Iron Age forts. Located away from the county’s well-trodden tourist haunts, however, are plenty of untouchedbays, charming villages and places only frequented by those in the know. Discover a different side to Dorset, away from the madding crowds, at the region's most secret spots. Guests staying at either The Acorn Inn or our Summer Lodge Country House Hotel & Spa will be ideally placed to discover the best bits of hidden Dorset.
Take a walk on Dorset’s wild side and travel to the rough-cut coves that wrap around the remote isle of Purbeck. Chapman’s Pool can be reached via a short boat trip or the coastal footpath beginning in the nearby village of Worth Matravers. Exploring its steep and rocky shores is an exhilarating experience. Refuel at the characterfulSquare and Compass pub afterwards, another of the region’s most secret spots.
Thomas Hardy’s House
Find the gorgeous, thatched cottage near Dorchester in which English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy grew up. Many of his works are set in the county of Dorset—it’s easy to see where he drew his inspiration from when you visit this quaint abode, tucked between wildflowers and rolling hills. Follow in the footsteps of Hardy’s grandmother, Betty Swetman, and uncover some of the herbal medicines that the Victorians relied upon with a picturesque walking trail, starting from his backyard.
Lyme Regis Museum
Appropriately described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘a gem’, this charmingmuseum stands on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, in the centre of pebble-strung Lyme Regis. Comb for ancient artefacts inside famous palaeontologist Mary Anning’s 1826 childhood home. Lyme Regis Museum’s geographical galleries showcase an incredible array of sealife skeletons and relics that were discovered locally.
Shaftesbury Farmer’s Market
Founded by the Saxons centuries ago, Shaftesbury was once the button-making capital of England, and a main coaching stop on route to the West Country. The freshest wares in the town today can be scouted at its farmers’ market on the first Saturday of every month, which takes place inside the Town Hall. The ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey and medieval St. Peter’s church next door are also impressive sights, in case you need to build up an appetite for handmade breads, pastries and cheeses.
Arne Nature Reserve
Pastoral village Arne and its expansive RSPBNature Reservemight lie off the Dorset tourist track, but this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has more than enough wildlife and rustic woodland for a day’s adventure. Walk through dramatic open heathland that’s populated with butterflies and dragonflies while House Sparrows and Goldfinches soar above you. Get lost in hidden Dorset’s silver birch trees and claim a secret spot of your own.
For the perfect grown-ups only outing, sample over 30 craft ales in this specialist brewery and explore a historic market town. Ringwood is located on England’s River Avon, the waters of which have been used to brew beer since medieval times. Aguided touror tasting session at this unique brewery guarantees smiles all round, rain or shine.
Create your own hidden Dorset at Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa’s Romantic Hideaway.
Image Credits: Lead image © iStock/eimvilla. Chapman's Pool © iStock/Khrizmo. Lyme Regis © iStock/Mike_Boyland. Arne Woods © iStock/Chris D'Agorne. Bridge at Ringwood © iStock/stevegeer.