Dorset Coast Discovery Tour
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Meadows & hills
Discover the dramatic coastline of the Jurassic Coast and the beautiful chalk downlands further afield. Get Far From The Madding Crowd in Dorchester, once home to renowned author Thomas Hardy, and enjoy the calm of Cerne Abbas – famous for its chalk giant – the elegant mansion of Kingston Lacy*, the welcoming market town of Wimborne Minster and the stunning Purbeck peninsula.
Our Discovery Tours really get into the heart of the countryside. These are sightseeing tours by minibus, visiting places not normally reached by a full-sized coach. Small groups and friendly leaders make this a great way to enjoy Britain at its best.
- Jurassic Coast and Weymouth
- Thomas Hardy’s Dorchester
- Quaint village of Cerne Abbas
- Elegant mansion of Kingston Lacy* (*not open for group tours at Easter)
- Wimborne Minster
- The Isle of Purbeck
- Optional short strolls of up to 1½ miles
- High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our country house
- The services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
- Full-day excursions with all transport on touring days in a good-quality, comfortable mini-coach
- Admission cost for the Swanage railway
West Lulworth House has a wonderful elevated location just 200 yards from the sea. Its elevated location overlooking Lulworth Cove allows spectacular views from many of the rooms, the garden and the outdoor swimming pool. The house has undergone major investment with the completion of a new lounge and dining room
We have 20 newly refurbished bedrooms at West Lulworth House, many with wonderful views down to the sea.
These rooms are all ensuite and furnished to a good standard. They include:
These rooms are slightly larger and/or have a better view. They include:
Only an extra £15 per person per night
These rooms truly are the best in the house for extra luxury during your stay. They include:
Only an extra £20 per person per night
Choose Your Room: Our new “Choose Your Room” service is available at our UK country houses, providing the option to choose and confirm a specific room for an extra £30 per room. Supplements to upgrade to 'Better' or 'Best' rooms still apply. The choice of room number must be of the same room type as originally booked and is subject to availability.
At the house
|All holidays at our Country Houses are full board accommodation including evening meal on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure. All of our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.
√ Start your day with our extensive breakfast.
Just relax and take it easy, or if you'd like to continue to chat with our guides and fellow guests then why not grab a drink or take part in one of our optional evening activities.
All of our bars are stocked with locally sourced drinks so you can really soak up your surroundings.
During your Discovery Tour you'll have the opportunity to visit many fascinating places. The following is our provisional programme, and your HF Holidays' leader may adjust it at their discretion, taking into account factors such as weather, local opening times, or other events. This holiday includes active sightseeing and you should expect to spend lots of time on your feet.
Most admissions to places of interest are not included, apart from the Swanage Railway which is included. Please allow up to £10 per day for admissions to all the places of interest we will be visiting. The full adult price is given but there are usually good reductions for parties and seniors. If you are a member of the National Trust, English Heritage or similar, remember to bring your card for free admission to their properties. Please bring cash as card machines are not always available at all venues.
Sometimes things happen beyond our control – the weather, traffic jams or changes at the places we visit. If we need to adjust your holiday programme, for whatever reason, your leader will help smooth the way.
You're welcome to check-in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (best & better rooms from 1pm). Please join us for afternoon tea.
Saxon Wareham & the Swanage Railway
We enjoy a visit to the Saxon town of Wareham and continue with a nostalgic trip on the Swanage Railway. After lunch in Swanage and a stroll along the promenade, our afternoon will be spent at Durlston Country Park to enjoy the stunning sea views and cliffs. And perhaps a cup of tea at the Victorian folly – Durlston Castle. Our journey back will follow the Purbeck ridge with views over Poole Harbour.
Jurassic Coast, Portland & Weymouth
A highlight of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the Isle of Purbeck, a stone sculpture trail, views to Chesil Beach, and an iconic lighthouse at Portland. We finish the day in Weymouth, the base for the Olympic sailing events in 2012.
7-night holiday: Free day
A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House. Our Discovery Points help you make the most out of your free day. There’s plenty of maps and a selection of the best local walking routes, as well as weather forecasts and public transport options – plus details about other places to visit.
