“Dorset has no high mountains and no coal. Everything else of beauty and almost everything of utility can be found within its borders.”
This was Ralph Wightman’s description of one of England’s most enchanting counties. Twenty-five miles of the county’s spectacular coastline has been awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO for its outstanding geology, an accolade that ranks it alongside the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. The glorious coastal scenery includes beautiful Lulworth Cove, the strange natural formations of Durdle Door and the 10-milelong stretch of pebbles known as Chesil Beach. South of Weymouth, the Isle of Purbeck – famous for the marble that has been quarried here since Roman times – falls like a tear-drop into the English Channel. To the west is the charming resort town of Lyme Regis, famous for its curved harbour wall, The Cobb, its associations with Jane Austen and for the remarkable fossils discovered in what is now known as the Jurassic Coast.
Inland, gently rolling hills, woodlands and gentle river valleys epitomise the charms of unspoilt rural England. Delightful old market towns like Shaftesbury, Bridport, Blandford Forum and Sherborne have a settled graciousness, while villages such as Milton Abbas, Cranborne and Breamore are almost impossibly picturesque.
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