If you want to make the most of Spring or Summer in the UK, I highly recommend a trip to Dorset: with the trees and flowers in full bloom, the beautiful countryside, an easy access to the coast and many interesting places to visit, Dorset is a dream area to spend a weekend or more when the days get longer.
I went there recently and very much appreciated discovering Shaftesbury and its surroundings, as well as the lovely cottage we were staying at for the occasion!
Today, DOYOUSPEAKLONDON presents the perfect getaway in Shaftesbury, Dorset!
Shaftesbury in Dorset
It took us 2 hours to get to Shaftesbury from London (with quite a straightforward route) on a Friday evening. After lockdown restrictions were lifted a bit, it seemed quite incredible and truly liberating to leave our local area! We jumped in the car ready to conquer the world … starting with Dorset!
Not only is Shaftesbury home to the “Pub of the year 2019” (given that 2020 and 2021 did not count, I consider this info still up-to-date!), but it also numbers several gorgeous streets, lovely cottages, attractive shops, and great places to eat or have a drink. Shaftesbury has it all to make your stay easy and pleasant.
Shaftesbury is said to be ” the only significant hilltop settlement in Dorset”, which creates a gorgeous setting with houses to admire in the foreground while the beautiful landscape appears in the distance.
For those interested in Shaftesbury’s rich history, I have found this detailed website to satisfy your curiosity.
Stourhead National Trust
On our first day, we visited Stourhead National Trust, only 11 miles away from Shaftesbury.
This estate is certainly the most spectacular one I have ever visited in England.
It offers 2,500 acres of landscape to explore via different walking trails, with rare and exotic trees and plants to discover, a magnificent lake to admire (with this stunning water colour!). Surrounded by classical temples and mystical grottoes, this place is the perfect setting for a long walk in the fresh air.
Old Wardour Castle
Shaftesbury is an ideal starting point for many walks and cultural discoveries.
As we had a limited time in the area (and had to book all visits in advance, which somehow limited the spontaneity in our choices) we opted for the 14th-century Old Wardour Castle, also only a few miles away from Shaftesbury and based in neighbouring Wiltshire.
Actually, we found more than just ruins at Old Wardour Castle: a rich and interesting history and an invitation to take in the bucolic atmosphere and enjoy the sun, lying on the grass (many people were picnicking there, kids were running everywhere and the staff was very friendly).
We also had the opportunity to walk around the Castle and lake, and get to know the countryside.
This place is a pleasant family outing, especially if the sun is out!
Dorset & Wiltshire highlights
There’s no shortage of places to visit from Shaftesbury and here I have selected my top 4 ideas to get you inspired!
Poole (26 miles, 42mn):
Poole is a coastal town in Dorset, known for its large natural harbour and sandy beaches. From there, you can go and visit the Blue Lagoon, also called The Blue Pool Nature Reserve, a magical Pool famous for its ever-changing colours. I highly recommend exploring this place on a sunny day to get the full magic experience.
Durdle door (32 miles, 52mn)
Durdle Door is an iconic landmark that is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. It is one of the most popular and photographed beauty spots on the coast and you can easily imagine why! I would recommend avoiding the peak season in the summer and favour the inter-seasons to make the most of the place.
Corfe Castle (32 miles, 47mn)
This Thousand-year-old royal castle has also a rich history and a spectacular setting near the coast. Another interesting National Trust Estate to discover that could be coupled with a visit to Poole.
Stonehenge (25 miles, 33mn)
Stonehenge needs no introduction. Its convenient location on the way to Shaftesbury (or back to London) makes it impossible to miss. Either you can choose to look at it while driving by or -as lockdown rules will be lifted soon- you can stop by and get the full experience onsite.
There are of course plenty more things to do and see in Dorset and I have no doubt you will find it exciting to explore the map carefully!
Frog Cottage, Shaftesbury, Dorset
If you’re looking for accommodation full of charm and character, that feels like a home away from home, Frog Cottage is for you!
Located in Shaftesbury, close to all shops and restaurants, it’s a very convenient location for all those who don’t want to bother taking the car once they have arrived at their holiday destination.
A comfy and welcoming house in a lovely town is all we needed to spend a weekend away from London. Add to that all the toys and games your kids could wish for and you’ve got “the best place on earth” (kids can get a bit excessive sometimes but there must be some truth in this!).
We had a blast there and I can only advise you to book your stay in advance not to be disappointed!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and found inspiration here. If you are planning to visit some of the places mentioned in this post, please share your experience and opinion on DOYOUSPEAKLONDON’s blog!