A little dose of Dorset – with a dash of Stonehenge.

Juliano and Angelita with the ruins of Corfe Castle in the background

I relish being a tourist in my own backyard and showing off some of my favourite hangouts to visitors. With my sister and brother-in-law visiting from Brazil, I got a chance to give the newly-wed couple a little dose of Dorset and a quick dash across the border into Wiltshire to visit neolithic Stonehenge.

If you have been following this blog, you know that my sister Angelita and her husband Juliano chose Europe as their honeymoon getaway. On my previous posts I wrote about how my other sister Virginia and I gatecrashed their honeymoon and accompanied them to Paris and Amsterdam. On our return from Continental Europe to England we did not lose anytime to get in my car and drive  South from London, minus our sister Virginia who had to go back to work the very next day. We arrived at my home in Dorset in the early evening where my husband Brian had cooked us a nice dinner.

Dorset is a County of great beauty. Situated on the South coast of England, it has a breathtaking coastline, golden beaches with sea carved bays and towering chalk white cliffs, and numerous unspoiled little rural villages set against rolling countryside hills. The difficulty is to decide were to start exploring? With a huge checklist of charming places on offer we decided to start at the medieval village of Corfe Castle.

Corfe Castle, Corfe Castle Village – Dorset

A medieval village, with a thousand years old Castle of the same name dominating the landscape. The Castle, in its thousand year history has been a Saxon stronghold, a Norman Fortress, a Royal palace and lastly just a home owned by the Bankes family. Now only the ruins remain after it was besieged by Cromwellian forces during the civil war. I have always loved taking my visitors to explore this little village that looks like it is lost in a medieval time-warp. Everyone enjoys hearing about the many tales of treachery and treason that unfolded here in this little corner of Dorset. We also stopped for an obligatory cream tea with lovely views of the Castle ruins…of course.

How about this view for a cream tea?

The ruins of Corfe Castle towers over Corfe Castle village

Angelita and Juliano by the oldest Pub in Corfe Castle village

Swanage – Durlston Country Park in Dorset

Situated up on a hill above the sea town of Swanage, this 280 acre park and nature reserve is home to some impressive limestone clifftop trails, surrounded by ancient meadows, a diverse wildlife combined with a fascinating geology and history.  We walked the clifftop trail towards the “Great Globe”, one of the largest stone spheres in the world it was built in 1886/87 entirely of local stone it weighs about 40 tonnes and is 3 metres (10 ft) in diameter.

Angelita and Juliano by the “Great Globe”, Durlston Castle in the top left.

There are various trails to choose from with a variety of landscapes, but we decided for  the clifftop trail, which although a little fresh with a gentle sea breeze reminding us that Autumn is here, it was actually very pleasantly sunny. We followed the well marked path that takes you to the edge of a very rugged coast with some scary drops down into the cold waters of the English Channel. We stopped for a rest and sat on the grass to admire the views from the cliff top. In the distance we could see the Isle of Wight to one side and the Swanage Lighthouse  which was built in 1880, on the clifftop at Anvil Point just in front of where we were sitting. A perfect place for a break and a drink of chimarrão (also known as mate) which we brought with us,  plus a flask of boiling water. It is served hot and it tastes a bit like green tea,  very traditional of our State of RS in the South of Brazil.

A drink of chimarrão

The cliff top walk is not particularly hard, although there is one steepish climb towards the Light House.

Lighthouse at Durlston Country Park in Swanage with some friendly cows in the foreground

We ended our walk with a wholesome lunch at “Durlston Castle”. This Victorian building is not a real castle, but rather intended as a restaurant built by George Burt in 1887 in the grounds of Durlston Country Park for the visitors of his estate, it has sweeping views of the eroding cliffs of Swanage bay. The castle has been extensively restored and the work completed in 2011, it is now also a visitor centre and a hub of all the activities going on in this area. The visitor centre always holds interesting exhibitions including some from local artists.

