I love a good research project. Now that there are four of us, we have decided to go on UK holidays until our toddler is not such a terror older. So I spent 2-3 hours a day for two weeks, a bit obsessively some may say, trying to find somewhere not too far from London (less than three hours driving) but that had lots to do regardless of the weather. And I came up with West Dorset. Ta-daaa.
I found a lovely little cottage in Burton Bradstock that looked modern and comfy (even by American standards), so we booked it. And last Friday afternoon we drove there in light traffic. It only took 2 hours and 40 minutes. Result. We had such a lovely time, that we've decided to have another holiday in Dorset before exploring Devon and Cornwall.
For those not familiar with West Dorset, I thought I would break it down into some of the areas/sites we visited (we tried to keep outings within a 30-minute drive). We had a brilliant break, and it was especially nice to have lots of family time, away from the telly, and I even kept my Twitter and blog usage down to nap times.
A lovely and quiet village near the sea. We were near to Hive Beach (National Trust car park), which is a shingley beach. It has a lovely cafe, the Hive Beach Cafe. Amazing cakes and the crab salad--oh my. Chesil Beach is nearby (NT car park) and is great for fossil hunting. There's also a fab playground in the village which was perfect for a before-dinner run about.
About half an hour along the coast from Burton Bradstock is the lovely Lyme Regis. Part of the beach is pebbly, the other part sandy. The carpark is quite close to the sandy bit which is handy if, like us, you have much to carry. There are some cafes, beach shops and an amusement centre on the promenade but we only played in the sand.
Abbotsbury is a lovely ten-minute drive, along a hill, from Burton Bradstock. Abbotsbury itself, has several tea-rooms, a children's farm/petting zoo, a swannery and gardens. We did not have time to visit the farm (which also boasts a soft play) but there's always next time.
It only took half an hour to get to Dorchester. Dorchester has several museums, which is handy on a rainy day. We went to the Dinosaur Museum and spent an enjoyable hour. My daughter got a clipboard and had to discover various facts located throughout the museum. She was thrilled. I was not too impressed that it cost £20 for three of us (my son is under three so his entry was free).
On another day, we went to the Kingston Maurward Gardens and Animal Park. We briefly got to walk around the landscaped gardens (top picture), as the kids loved the playground. They spent an hour on that damn combine harvester. But we did enjoy feeding the animals, especially the goats who had a mutual love with my 23-month old Dubz
We didn't get up to very much in Weymouth, though it has several attractions including the Sealife centre. It has a bit of shopping. We went to Matalan as I forgot to pack myself socks and panties (der-brain). The Guardian online had a feature on the Top 10 Dorset Seafood Fish Restaurants and included Marlboro Fish & Chips in Weymouth. We all loved the fish, sausage in batter and chips.