Focus on Devon and Dorset
Published: Tuesday 6th Mar 2018
A magical land of history and mystery, Dorset and Devon’s prehistoric coastlines are home to secret coves and quiet seaside villages. While heritage cities and captivating National Parks can be found further inland.
Visit the south and discover its unique beauty with Original Cottages.
The Pearl of Dorset
Moody blue cliffs block out the skyline behind the traditional seaside resort of Lyme Regis, giving the area its special air of wonder and mystique. While its historic harbour - the Cobb - unique beachfront, and very own dinosaur museum, mean it’s the perfect place to bring any adventurous little nippers to explore. Filled with quirky shops and traditional tea rooms, the back lanes and alleyways wind their way through the picturesque town centre and offer a surprise at every corner. An ancient settlement steeped in history, Lyme Regis is chronicled in the 1086 Domesday Book and is home to a host of historical artefacts and landmarks, as well as just being pleasing to the eye. Birthplace of Mary Anning and the backdrop to classic novels like Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman, it’s a true UK Heritage spot.
Closeby, Charmouth is chock-full of charm. A pretty seaside village just three miles away from from Lyme Regis, it’s a well-known spot for finding fossils. Book a beach tour for the whole family with the Heritage Centre and set off on your own hunt for some prehistoric remains.
Bridport and West Bay
Famous for its Jurassic coastline and quintessential English countryside, West Dorset is the hidden gem of the south coast. Welcoming market towns like Bridport and West Bay dot its rolling landscapes and offer peaceful pit stops, with interesting cafes and local restaurants to enjoy. Located in the centre of the coastline, between Lyme Regis and Weymouth, these two busy harbour towns have been made famous in recent years by the TV series ‘Broadchurch’. Discover a world of magnificent sandstone cliffs and idyllic subtropical sandy beaches at one of Dorset’s most treasured holiday destinations.
Weymouth and Portland
There’s a reason Weymouth retains its spot as a top 10 UK holiday destination year after year. Local charm and an eclectic mix of tourist attractions, like the famous Punch and Judy puppet show and Sea Life Centre, capture the hearts of each new wave of visitors. While its award-winning beach, beautiful harbour and countless countryside bike trails and walking routes, offer a fresh air fix for lovers of the great outdoors.
Cross over the causeway from Weymouth to Portland, where an abundance of unique wildlife can be found. Home of the 2012 Olympic sailing academy, discover a heart-racing variety of water sporting activities, from kayaking to paddleboarding. With evidence of its heritage past still in tact, head a little further afield and discover old pirate coves, castle ruins and the world famous Portland Bill Lighthouse.
One of the main attractions of the south coast, the popular beaches and seaside resorts of Devon and Dorset boast some of the prettiest, unspoilt stretches of coastline across the UK. But what about those lesser-known locations, known only to the locals?
The island controlled by tides
Bigbury Bay is located within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is arguably one of South Devon’s most stunning stretches of coastline. Brushed with soft, white sands and serene shallows, it’s the perfect day out for any family. Make your way over to Burgh Island during low tide, where the waters part, revealing an accessible strip of sand to cross over.
The land of time
Kimmeridge Bay, aside from being one of the most important areas of the entire Jurassic Coast, is also one of its most beautiful. Clifftop paths offer stunning views of the deep blue, while its shallow rock pools are famous for fossil hunting. During colder months, choppy winds, wild skies and crashing waves make this magical place even more dramatic.
A gateway town to the Jurassic Coast, sheltered coves like Studland Bay are the ideal location for watersports such as windsurfing, sailing, kayaking, kite surfing and diving. While its soft blanket of sand and seaside cafe set the perfect scene for carefree days by the sea.
Countless concealed coves, wild waters and secret sandy inlets await you.
Things to do
Dartmoor & Exmoor
The county of two coasts has a lot to offer. Within its midst, two National Parks sit on opposite ends of its borders. To the south, the ancient lands of Dartmoor include deep cut valleys, fast flowing rivers and fascinating granite tors. While Exmoor’s heather-topped moorlands to the north are home to grazing, wild, red deer and Exmoor ponies. Discover dramatic cliff top views and mysterious woodland trails in a landscape shaped by nature over thousands of years. Squeezed in between the wooded glades and rocky waterfalls of Exmoor and the wild waves of Devon’s north coast, you’ll find Lynton – the perfect place for a balanced life of raw exploration and carefree living.
An all-time tourist favourite, a holiday in Dorset isn’t complete without a trip to Monkey World in Wareham. Visit the rescued apes in their happy new home and let your little monkeys run riot in the amazing adventure playground, where giant climbing frames, rope bridges and wooden forts mimic the incredible ape enclosures. Treat yourself to a cuddly toy or some other monkey merchandise at the end of the day in the souvenir shop – all money goes towards helping to rescue these beautiful creatures from all over the world. Bringing them somewhere safe, where they can live out their days in peace with new friends and people who genuinely care for them, so it’s all for a good cause.
Sublime, soft golden sands, azure skies and subtropical palm trees, as well as fantastic seaside attractions, greet visitors to the English Riviera. From Paignton to Torquay, feel a world away in Devon.
Durlston Country Park
Just a mile outside the popular tourist destination of Swanage, Durlston Country Park is a magnificent, 280 acre, countryside paradise and National Nature Reserve. Spend a day exploring the rugged woodlands, scenic meadows and stunning sea cliff coastal paths, as well as the historic Great Globe itself.
Places to eat
With so much to see and do, chances are you’ll need to refuel. There are so many wonderful places to eat and drink in Devon and Dorset. Enjoy a wood-fired pizza at the Watch House café in West Bay, right by the beach. Or indulge in a seafood feast at one of the hundreds of fresh-catch restaurants that you’ll find spanning the coast. One of our truly local favourites is The Cabin in Swanage, an atmospheric seaside joint with outdoor decking that overlooks the bay. Shoals Cafe On The Lido in Brixham also offers a similar experience. Head there for an evening meal on the terrace, where a melange of magical colours swirl through the skies as the sun sets on the horizon.
If you want to keep it simple, there are plenty of scenic spots for you to perch harbourside with a hot portion of fish and chips, ice cold lollipop or traditional cream tea, as you watch the fishing boats and hired yachts quietly go about their daily business.
A magical UK holiday
Whether you’re revisiting much-loved old haunts or heading to the South coast for the very first time, escape to Devon or Dorset with Original Cottages for a truly memorable stay.