3-night holiday: Depart after a leisurely breakfast
4-night holiday: Arrival day
You're welcome to check-in to your room from 2.30pm onwards (best & better rooms from 1pm). Please join us for afternoon tea.
Cerne Abbas & Sherborne
Start the morning with a visit to the historic village of Cerne Abbas, known for the infamous giant resting on the hillside. We then visit Sherborne castle, the stunning home built by Sir Walter Raleigh, with a Capability Brown garden. The afternoon is spent in Sherborne, a charming country town, with a magnificent abbey, which traces its origins to Anglo-Saxon times.
Dorchester and Thomas Hardy
A journey back 2,000 years with a walk around the Iron Age fort of Maiden Castle as it fell to the Romans. Then time to enjoy the county town of Dorchester with its wide choice of museums. After lunch we touch on the life of Thomas Hardy with visits to his last home at Max Gate and his local church, St Michael’s, where he was baptised and buried.
All departures except April:
Explore Wimborne’s maze of alleyways around the imposing minster. Don’t forget to seek out the chained library. An afternoon at nearby Kingston Lacy provides the contrast of an Italian palace in the Dorset countryside. Walk through to the woods to the Japanese Garden and visit the recently refurbished walled vegetable garden.
The grave of T E Lawrence and the beautifully etched windows of the church at Moreton are not to be missed. Next we explore Wimborne with its minster before crossing the Vale of Backmoor to visit the abbey ruins at Shaftesbury. Finally, Sturminster Newton, Hardy’s happiest home, offers a walk by the River Stour with an iconic mill to photograph.
Depart after a leisurely breakfast
Kingston Lacey image ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey
Lulworth Cove is a justifiably popular destination, with day-trippers and holiday-makers drawn by the stunning local scenery. The Cove itself is a near-perfect circle which has been carved by the soft rocks by the waves. A 20-minute walk along the cliff path will take you to Durdle Door, the area's other geological wonder. This impressive natural sea arch is developed in more resistant limestones. The free Heritage Centre next to the public car park is well worth a visit during your stay.
Facilities in Lulworth Cove are limited to a selection of pubs, cafés and souvenir shops. The nearest towns are Wareham, Dorchester and Weymouth, which all have a good selection of banks, chemists and supermarkets.
During your visit to Dorset you may enjoy visiting the following places of interest:
The Tank Museum
The Tank Museum at Bovington, 20 minutes' drive north of Lulworth Cove, houses a particularly impressive collection of tanks from around the world. Trace the history from the tank's origins in the First World War to the present day. www.tankmuseum.org
Situated just a couple of miles inland from the cove, Lulworth Castle is a 17th century mock medieval castle that was once the heart of an extensive estate. Having been gutted by fire in 1929 it was derelict for many years, but has since been completely renovated. www.lulworth.com/castle
The iconic ruins of Corfe Castle stand guard over a natural gap in the Purbeck Hills, about 30 minutes' drive from Lulworth. Dating from the 11th century it is now maintained by the National Trust. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/corfe-castle
Ride on this lovingly restored branch line through the glorious Purbeck countryside. Steam hauled trains run throughout the year. You may want to leave your car in the Park & Ride at Norden, about 30 minutes' drive from Lulworth, and use the railway to visit the attractive seaside resort of Swanage. www.swanagerailway.co.uk
Located near Wool, 20 minutes' drive north of Lulworth Cove, Monkey World is a great family attraction. Orginally set up to rescue mistreated monkeys from overseas, it is now home to a huge collection of primates of all shapes and sizes. www.monkeyworld.org
Brownsea Island is located in the middle of Poole Harbour – boats depart from Poole Quay and Sandbanks, about 40 minutes' drive from Lulworth Cove. The island is now a nature reserve, managed by the National Trust and one of last remaining places to spot red squirrels in the UK. Brownsea is also famous as the location of the world's first scout camp in 1907. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/brownsea-island
Weymouth is a fine Regency seaside resort with an ever-popular beach and bustling harbour.
