When visiting the UK, it can be all too easy to only scratch the surface of all there is to experience.
Dig a little deeper however, and you’ll no doubt come across some of the hidden treasures the Southern region has to offer; an expanse of striking countryside and coastline there is so much to discover. Woodland walks, rich full heath land ecosystems, white, vertical cliff faces, and much historical intrigue await.
We know that it can be hard to know where to begin, so to help you get started, we thought we’d share some of our favourite concealed gems.
Don’t miss out on an adventure; you won’t be disappointed.
Beech Avenue and Badbury Rings
Beech Avenue is one of Dorset’s most iconic landmarks, and for good reason. Amongst rolling country hills, the road of Beech Avenue is smooth and hilly, great for driving or cycling. The only problem is you won’t want to keep your eyes on the road for all the stunning scenery! Fortunately, Badbury Rings lies just off Beech Avenue, and the tall structure provides great views. Badbury Rings is not only greatly aesthetically appealing, but a site of historical interest, being the remnants of a fort dating back to the Iron Age.
For those literature lovers this is a must. The small cob and thatch Cottage was where Thomas Hardy was born, and resided until his marriage to Emma Gifford. Within its walls, Hardy wrote Under the Greenwood Tree, and Far From the Madding Crowd, perhaps his most famous novel. Visitors can see the majority of the house, most significantly Hardy’s room, the windowsill of which being where he wrote his early novels. The surrounding landscape gives an insight into the inspiration for much of his work, and just 3 miles away Max Gate can be found, the house Hardy lived in following his residence at the cottage until his death.
Moreton is a secluded, picturesque little village; a relic of a time passed, with small traditional tea rooms, cob and thatch cottages, and the beautiful St Nicholas’ Parish Church, which dates back to the medieval era, though was reconstructed in the 18th Century. The deciduous woodland has various walking trails and cycle paths, which if the right route is followed, will bring you to the ford. It’s the largest in Southern England, and is perfect for a cooling paddle on a hot summer’s day, as well as an excellent spot for a picnic.
Fleet is freshwater lagoon with its own beach, and is a fantastic spot for bird watching, significantly in its propensity to host migrating bird species, and Abottsbury Swans. There is a walking path perpendicular to the site, beginning at the Victoria Inn, and ending at the South West Coastal pathway, allowing visitors an immersive experience of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. Additionally, the Lagoon is hidden behind Chesil beach, setting of Ian Mcewan’s famed short story On Chesil Beach; an added bonus for those with an interest his writing.
An idyllic and unspoilt segment of west Dorset Coastline, Ringstead bay is a wonderful place for a walk, a picnic, to fly a kite, or go on a dog walk. There are ancient paths winding through the countryside which lead to the shingle beach. The beach boasts panoramic view of Weymouth harbour and Portland, as well as clear, warm and safe waters, so if the sun is glaring bathing and paddling can prove a particularly pleasant relief.
A haven for wildlife, this natural heath land is both a beautiful and fascinating site. There are information huts and guided walks available for those with particular interest in the plant and animal populations living here. In summer, when the heather is in full bloom, you can find various reptile and bird species, a seasonal highlight not to be missed.