The Marshwood Vale & West Dorset - A view from our expert author

Sunrise over Lyme Regis Dorset England UK by stunnedmullet Shutterstock
Lyme Regis is one of Dorset's most popular coastal towns © stunnedmullet, Shutterstock

Lyme, as it is often known, is a popular holiday destination for its quaint buildings, sheltered beach and fossil hunting.

West Dorset is endowed with one of the most enticing sections of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The Jurassic Coast stretches 95 miles from east Devon along the Dorset coastline to Old Harry Rocks in the Isle of Purbeck and records 185 million years of the earth’s history. At its heart, just inside the Dorset border, lies the supremely characterful resort of Lyme Regis. Lyme, as it is often known, is a popular holiday destination for its quaint buildings, sheltered beach and fossil hunting. From here you’ll find a choice of excellent walks, notably a particularly beautiful stretch of the South West Coast Path which incorporates Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast.

The market town of Bridport has a rich food culture and its myriad food and drink producers, farm shops and restaurants are showcased each June during the annual Bridport Food Festival. Bridport’s harbour, West Bay, marks the start of Chesil Beach, a shingle bank which stretches 18 miles east to Portland and protects a natural lagoon known as The Fleet. The coastline between West Bexington and Abbotsbury has a rugged, untouched appeal. A journey inland through the beguiling Bride Valley is equally rewarding.

Jurassic Coast cliffs Dorset England UK by Steve Heap Shutterstock The Jurassic Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site © Steve Heap, Shutterstock

As you travel inland between Lyme Regis and Bridport the roads turn quickly to narrow lanes winding through farmland dotted with hamlets and villages – this is the picturesque Marshwood Vale. For exhilarating views over the vale and towards the coast, you can’t beat a walk up Pilsdon Pen or Lewesdon Hill, the two highest points in Dorset.

The Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Kingcombe Centre has the best-preserved lowland meadow in southern England. The centre offers courses and activities, such as beekeeping and foraging, or you can simply enjoy seeing the countryside as it would have looked years ago.

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