Dorset Gardens Tour

Dorset Coast


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Activity types:

  • Coastal
  • Flora
  • Meadows & hills
From £944.00 - 7 nights


Prices are per person

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Holiday overview

An exciting tour from our property at Lulworth Lodge. We’ll visit an excellent mix of well known gardens, and some lesser known private gardens. Features include Abbotsbury subtropical garden which houses a fabulous collection of rare and exotic plants; the gardens of Minterne House, full of exotic plants brought back by the Himalayan plant collectors; plus the delightful gardens of Athelhampton House and Cranborne Manor.

Holiday highlights

  • Attractive formal gardens and extensive parkland at Kingston Lacy
  • Magnificent garden at Athelhampton surrounding the 15th century house
  • Compton Acres – the south’s finest historical gardens
  • Enjoy the seaside atmosphere at our location at Lulworth Cove

Great reasons to join us

  • Great value: all prices include Full Board en-suite accommodation, plus entrances to all gardens
  • Expert leader: we carefully select friendly and knowledgeable leaders for each holiday
  • Accommodation: enjoy high-quality accommodation and excellent food at our Country Houses
  • Sociability: we pride ourselves on the social atmosphere of our holidays – enjoy gardens together, eat together and relax together


Just a stone's throw from the beach at Lulworth Cove, Lulworth Lodge is a walkers lodge with      4-star Visit Britain Guest Accommodationmagnificent sea views from the private terrace.

As one of our smaller properties, it makes a comfortable and exclusive base for smaller groups.


We have 12 bedrooms at Lulworth Lodge, some with spectacular views to the sea.

Our classic bedrooms offer comfortable accommodation and an en-suite bathroom with bath or shower. They also have TV, hairdryer, and tea and coffee making facilities. Single rooms are available for an extra £8 per night.

You can enjoy extra space or exceptional views plus additional facilities including a towelling robe and complimentary slippers when you upgrade to a premium bedroom. Premium rooms are available at just £5 extra per person per night.    


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All our Country Houses are tailored to the needs of walkers and outdoor enthusiasts and have excellent boot and drying rooms.

Lulworth Lodge has a relaxed lounge area with open fireplace. There is also a bar and dining area. Free WiFi is available in the public rooms.

Outside the raised private terrace has seating with delightful views down to the cove.

Complimentary parking is available for guests in the public car park about 100 metres from Lulworth Lodge.


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All holidays at our Country Houses are Full Board with all meals included, from dinner on arrival to breakfast on the day of your departure.

Start your day with our extensive breakfast. Choose from a wide selection on the cold buffet and/or a full cooked breakfast. Maybe enjoy a lighter option of fruit and yoghurt followed by scrambled egg, go for porridge followed by a full English breakfast, or select something in between.

Choose from our famous self-select picnic lunches - everything you need to keep you going on a day outdoors. Your own choice of sandwiches is prepared to order, and you can add crisps and snacks, fruit, nuts, chocolate bars, sweets and biscuits as you wish.     

Our house-based Leisure Activities include an in-house lunch (generally soup, sandwiches etc).   

The relaxed dinner is a highlight of any stay at our Country Houses. With tables seating up to 10 and no seating plan, it offers a great opportunity to get to know your fellow guests. There is always a choice of dishes for every course, featuring good British cooking and often local specialities. A vegetarian option is always available.

All our Country Houses have a well-stocked bar serving local beers, wine and spirits.

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Friday: Arrival day

You can check in to your room from 2.30pm onwards. Please join us for afternoon tea at 4pm. All guests are invited – we’ll introduce your leader and welcome you to your holiday.

Saturday: Upton Country Park & Compton Acres

We begin at Upton Country Park near Poole, once a private residence now a public park with a collection of mature trees and fine walled gardens. We move on to Compton Acres, an exuberant showpiece featuring seven individual gardens in various styles, set amongst pine trees and heathers on an elevated site.

Sunday: Larmer Tree & Cranborne Manor

Larmer Tree is a perfect example of a High Victorian pleasure garden laid out by General Pitt Rivers, the archaeologist, still retaining many original features. In contrast, the gardens of Cranborne Manor date back to the 17th century, though with later additions. Mainly in formal style there are several ‘rooms’ set in mature hedges or walls, connected by avenues of trees.

Monday: Free day

A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House.

Tuesday: Dorset Athelhampton House & Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

Athelhampton House is a Tudor mansion with beautiful formal gardens. The gardens include water features, perennial and rose beds, and a topiary garden. Guests may choose to visit the house (admission not included). Later we visit Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens. Enjoying a very mild microclimate the gardens have a wide range of mature trees, shrubs and perennials laid out in informal style.

