More drama than Broadchurch: a car-free tour around the West Bay, Dorset | Dorset Holidays

aAnyone who’s seen ITV’s crime drama Broadchurch has an idea of ​​what Dorset’s Jurassic Coast looks like: sunset-golden beaches under honeycombed sandstone cliffs. But, beyond the sandy selfies and caravan sites, there are hidden trails on sunken paths between the edges of heart-tongue ferns. There are vanishing birds and wild swans on the edge of a long pebble lagoon, great trails and bus rides and seriously good cafes on hills overlooking the ocean.

UK map showing West Bay and Bridgeport in Dorset, UK.

I make regular trips to West Bay, the port area of ​​Bridgeport, to visit family. This time, I’m also there for a walk along the coast – in a few days’ time – with my brother and friends. I start by swimming near the famous rocks. Afterwards, it’s time for babu gelato from the purple-hued kiosk near the port. Ice cream is made a few miles down the road in Salway Ash, along with seasonal fruit (such as Ford Abbey strawberries) and local organic milk. Flavors range from creamy maple with prelined walnuts to tangy passion fruit sorbet. This time I have caramel-chewy honeycomb with sharp gooseberry on a giant cone (£4).

Sandwiched between rolling farmland and a sultry sea, it’s no wonder that the Dorset coast produces great things to eat and drink. In the countryside there are farm shops and vineyards and along the road there are boxes of honesty. One of my favorite local restaurants is Dorshi’s, where I’m meeting friends tonight. Down a narrow alleyway from Bridport’s East Street, a 10-minute ride from West Bay on bus X53, it serves up a mind-expanding blend of Asian flavors and local produce in steamed or crisp-fried dumplings and noodle bowls . We go upstairs to the colorful bar and order onion fries with kimchi sauce (£3) and a pea green cocktail made from stolichnaya and sugar snaps (£8.50).

A range of cuisines from Dorshi Restaurants in Dorset, UK.
Dishes from Dorshi Restaurant. Photo: Matt Austin

Bridgeport, with its regular markets and indie shops, is the perfect place for grazing and browsing. You can buy fruity Bridgeport buns (£4.25 for six) from Leekers Bakery or sip locally brewed pints at Ropemakers Arms, where light gleams from copper jugs and lobster pots lurk in rafters.

The next day, I walk a mile along the Britt River, past willow, purple loosestrife, and turquoise flash at Kingfisher’s, Palmers, Bridgeport’s 18th-century brewery. A friendly two-hour tour (£16) of old-school copper mash dunes and peaceful riverside yards ends with tasters that include the sprightly Dorset Gold and the sweet-but-lemon Copper Ale.

Historic Palmers Brewery beside the Britt River in Bridport, Dorset, England, UK
Palmers Brewery. Photograph: Graham Hunt/Alamy

With two giant cheese straws from Leekers (£3.95) to eat along the way, I make a hazy couple of passes cross-country for tea with the family at Downhouse Farms. This barn-style cafe, with expansive views of the waterfront from the moss-walled south-facing garden, serves up breakfasts and curries, scones with jam, or homemade Dorset apple cakes for serving homegrown herbs and vegetables and Uses farm organic meat.

Accommodations in the West Bay area include the George Inn (doubles from £127 B&B, minimum two nights), next to the Harbor bus stop and off-grid Shepherd’s Huts at Downhouse Farms (for two, £75 per night) . After tea, a 20-minute walk over the rolling fields brings us to the beach with the crumbling cliffs of Ipe. Views from Thorncombe Beacon stretch from the coast west to Lime Regis and southeast to Portland, where we’ll be walking tomorrow. For now, it is less than a mile along the Coast Path of the West Bay.

Morning view of the fields near Downhouse Farms, Dorset, UK.
Morning view of the fields near Downhouse Farm. Photo: Maurice Savage/Alamy

Sitting outside the Watch House Cafe as the sun sets on West Bay’s East Beach, I can see the many Broadchurch locations. On the quay are the glass-walled folly that doubled as a police station, the fictional Sea Brigade Hall (the West Bay Discovery Center in an old Methodist church) and the waterside cabin where David Tennant’s character lived in series two and where, in fact In Life, you can rent rowing boats (£15 an hour to travel the river.

From Exminster to Weymouth, the X53 via West Bay is one of the UK’s top scenic bus rides, a rollercoaster with ocean views cruising the Dorset hills and squeezing through the gilded streets of Abbotsbury, which is the meeting point for our growth. This year, there’s also a new open-top X52, from Bridgeport to Bovington. York’s friends stand in Burton Bradstock, ready for postcards. They join me on the open upper deck from outside the Anchor Pub. Up here we can see thatched hut roofs leveled with patches of lichen and straw animals and in gardens filled with Spanish daisies and lobelia. About 20 minutes later, the bus rolls over a headland to reveal St. Catherine’s Chapel at the top of the hill, backed by the long Fleet Lagoon and the sea.

Marching Swan at Feeding Time, Abbotsbury Swanry, Dorset, UK.
Mealtime Goose, Abbotsbury Swanry. Photo: Alamyo

Medieval monks, from the same monastery that built St Catherine’s, first cultivated swans in Abbotsbury to supply monastic feasts. One spring, I took my son and his friend to Swanry, a colony of 600 nesting mute swans on the edge of the fleet, half a mile on the sidewalk from the bus stop (£10/£5 for adults/children). ) Was. In April, it was littered with giant nests with dragon-like eggs, which soon became fluffy gray cygnets. Anna Pavlova dances at the Swanry in preparation for Swan Lake in the 1920s and there is a picture of her with other ballerinas, all in tutus, laughing and posing on the straw-covered shore of the creek behind a flock of swans gives. The nearby reed bed was also a Harry Potter movie location (for a tense scene in Half-Blood Prince chasing through the swamp outside the Weasley’s home). The Abbotsbury subtropical garden, with their ginger lilies, agapanthus and Burmese-style rope bridges under Japanese maples, is an easy walk down a pampas-fringed path from the bus stop (£10/£5 for adults/children) .

As we set off today, we can see Swanari from the Coast Path. We’re walking a dozen miles from Abbotsbury to the Portland Peninsula. The bottom of our shoes smelled of pineapple from an iodized sea breeze and crushed nuts. We stop at Moonfleet Manor to sit on the terrace with fig trees and sip tea from the large silver pots. The nearest bus stop to Moonfleet, called Knights at the Bottom, is a mile or so inland, a short (about seven miles) distance with a direct bus from Abbotsbury. Today we walk around and end up with fish pie (£10.95) and a table outside the Cove House Inn by Shillinge Chesil Beach in Chiswell with the Atlantic and evening lights shining on the water. Bus 1 heads from within staggering distance of the pub in Weymouth, just after 8 p.m., back to the West Bay to join the last bus of the evening.

Cove House in Chiswell, Portland, Dorset, UK.
Cove House Inn. Photograph: Gregory Davis/Alamy

The next day, I’m on the X52 again, heading home. It’s a route I never get bored of, which is lucky because I take this bus several times a year. I land in Weymouth, not far from a tapas bar that once acted as a nightclub in Broadchurch. I have time to swim through the soft, flat sand before going 10 minutes around the corner of the station. There are fleetingly beautiful views to Waterloo by train: sunlit marshes with egrets and rowing boats awaiting the tide. Around the pool, there is water on both sides of the train, and later in the Green and Purple Mile of the New Forest there are birch trees, broken and wild ponies.

Bus travel was previously provided by (day ticket £12 .)) South Western Railway runs hourly trains from London Waterloo to Weymouth (advance tickets from £14.90 each way)) More info on Visit Dorset

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