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A traveller's guide to South Dorset

Sitting pretty on the south coast, this rural beauty has it all, from monkey business to picture-perfect coves.

Published 8 Apr 2019, 23:56 BST, Updated 15 Jul 2021, 14:48 BST
Durdle Door at sunset.

Durdle Door at sunset.

Photograph by Alamy

Why go

History's writ large on the Dorset coast. The county claims 86 miles of the 95-mile Jurassic Coast — the UK's first wholly natural UNESCO World Heritage Site — meaning 185 million years of geological wonders, from fossil-flecked cliffs to secluded beaches and coastal walks. Inland, castles dot the rolling green landscape, while chocolate-box villages, historic market towns and seaside resorts all make the perfect base to explore some of the most stunning countryside in Britain.

Where to stay

Silverlake estate offers a range of sustainable properties in natural surroundings, kitted out with features such as a wood burner, barbecue and outdoor decking area.

What to do

Seek out the county's various castles: from the first-century Iron Age hill fort, Maiden Castle, through to the stunning ruins of Corfe Castle and the grand, imposing 17th-century castle at Lulworth. 

Where to eat

Book in advance at The Sailor's Return in Chaldon Herring, near Durdle Door, for tasty local lobster, or call in for tea and cake at one of Manna Kitchen's cafes, which also offer in-accommodation dining.

We like

Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre in Bovington is a 65-acre sanctuary for the world's rescued and endangered primates, including gibbons, chimpanzees and orangutans. Keepers' talks offer insight into life at the park, and you'll leave wanting to 'adopt' one.

Don't miss

Arching spectacularly into the turquoise sea, Durdle Door is one of the country's most recognised landmarks. This natural limestone 'doorway' is the Jurassic Coast at its most photogenic. Walk down the cliff path to the beach and enjoy the views.

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Published in the December 2018 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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