Thomas Hardy’s Cottage
The writer Thomas Hardy was one of Dorset’s most celebrated residents who used the local towns and villages around Dorchester as the setting for many of his novels. His birthplace near Dorchester is around 30 minutes' drive away and now owned by the National Trust. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hardy-country
Athelhampton House & Gardens
Located near Dorchester, about 30 minutes' drive away, Athelhampton House is a fine Tudor building dating from 1485. The surrounding formal gardens are also impressive and were built between 1891 - 1899. www.athelhampton.co.uk
This fine country house and estate is located near Wimborne Minster, about 45 minutes' drive from Lulworth Cove. Dating from 1665, and now managed by the National Trust, it houses a fine collection of antiques, with many notable examples from the Middle East and Egypt. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/kingston-lacy
Kingston Lacey image ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey, Swanage Railway image © Brian Robert Marshall
Travel to Lulworth Cove
Our address is: West Lulworth House, Lulworth Cove, Dorset BH20 5RJ
We recommend getting the train to Wool and then a taxi transfer to West Lulworth House. However if you are planning on driving, please note that you can only park in a public car park. Please check the process below.
The nearest railway station is at Wool. For train times and route planning by train visit www.nationalrail.co.uk or phone 03457 48 49 50.
The 5 mile journey from Wool railway station takes approximately 15 minutes. Pre-booked taxis cost approx £13 per 4 seat taxi. The taxi company will arragen shared taxis wherever possible. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the West Lulworth House Manager.
The recommended route is via Bere Regis and Wool – although slightly longer this avoids the traffic through Bournemouth and Poole. From Bere Regis follow signs to Wool. At Wool cross the level crossing and turn left following signs to Lulworth Cove and West Lulworth. Continue for a further 4 miles to Lulworth Cove. As you enter Lulworth Cove Village, there is a slip road on your left to West Lulworth House. Park on the slip road if you would like to take advantage of our bag drop off service, which is available from 10am to 6.30pm, on arrival and departure days. You can then continue to the public car park at the end of the slip road to park your car.
This car park is free for HF Holidays’ guests as long as book your car in with House staff within 30 minutes of arriving, failure to do this could result in a fine from the Lulworth Estate.
Travelling from overseas
If you're travelling from Europe the most convenient airport is at Southampton. From Southampton Airport Parkway station (adjacent to the airport terminal) there are direct trains every hour to Wool - journey time 1hr 20mins. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for details.
For most guests, travelling to either London Heathrow or London Gatwick airport is the best option. See www.nationalrail.co.uk for onward connections by train to Wool.
Frances has been an enthusiastic student of English literature since primary school when a Mrs Darling sparked her interest! She has lived a very itinerant life with extended periods in the US and India. She worked as a fundraiser for charities in the developing world for many years and travelled widely with them.
Many years ago, she was involved in running a small theatre and even occasionally appeared on stage. Now she works as a Blue Badge guide, concentrating on literary tours and religious themes. As well as going to the iconic, obvious sites, she tries to include lesser known places and to entertain visitors with stories about the many people who are associated with an area - kings and queens, local legends, artists and writers.
She is also a keen hiker and tries to find routes that will allow her to visit some sort of literary shrine.
She was interesting, knowledgeable and stimulating. She was also friendly and created a good companionable feeling amongst our group.
Alban has spent a lifetime sharing his enthusiasm for literature with people of all ages: pupils in secondary schools, trainee teachers in a Faculty of Education and since 2012, a great many HF guests as well. He describes the three pillars of his life as his family, his football team and Shakespeare.
He also has a passion for travel and history, for mountains and moorland, for lakes and lochs, for landscapes and seascapes – as well as for HF leadership in Britain and Europe. After many years holidaying with HF as a walking guest, he is keen to ensure that those who travel with him enjoy their time together, explore new and interesting places and discover the fascinating stories always to be found there.
“Excellent. An impressive range of knowledge and a real love of the area and its history.”
Pat is a Blue Badge guide who has lived in Cornwall for over 20 years, and is fascinated by discovering history through the landscape, especially the southern regions of the UK, with their wealth of special stories, flora and fauna to be uncovered. Before retiring Pat was a special needs teacher in Cornwall and other parts of the country.
Pat has an excellent knowledge of the area and is a very good and likeable leader.
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Dates & Prices
We're sorry, there are no dates available for this holiday at the moment. Please check out our other tours and breaks or call our team on 0345 470 8558 to be notified of new dates as soon as they become available.
Prices are per person