Views from the tower of “Durlston Castle”

Square and Compass at Worth Matravers

A short car ride from Swanage, the Square and Compass is a charming old pub situated in a beautiful location overlooking a valley. There are sea views from the terrace tables and  that runs down to join the South West Coastal Path at the popular ledges of Winspit. This charming pub is a gem of a place. It has been in the same family for more than a hundred years, but the building itself began life many centuries ago as a pair of cottages. In 1776 it became an alehouse owned by a Wareham brewer. These days it sells simple local food, pasties, pies, locally produced ales and cider, it is a no frills place and the food is served on paper plates via a hatch on the wall in the same way that it has been for many generation’s. Quirky and full of character it is the stomping grounds of local artists and musicians as well its faithful regulars like us who have been coming here for years. After a delicious, warm pastie we walked down the valley towards the Winspit  quarry. The old quarry in its hey days has produced stones for many of the London buildings, but it is no longer in use as it was closed down in 1940 during World War II was used as a site for naval and air defences. In more recent years it has been used as film location for British TV program ” Doctor Who” in the episode ” The Underwater Menace”, also as the planet “Skaro” in the serial “Destiny of the Daleks” and in 2012 the Disney film ” John Carter” for the scene location of the “Orkney Dig”.

Square and Compass

Inside it is quirky, cosy and full of character

Juliano and Angelita at Winspit Quarry

Stonehenge – Wiltshire 

Tearing ourselves away from beautiful Dorset just for one day, our exploring took us across the border into Wiltshire for a quick road trip to Stonehenge and a walk in the footsteps of our Neolithic ancestors. Perhaps the most famous prehistoric monument in the UK, it is also one of the Wonders of the World. There are many theories and stories about the significance of Stonehenge, the most generally accepted interpretation is that this intriguing stone circle is that of a prehistoric temple aligned with the movements of the sun. The very large standing stones are local sandstone  but the smaller ones, known as “bluestones”, come from the Preseli hills in Wales Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. I first visited this monument in 1988 on a motorbike road trip with my boyfriend Brian (now my husband) and we parked the bike nearby and walked around getting very close to the stones. Today visitors are not allowed to get so close and certainly not allowed to touch the stones. But you are able to walk around the monument from a short distance away and take as many photos as you wish…we certainly did.

The celebrations of the Summer and Winter Solstice here can also be great fun, my daughter Chloe has been here with friends during the Summer Solstice and loved it.

Stonehenge

Honeymooners at Stonehenge

Visitor Centre at Stonehenge

Salisbury Cathedral – Wiltshire 

Just about 8 miles from Stonehenge one of Britain’s finest 13th Century Gothic Cathedral, stands proudly with its tall tower and spire in the city of Salisbury, one of Britain’s quintessential Medieval cities. Inside the Cathedral visitors can also see the best preserved Magna Carta (1215) and thought to be the oldest working Medieval Clock. We stopped by for a visit before heading home to Dorset.

Salisbury Cathedral

Exhibition of Magna Carta

Lulworth Cove And Durdle Door – Dorset

We are not quite done with exploring Dorset yet, another day and lots more to see, and it was great that my daughter Chloe joined us for a coastal walking trail from the charming fishing village of Lulworth Cove to beautiful Durdle Door. Chloe is currently living at home with us and doing her Pharmacy Pre- Registration year here in Dorset, it has been a very tough year for her with very little free time to have fun.

Lulworth Cove

Angelita braving the steep climb towards Durdle Door

Descent down to the beach and Durdle Door

Durdle Door

Picnic with Angelita, Juliano and Chloe on the pebbly beach of Durdle Door

Man-of-War Bay and the cliff top trail we walked on

Poole Harbour and Sandbanks

We can catch glimpses of Poole Habour from our home and it is only a short drive away to the shores one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The harbour is the estuary of several rivers, and is extremely shallow with an average depth of 48 cm, therefore larger boats tend to sail down its main dredged channel that cuts through it. Sandbanks is a small peninsula crossing the mouth of Poole Harbour. Real estate here comes at a premium, being the 4th highest land value in the world it is home to some of the UK rich and famous. It has the highest concentration of expensive properties outside London. The shallow waters of the harbour is a mecca for water sports enthusiasts, in particular windsurfing, kite surfing, kayaking and paddle-boarding. We spent some time here enjoying the white sandy beach and walking along the harbour side promenade. Afterwards we took the short ferry ride across to Studland beach and towards the Purbeck hills.

