As you all know, we here at Snaptrip – the marketplace for last-minute UK holiday cottages – are a bit in love with the South West Coast.
And with BBC’s one Poldark having re-ignited the Cornwall’s romantic spark, the desire for beaches and blue skies without the plane costs and currency-exchanges is now experiencing an all time high.
The packed out events calendars of Devon and Dorset, plus the warmer months ahead, are just two of the reasons we want to get better acquainted with the beautiful South West coast, and what better way to do that than a chat with those who know it best?
We’ve sat down with the Lyme Regis Jazz Festival, our favourite Dorset musical extravaganza, to get the inside scoop on how to achieve the very best short break Dorset has to offer – and trust us, it’s a good one!
Jurassic Road Trip
‘Take the X53 Jurassic Coaster bus between Lyme Regis and Weymouth along the most scenic coast road (B3157) in the country. It follows the line of Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon offering fabulous views from its upper deck. A day ticket allows you to jump on and off anywhere along the route.’
‘Visit the atmospheric island of Portland (not really an island as it’s connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of causeway) and the Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve (www.visit-dorset.com or www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk ) following the sculpture trail and its characteristic flora and fauna.’
‘The wonderful Shell Beach at Studland offers turquoise seas and white sands due to the accumulation of crushed shells. Its long curving sweep offers good walks at dawn and sunset, with a good National Trust cafe on site. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/
‘We think it’d be hard to beat the views across Chesil Beach and Fleet Lagoon from the hill just outside Abbotsbury on the B3157.
Alternatively, climb up Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast, reached via Langdon Hill car park and through a circular woodland walk. Or our personal favourite is via Stonebarrow Lane (a steep, narrow and hair-raising climb whether on foot or by car) just before you enter Charmouth. Great spot for a picnic with views across Lyme Bay with Lyme Regis glistening in the distance.’
Crab House Cafe – not a cafe at all but a highly individual seafood restaurant actually on the beach at the end of the Fleet Lagoon just before the causeway connecting the mainland with Portland (www.crabhousecafe.co.uk)
Hive Beach Cafe (www.hivebeachcafe.co.uk) at Hive Beach, Burton Bradstock or its sister The Watch House at West Bay – or Broadchurch as it’s now affectionately known. Both get very busy so get there early to secure a table.
The Olive Tree (www.olivetreerestaurant.ne) East Street, Bridport – specialising in Mediterranean cuisine with a local twist or The Stables, ( www.stablepizza.com/locations/the-stable–bridport) behind The Bull Hotel, East Street, Bridport majoring on pies and pizzas.
Tierra Kitchen ( www.tierrakitchen.co.uk) Coombe Street, Lyme Regis serves fresh, locally sourced and inventive vegetarian food. Further up the street, find the iconic Town Mill Bakery (https://townmillbakery.wordpress.com) which serves breakfasts, snacks and pizzas.
For more formal dining, try Mark Hix’s restaurant in Lister Gardens overlooking the iconic Cobb in Lyme Regis (www.hixrestaurants.co.uk/restaurant/). There can’t be an eaterie with a better view than this so make sure you eat there during the day to take advantage of it – or simply stop off during the day for coffee or drinks on the terrace. Another great place to take in the view from the garden terrace of the Alexandra Hotel (www.hotelalexandra.co.uk) overlooking Lyme Bay.
Lastly, By the Bay serves freshly prepared, locally sourced food for all the family right on the beach. Great place for breakfast and morning coffee on the terrace too (www.bythebay.co.uk).
A photo posted by chrystalllee (@chrystalllee) on
- Avoid travelling on the A35 if you can and take the coastal road B3157, which is quieter, less jam and accident-prone and has stunning views.
- Try local delicacies such as Dorset Knobs (a savoury biscuit which even has an annual Knob Throwing Competition in its honour) and Dorset Apple Cake – excellent examples of which can be bought from local producer Moores bakery shop (www.moores–biscuits.co.uk) on the A35 at Morecombelake, between Lyme Regis and Bridport.
- If vintage shopping’s your thing then try the Vintage Quarter in Bridport on St Michael’s Trading Estate (www.bridportantiques.co.uk), with lots of permanent outlets and a big vintage market on the last Sunday of each month. A smaller version can also be found at West Bay.
- Cocktails from 5pm every Friday are served at Dorset’s quirkiest bar, Stage Bar at Marine Theatre, Lyme Regis (www.marinetheatre.com). Fabulous views overlooking the sea towards The Cobb from the balcony.
Lyme Regis Jazz & Blues Weekend (27-29 May) is a musical must for visitors to Lyme Regis, the pearl of Dorset, over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend. With headline gigs incorporating the best of jazz, swing and blues at the iconic Marine Theatre and hours of free concerts on the seafront overlooking Lyme Bay – plus music in pubs and cafes around the town – this is a real musical weekender. This year food is also stealing its share of the limelight with a Louisana BBQ, a Jazz Brunch and pop-up traders on the seafront featuring everything from Persian chicken wraps to chilli pulled pork (www.lymeregisjazzfestival.co.uk).