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With the stunning Jurassic coastline, great beaches and family attractions, it’s no wonder that Dorset remains a popular holiday destination year after year. Here’s Sykes Cottages guide to attractions a little off the beaten track if you’re looking to avoid too many tourists. Just be aware, you may want to book a self-catering holiday in Dorset soon as these hidden gems won’t stay secret for long!
Take a trip to Studland
While the beaches of Bournemouth and Poole offer long stretches of golden sand complete with all the amenities you’d expect from a beach resort, the National Trust-owned Studland is my personal favourite. Half the fun is getting there and the quickest way is to catch the chain ferry from upmarket Sandbanks across to Studland. Try to travel by foot or bike and you’ll avoid the long lines of cars queuing for the chain ferry on a summer’s day and spend more time on the beach. Rent an old-fashioned beach hut and watch the waves roll in or hire a pedalo for stunning views of this dramatic coastline from the water. Nearby there’s a fantastic country pub with a great garden and a cafe selling delicious local ice cream.
Visit Brownsea Island
Famous for being the birthplace of scouting and guiding in the UK, Brownsea Island located in Poole Harbour makes for a delightful day trip. Take a walk through the peaceful island which is a haven for wildlife; you may even spot a red squirrel or two as you stroll. You’ll discover a pretty beach, an old pottery works and peacocks, not to mention wonderful views across the harbour. Travel with the kids and pick up a family activity pack to complete or just enjoy absolute tranquillity as you walk around the island.
Head inland to beautiful Shaftesbury
Once you’ve exhausted the delights of the Jurassic coastline, venture further inland to explore the charming hill top town of Shaftesbury, made famous by Thomas Hardy and Hovis bread. In fact, you probably drove through Shaftesbury on your way to the coast! Modern Shaftesbury is a thriving community with plenty for tourists to enjoy from regular market days, the free Gold Hill museum and Shaftesbury Abbey. If you were alive in the 1980s you’ll want to recreate the famous advert by walking up Gold Hill too! There are plenty of local festivals throughout the summer such as the Larmer Tree Festival and Cycle Revival which are well worth a visit.
Get your adrenaline pumping!
Dorset’s proximity to the sea means that the area is a haven for watersports addicts with windsurfers packing Poole harbour most weekends. For me, the best way to get out on the water is on a RIB, the kind of boats used for lifesaving, which reach serious speeds as you bounce across the waves. But if you thought that thrill-seeking activities only happened on the water, you’d be wrong. The crazy New Zealand-born sport of Zorbing was first introduced to the UK in Dorset and you’ll want to have a go while you’re here. Strap yourself into a giant inflatable hamster ball and roll down a hill for the ultimate in excitement!