Sandbanks, Poole Habour

Poole Harbour with a view of Brownsea Island on the right

 

Poole harbour has many small islands dotted around, the largest of which is Brownsea Island which was the location of an experimental camp in 1907 by Robert Badden-Powell to test out his scouting ideas which then led to the formation of the Scout movement in 1908. The Island hosts every Summer a William Shakespeare play in its open air theatre and people gather with a pre- show picnic on the grounds of a protected nature reserve where peacocks and red squirrels are often spotted frolicking around. We have been a  few times with friends and have thoroughly enjoyed it.

The week of exploring was nearly over when Virginia arrived to take the newly weds back to London and to enjoy their final honeymoon days in the English capital. We had spent two wonderful weeks together travelling to Paris, Amsterdam and finishing off in the South of England.

Goodbyes are never easy…better start planing our next get together.

 

 

30 Comments on “A little dose of Dorset – with a dash of Stonehenge.

  1. Absolutely stunning landscape images. Your backyard is quite magnificent and l feel like l was on the journey with you guys. The honeymooners look so happy. I am in awe of the cathedral. I never imagined it was so pretty nor did l know it had the oldest Magna Carta. Thanks for the history lesson on Stonehenge too, l never really knew what they thought formed it. I have to say the next time we’re in the U.K, l am going to make an effort to include Dorset in our travels. Gorgeous!!!! Oh..the Durdle reminds me of the Azure Window in Gozo.

  2. Kemkem, Dorset has a lot to offer, beautiful landscapes, history, amazing geology with the Jurassic Coast being a goldmine for fossil hunting. If you come to Dorset it will be a pleasure to show you around, we have a spare room with your name on it?

  3. What extraordinary guides you were! I have to say your backyard is extraordinary. To think you can see Stonehenge on a day trip! I especially loved the photos of Durdle Door.

    • Sue, Dorset has some great treasures to explore, it is nice to be able to be a tour guide to our visitors, Durdle Door is one of my favourites. Stonehenge is only about one and a half hour from my home, very doable on a day trip. We got lucky to get the perfect weather for some of the outdoor hikes we did:)

  4. Dorset is absolutely beautiful. I took a day trip from London to Salisbury & Stonehenge when I was there years ago. It would be so much nicer to be able to explore at a slower pace instead of the usual tour experience. You know, you have 30 minutes and you need to: use the facilities, brush your teeth, get a snack/coffee, see the sight you came to see, take some pictures, buy a post card/souvenir, hurry back to the bus. Did I mention the part about 30 minutes?!!!

    I must be getting stories mixed up in my head again – I thought you lived in Scotland, for some reason. LOL.

    • Donna, bus tours can be a lot of fun, but I know what you mean about having to be on their schedule. Exploring at your own pace is a lot better, we are just a short drive from Stonehenge, so it was easy to do it on a leisurely day trip. My husband is from Scotland and we do visit regularly, but we live in Dorset 🙂 Thanks for your comment.

  5. Querida sister! Nós amamos visitar sua casa e o lugar onde vc mora, ficamos apaixonados por Dorset. E vc foI uma excelente guia, não só nos levando por todos esses lugares lindos mas tbem por ser essa cia muitíssima agradável. Queremos voltar no futuro, tenho certeza que tem mais p ver. Bjos!

    • Lita querida, adoramos receber voces aqui em Dorset e foi otimo poder conhecer melhor o Juliano. Nossa viagem para Paris e Amsterdam tambem foi legal demais, vai ficar pra sempre na memoria. O convite para me visitar aqui em Dorset fica sempre aberto e voltem quando quiser. Espero que logo possamos estar juntas de novo, curtindo viajar e conhecer esse mundo lindo que temos. Bjjs!!!

  6. ‘Love it! ‘Love it! Love it!
    These photographs are gorgeous and make me feel enormously home-sick. I’ve done a lot of the UK over the years (Eeek!), but I’ve never been to Dorset or Wiltshire. You’ve given me a few ideas for the next time we do a family holiday “home.”
    p.s. You all look so happy, and I love the clean lines and the new logo on your website!

