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Imagine dazzling coastline millions of years in the making and a lyrical countryside peppered with castles and iron age hillforts. Now criss-cross that with literally thousands of footpaths and you’ve pretty much got Dorset, a county of awe-inspiring scenery and year-round adventure.
A perennially popular staycation destination and one of the best-loved counties in England, Dorset has been welcoming holidaymakers for years. As a result, you’ll have no trouble finding a cottage here, whether you’re after one that’s pet-friendly, a more traditional stay or a contemporary version of a cottage holiday. Once you know what you want, it’s time to decide on where. Handily, cottage holidays in Dorset can be roughly split into two types.
The Jurassic Coast
If you’re looking to experience Dorset’s magnificent coastline – a large stretch of which is taken up by the breathtaking Jurassic Coast – the major seaside resorts offer plenty of choices. Some of the best coastal destinations include Lyme Regis in the west – nicknamed the ‘Pearl of Dorset’ – Weymouth with its famous beach in the south, and Poole and Bournemouth further east. These last two, in particular, are great for family holidays.
For something a little more special, consider booking a cottage on the charming Isle of Portland, the southernmost point of Dorset (approximately a five-mile drive south of Weymouth), or near less touristy beaches like West Bexington, which is close to Chesil Beach and Seatown.
If you’re more interested in finding a holiday cottage in Dorset’s fabled countryside – almost half of the county is officially designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – popular towns such Shaftesbury and Sherborne in the north, and Dorchester and Cerne Abbas further south – the latter well-known for its giant ‘Rude Man’ hillside chalk figure – make for good bases. Why not go all out on the rustic retreat front and get a cottage with a log fire, too?
Elsewhere, quieter and cheaper cottages can be found in more rural areas surrounding the likes of Sturminster Newton, which was briefly home to the writer Thomas Hardy, Blandford Forum, close to the iron age hill fort Badbury Rings, and Beaminster, where you may run into British TV royalty Martin Clunes.
Wherever you end up choosing for your Dorset cottage break, always remember to ask the most important question: is it within walking distance of a local pub?
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