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You are here: Explore the Area

Exploring the area

Explore the Area

Explore beyond Bournemouth and discover beautiful countryside and picturesque villages steeped in history and just waiting to be discovered. Whether you venture north, east or west of Bournemouth, you'll be sure to find something to delight you.

Dorset and the surrounding area offers natural beauty providing some of the most stunning scenery in the country. Home to rolling hills, rugged coastline, lush forest and of course, mile after mile of fantastic golden sandy beaches, the county is easily accessible, and is tailor made for exploring by car, foot or bike. Here are a few places to get you started.

The seaport town of Poole is home to the second largest natural harbour in the world. The historic Quay area offers many types of boat trips along this magnificent stretch of coastline and don’t forget to hop over to Brownsea Island, a wonderful nature reserve owned by the National Trust.

The ancient New Forest, created as the hunting ground of William the Conqueror, is ideal for the cyclist, walker or horse rider. Ponies, donkeys and cattle all roam freely through the Forest’s picturesque villages, like Burley and Brockenhurst.

Wimborne is a quaint market town with a lovely Square and the beautiful 12th century Wimborne Minster. The town has a very lively three-day folk festival in early June.

Weymouth, located to the west of Dorset, is a busy harbour town, with Fleet Lagoon nature reserve located nearby. The town will host the sailing events for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is a stunning World Heritage site, recording 185 million years of history in its rugged cliffs. Take in Durleston Head, Dancing Ledge, Lulworth Cove and don’t miss Durdle Doors’ famous rock archway. A camera is a must!

The small village of Studland on the Isle of Purbeck is known for its National Trust beach and nature reserve, which is home to all six types of British reptile. Studland Bay, protected by Old Harry Rocks, has great views of the Isle of Wight and Studland itself served as Enid Blyton’s inspiration for Toytown in the classic Noddy books.

Just inside the Wiltshire border to the north is Salisbury, whose cathedral has the tallest spire in the UK. The cathedral also has the best preserved copy of the original Magna Carta. Steeped in legend and folklore, the Salisbury area also boasts one of Britain’s best historic sites - Stonehenge.

Corfe Castle is an iconic survivor of the English Civil War, with over 1,000 years of history packed in its dramatic ruins. Perched on a hill, the castle site has great panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, overlooking the delightful village.

In the most easterly borough of Dorset is Christchurch, whose harbour is the meeting point for the rivers Avon and Stour. The impressive Priory which gives the town its name, dates from the 11th century, while the ruins of Christchurch Castle pre-date the Norman Conquest. The art deco Regent Centre stages plays and films and the town holds a weekly market.

Other things to consider are hopping on a ferry to the Isle of Wight and discovering why it is a designated Area of Natural Beauty, walking 18 miles in the shingle of Chesil Beach, from Portland to West Bay, visiting T. E. Lawrence’s (Lawrence of Arabia) cottage Clouds Hill, Wareham, and going to Shaftesbury and seeing Gold Hill, the steep, cobbled street from the memorable Hovis advert.

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