    • Victoria, I am so happy you have enjoyed the post 🙂 Dorset has a lot to offer, it is as pretty as a picture and you must come and visit next time you come over to the UK. I am trying to improve my blog, it is a slow progress, I have a lot to learn about WordPress. Since deciding to change to self hosting it has been more challenging for me and often don’t have a clue about what I should be doing. Thanks for the encouragement 🙂

  7. Even though everyone is bundled up, judging from the photos, (which are beautiful) it looks as if it was a spectacular day. I love the photo of the cows lazily watching the world go by from their field of grass with the farm and ocean as their backdrop.

    So I have to ask the question. What is a “cream” tea? Is it literally a cuppa with cream?! 🙂

    • Patti, a “cream tea” is tea served with scones, cream and jam. But there are some variations depending where you are in the UK. There is also “high tea” , that will imclude small sandwiches and tea cakes. We love them all😄

  8. Oh how fabulous to get a glimpse of what’s in your backyard with your beautiful photos and informative narrative! I’m not sure why we’ve overlooked Dorset when we’ve talked about a visit to England but it’s definitely on our radar now with its spectacular coastline, ruins, and mix of countryside and villages. In fact, I really like the idea of a leisurely visit over several days to soak in the history and beauty as well as dive into its complicated history. One of these days, I’ll be in touch for some info and ideas! P.S. Tell your daughter to keep studying. I was a pharmacist in my previous life and it was a rewarding career for many years. Anita

  9. Anita, you can easily fly from Faro Airport into Bournemouth, it is only about 2:30 to 3 hrs. We have a comfortable spare room waiting for you and Richard. I will tell Chloe about your good advice, she is having such a hard time and we have had few tears. She would enjoy meeting you and getting some encouragement 😄

    • Yes the South of England is very beautiful. We did have a lot of fun exploring, having visitors is a great way of doing the touristic things that you don’t often do. Thanks for commenting

  10. You certainly have yourself a gorgeous doorstep there in Dorset, Gilda! What a lovely time you all had together. The photos are beautiful. 🙂

    • Thanks Jo, having my sister and brother -in-law was great fun, we were lucky to get very good weather for our exploring. Dorset has some beautiful hiking trails, I think you would enjoy Dorset Jo😄

      • I’m pretty sure! I was watching Julia Bradbury walking in Lynmouth last night on TV. It looked fabulous (but steep 🙂 )

        • Jo, Julia has done some great walks here in Dorset. One of my favourites is the Studland Beach to Harry Rocks. You would love it. Come to Dorset and we can do it together 🙂

  11. I think this is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK but I’m probably biased because I’m from nearby Hampshire and have had a lot of family holidays in the area. I think Lulworth Cove is particularly lovely and when I was doing my journalism masters at Bournemouth Uni I interviewed some of the staff who worked at Corfe Castle for a feature 🙂

    • You did your Masters at Bournemouth? So you must have got to know Dorset quite well? It is a beautiful county and certainly neighbouring Hampshire with the gorgeous New Forest is also a beauty. I would like to read your interview with Corfe Castle staff : )

  12. Nice photos, but what really struck me was Durdle Door. Wow. Stonehenge – whenever I see photos I think of that scene from European Vacation when Chevy Chase accidentally knocks the whole pile of rocks down like dominos. Whoops.
    Looks like you live in a nice part of the world Gilda.

    Fran (bbqboy)

  13. Frank I had to go and watch that scene again on YouTube it is very funny. Durddle Door is gorgeous, one of my favourite places in Dorset, I do enjoy taking my visitors there and it never fails to impress. It is a very beautiful place to live, I love this corner of Emgland, although I do complain a lot about the bad weather that lasts far too long☹️

  14. Wonderful landscapes. You live in a beautiful part of the world. So glad you could share it with the newlyweds. Thanks for the follow on my blog. Happy to reciprocate.

  15. Peggy, I love the South of England it does have a beautiful coastline. I was very pleased to find your fab blog and I have been busy catching up with all your blog posts. I have really enjoyed your posts on South America and my home country Brazil. All your overland trips sound like great fun and I might try it myself sometime. I have just returned from a trip to your homeland of Australia, watch out for the blog posts coming out soon 🙂

I would love to hear from you, leave a reply.

Follow

Get the latest posts delivered to your mailbox: