Dorset Gardens Tour
Code: LHGDTPrint page
Meadows & hills
The laid-back county of Dorset is home to a wonderful mix of well-known, ever-popular gardens and some real hidden gems just waiting to be discovered by horticulture fans. Highlights include Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, the Capability Brown-inspired Minterne House gardens and the delightful gardens of Athelhampton House and Cranborne Manor.
- 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
- High quality Full Board en-suite accommodation and excellent food in our Country House
- The guidance and services of our knowledgeable HF Holidays’ leader, ensuring you get the most from your holiday
- All essential transport to and from gardens on a comfortable, good-quality mini-coach with PA system
- All garden admissions costs with the exception of the National Trust and English Heritage gardens (please note this does not include entrance to stately homes/houses, for which there is a separate admission fee)
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.
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.
Check-in starts from 2.30pm (Best and Better rooms from 1pm). All guests are invited to join us for afternoon tea where we’ll introduce your leader.
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.
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.
A free day for you to explore the local area or to relax in the Country House.
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.
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 Italianate 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).
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.
Depart after a leisurely breakfast.
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.
Harry’s first Holiday with HF was on Arran in 1971. He has been a walks leader since 2007 and a garden tours leader since 2010. Harry has holidayed at all the current HF houses having led from most of them, too.
On top of a lifelong love of gardens and being a passionate gardener himself, Harry has also taught Garden Design and Horticulture at degree level for several years and is one of only a small number of Chartered Horticulturist in the UK. Harry has a Masters in Horticulture from the Royal Horticultural Society. He is also an RHS Flower Shows volunteer, providing guidance on RHS Gardens at shows such as the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show and RHS Chelsea Flower Show where he has been involved in delivering several medal winning gardens. He is also a specialist garden inspector for the National Trust.
Harry enjoys sharing his knowledge of the landscape, gardens and 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.
Harry does everything well - he is prepared, knowledgeable, considerate, communicative - he's the best.
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
- Non-member associate fee: £10 per person