The County of Dorset can be found in the South West of England, on the southern coast of the English Channel. Dorchester, remains the County town, though the seaside resorts of Weymouth, Swanage, Pool and Bournemouth are the main holiday destinations, for the area of Dorset, the guide aims to provide you, the reader, with a wealth of knowledge, about the South Westerly County of Dorset covering everything from local events to quaint holiday cottages.
The majority of the Dorset coastline, was designated a World Heritage Site in 2001, due to its geological landforms. The jurassic coast documents the entire Mesozoic era, from Triassic to Cretaceous, and has yielded many important fossils, including the first complete Ichthyosaur and fossilised Jurassic trees. Fossil hunters of all ages, can head for Seatown, which can be reached by following a narrow shore road, just opposite the Castle Inn in chideock. There is a small car park at Seatown, though beware of the incoming tides, During scouring tides, fossils such as ammonites, can be found on the beach, all year round. Charmouth is one of the most famous locations, for collecting fossils in the world, ammonites, reptiles, fish and belemnites can be collected along the foreshore, while Lyme Regis, provides plenty of fossil shops, museums and guided walks.
Dorset is famous for the natural landforms, such as the shell shaped beach of Lulworth Cove and the Durdle Door Arch, which was the setting for part of the Nanny Macfee film. The award winning heritage coast, begins at Poole Harbour ,the largest natural harbour in the world, and Brownsea Island which is within the area, the purbeck coastline, and its nature reserves travelling West to the Chesil Beach which stretches from Portland and beyond West Bay near Bridport. The fleet lagoon, is protected from the elements, by the great wall of pebbles of Chesil bank, which a very popular beach casting location. The bouncing bomb, was tested within the fleet lagoon area, and relates to the film “The Dambusters”.
Dorset in Literature
Dorset, is the principal setting of the novels of Thomas Hardy, who was born at Bockhampton near Dorchester, you can visit Hardys cottage, which now belongs to the National Trust, or view many of his belongings, at the Dorchester County Museum.. Dorset county has a long history of human settlement, and some notable archaeology, including the hill forts of Maiden Castle just outside Dorchester, and Hod Hill, which is a large hill fort, in the Blackmore Vale, 3 miles north west of Blandford Forum.
The climate of Dorset, has warm summers and mild winters, being the third most southern county in the UK, but not westerly enough to be afflicted by the Atlantic storms, that Cornwall and Devon experience. Dorset shares the greater winter warmth of the south west coast, while still maintaining higher summer temperatures, than that of Devon and Cornwall. In coastal areas, around Dorset, it almost never snows!
The County of Dorset, is rich is archaeology and history, from fossils to roman houses, a range of castles, including corfe castle, to the famous Gloucestershire hotel on the Weymouth Seafront, where the Royals stayed, and made seaside bathing what it is today! View the Gigantotomy, Hill Fiqure, of the Cerne giant, at Cerne abbas, one of only two left in the UK, or the chalk hill figure, of the Osmington White Horse, between Osmington and the village of Sutton Pontz. Why not take a drive, around the myterious Moonfleet village, with its tales of pirates and smuggling!
Dorset in the Summer
During the summer months, Dorset attracts thousands of visitors, to its Carnvials, Festivals and Regattas and especially now, to Weymouth and Portland, which will host the 2012 Olympics Sailing Events, from Portland harbour and Weymouth bay. The construction of the site, is now completed, though building works continue on Portland, improving the facilities, for water sports and property developement. Within walking distance of the event venue, you can visit Portland Castle, or cross the main road onto the Chesil Bank. On the opposite side of the harbour, to the venue, lies the ruins of Sandsfoot Castle and gardens, also nearby is the Nothe Fort and Gardens that overlooks Weymouth Harbour, and the harboured Condor Ferries.
The Smugglers Inn, at Osmington Mills, boasts an excellent view over Weymouth Bay, and tales of Dorset smuggling, from this inn can still be heard of, Ringstead it is only a short drive away from the ocal town of Weymouth , and the area itself is peaceful and quiet, ideal for a quieter holiday with its safe beach. Moving further along the coast heading West, you will find Tyneham, the village of memories, now a ghostly quiet unpopulated village, taken by the army, to benefit the nation in war time. Its school still has the names of the children, on the coat pegs, and slates on the desks! Parts of the village, has been restored to allow visitors to enter the remains of the buildings, and view information and photographs of the families who once lived there.
The church is now a museum, and the public telephone no longer rings! Its a must visit for historians, and those interested in days gone by. Amply parking, public toilets, but no shops or trade stands available! It is only open when permitted at weekends and holidays due to the firing ranges still being in use!
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