Stepping into Dorset's history
Dorset’s historic landscape takes you on a journey through time, littered with picturesque points of interests, remarkable relics, and enthralling echoes of the past. We’ve rounded up a list of our favourite historic haunts, which we think are worth a visit on your next holiday.
St Catherine’s Chapel in Abbotsbury
With breath-taking views along the famous Chesil Beach down to Portland Island and west across Lyme Bay, the historic St. Catherine’s Chapel is a dramatic landmark to visit. Park up in the charming village of Abbotsbury, and take a walk past the old abbey, through the pretty lanes. We recommend dropping into The Ilchester Arms for some of the most delicious pub grub around. A short, steep climb will take you up to the 14th century chapel – open in peak season and free to enter – and will give you stunning views of the Fleet and coast.
Cerne Abbas Giant
The Cerne Abbas Giant is one of the oldest chalk figures in the country and is an iconic Dorset landmark. It’s thought to have been created between 700-1110BC, so is a true piece of English history and well worth a visit. Park up at the viewing point (handily signposted) for the best view of the Giant. The circular route through the woodlands and pretty village will take you past a few tempting pubs – we recommend the New Inn for a delicious fish and chip sandwich; muddy paws and boots are always welcome. Wander past the church and through the old abbey, where you will find the crystal-clear waters of St Augustine’s Well and learn about the myth and mystery surrounding it.
Sandsfoot Castle and Nothe Fort, Weymouth
Built by King Henry VIII in 1539 to protect his kingdom from invasion and used by both parliament and royalists in the Civil War, Sandsfoot Castle stands proudly overlooking Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay. Tudor gardens were built around the old artillery fort almost 100 years ago and are the perfect place for a summer picnic, as you watch the sailing boats and windsurfers take the waves. Pick up a free guide from the café and enjoy wandering the ruins and admiring the view towards Portland Island. Take a walk or cycle the Rodwell Trail into Weymouth itself and visit the historic Nothe Fort, perched on the edge of the harbour. With a maze of underground tunnels, parade ground, cannons, museum and regular events, the award-winning attraction will take you back in time for an interesting look at the area’s military history.
If you have visited Burnbake before, you will no doubt have passed the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle, towering over our local village. The 1,000-year-old Saxon stronghold was designed as an impressive castle home for King Henry I from gleaming Purbeck limestone and has since been the setting for many battles, mysteries and plots, serving as a home, a prison, a battleground and a regal holiday home. Walk or cycle from Burnbake, then take this dog-friendly walking route if you’re after a nice stroll, or head straight into the National Trust-owned ruins and take the audio trail to find out all about the fascinating history of the castle.
The Cobb, Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis’ historic Cobb is an iconic harbour dating back to the 13th century and was once a major English port. More recently, it has become the setting of films such as French Lieutenant’s Woman, Ammonite, Wonka and The Boat That Rocked. It is also frequently named amongst the most romantic places to visit in the county, and for good reason. The historic Cobb is not only rich in history but provides stunning views around Lyme Bay, with especially beautiful sunsets in the winter months. It is a hub of activity in the summer months, with locals and tourists alike enjoying crabbing from the harbour walls, swimming, diving, and taking in the spectacular views. The Cobb has retained its historic features throughout the years, including the ‘Gin Shop’, customs lists and ‘Granny’s Teeth’.
Book your Burnbake getaway now, for the perfect base to explore this beautiful and historic county.