Wednesday: Knoll Gardens & Kingston Lacy

Knoll Gardens is a plantsman’s garden, created from the 1970s. In informal style the garden has many rare trees, shrubs and perennials, and collections of ornamental grasses. In the afternoon we visit Kingston Lacy. The house was built in the 18th century by Ralph Bankes in the French style. The grounds include formal gardens and extensive, informal parklands that feature a Japanese Garden, a fernery and woodland walks. Guests may also wish to visit the house (admission not included).

Thursday: Minterne Gardens & Mapperton

The valley around Minterne Gardens was first landscaped in the 18th century, with ideas from Capability Brown. The upper gardens include a fine collection of trees and shrubs, especially those from the Himalayas. The lower gardens, a chain of pools and streams, have many azaleas, ferns and waterside plants. Later we visit Mapperton, a formal garden in the Italianate style and set in a valley, alongside a beautiful Jacobean manor house surrounded by mature trees and with superb views.

Friday: Depart after a leisurely breakfast

We wish we could, but we can’t manage the weather, traffic jams or other venue’s operations, so if this holiday needs to change for those, or any other reasons, your leader will help smooth the way.

Local area

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 waves into the soft rocks. 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 has been carved from the harder chalk rocks. 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:

Children looking at an historic tankThe 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.



Lulworth Castle
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.

Corfe 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.

Steam locomotive at Swange StationSwanage Railway
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.



Group of chimps at Monkey WorldMonkey World
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.



Brownsea Island
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.

Weymouth is a fine Regency seaside resort with an ever-popular beach and bustling harbour.

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.

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.

Imposing fascade of Kingston Lacey houseKingston Lacy
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.




Kingston Lacey image ©National Trust Images/Chris Lacey, Swanage Railway image© Brian Robert Marshall


Lulworth Lodge, Lulworth Cove, Dorset BH20 5RQ

By train: The nearest railway station is at Wool. For train times and general rail enquiries visit or call 03457 484950 (from outside the UK call +44 20 7278 5240).

By taxi: The 5 mile journey from Wool railway station takes approximately 10 minutes. Taxis cost approx £12 per taxi. Every year we negotiate a pre-booked rate for these journeys. Details of our current recommended taxi company and rates will be sent to you with your booking. We recommend pre-booking your taxi and the taxi company will arrange shared taxis wherever possible. The return taxi journey can be arranged on your behalf by the Lulworth Lodge Manager.

By car: 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, turn in to the public car park at the turning circle. Park your car here. This car park is free for HF Holidays’ guests. Pick up a parking permit from Lulworth Lodge. Exit the car park on foot by the Heritage Centre and follow the road towards the sea. Lulworth Lodge is 50 yards down this road on the left hand side. 

To help you plan your journey, use


Harry Mycock

Harry works both hands-on and at management/board level in sectors associated with horticulture, the landscape and education. Part-time, he teaches Garden Design and Horticulture degree students in a broad range of business and landscape-related subjects. Harry leads Garden Tours and Walking holidays for HF holidays and enjoys sharing his knowledge of the landscape, gardens, their design and history. He knows from experience of this vast field that there is something new to learn from each other at every turn. During his Garden Tours, Harry sets the pace so that there is time to stand and stare and soak it all in. 




Date & Rating Customer Review HF Holidays says
27 May 2016, 8:02 a.m.

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Service review:

The food was excellent. The choice of having a smaller portion of food is a very good idea. Walkers need more than those on special interest holidays. The staff were friendly, efficient and nothing was too much trouble for them. Excellent leader input. Coach driver very obliging and friendly.

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I have been on many HF holidays, but this was definitely the best in all respects.
23 May 2016, 9:55 a.m.

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A good place to stay,staff helpful but always seem to rushing to complete a task

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An excellent place to stay, very friendly and helpful staff,best food I have had .
27 May 2015, 8:40 a.m.

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Service review:

Always amongst such friendly leaders, guests and staff. Houses in lovely settings. Activities are well thought out and food is brilliant.

Product review:

Lulworth Lodge is a delightful place, tastefully refurbished, stunning location and a cosy venue for the 'other activity' group.
Thank you for your review of HF Holidays' new Lulworth Lodge. We're so pleased you had a good time. Don't forget we have 19 other Country Houses in the UK.

HF Holidays Ltd.

Dates & Prices

Date Description Nights Brochure price Buy today for Book
12 May 2017 MHGDT - Dorset Gardens Tour - Lulworth Lodge 7 £1,019.00 £944.00 Special Early Booking offer - £75.00 off pp Book Now

Prices are per person


  • Standard single room: (2016) £8 per night; (2017) no supplement
  • Premium single room: £15 per night (2017 only)
  • Premium twin/double room: (2016) £5 per person per night; (2017) £10 per person per night
  • Non-member associate fee: (2016) £5 per person; (2017) £10 per person

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