Roam, Relax, Unwind
Rolling downs and age-old coppices, river meadows or open heath; East Devon and West Dorset’s countryside is a natural haven of peace and tranquillity.
Hedges filled with flowers: fire orange, fuschia pink and lemon yellow. Meandering country lanes, rugged clifftops and perfect lush meadows... there’s no better place for a picnic.
The unspoilt Devon market town of Axminster is surrounded by stunning countryside and is a town filled with charm and character. Located on the River Axe, the village lies in the beautiful Axe Valley, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Situated a few miles inland from the Jurassic Coast the town boasts a beautiful Saxon church which stands on Minster Green in the centre of town.
Made famous for its carpets, the original Axminster factory was opened in 1755 by Thomas Whitty and "Axminsters" are still made in the town by Axminster Carpets. Celebrity chef and TV presenter Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall purchased an old inn that once provided the ballroom of the town, and converted it into his very first River Cottage Canteen and Deli (an organic produce shop/market and canteen). He also has his River Cottage H.Q. nearby in the Axe valley.
The picturesque market town of Beaminster has over 200 listed buildings and enjoys designation as an important conservation area. With a rich selection of local specialist shops and superb restaurants Beaminster has a large number of attractions from historical sites, stunning gardens to explore and beautiful walking countryside.
The vibrant Saxon market town of Bridport, with its Georgian buildings and 13th-century church, is sometimes described as "Notting Hill on Sea" and has set the scene for several TV programmes, including River Cottage and Broadchurch. The fantastic monthly farmers' markets are a tradition stretching back centuries, showcasing the best of local, often organic, produce. But if you don't catch one of these you can still go along to one of the twice-weekly street markets, and pick yourself up a distinctive Bridport Market bag as a souvenir.
There is a thriving art scene in Bridport, and the newly restored art-deco Electric Palace theatre, with its celebrity patron list and well-known local chef, is a wonderful way to spend an evening, as are the many delightful restaurants and pubs (try the acclaimed Riverside Restaurant in West Bay for gorgeous seafood).
Once famous for its rope-making (including the hangman's rope, giving rise to the phrase "stabbed by a Bridport dagger"!), the town is rich in history, and this can be explored at both the Bridport Museum and the Local History Centre.
There is plenty happening in this bustling town, with the Literary Festival (attracting many renowned writers), the Food Festival, the Round Table Beer Festival and the RNLI Raft Race (in the basin of the River Brit) to name just a few. And the August Carnival, which includes a fun-fair, torchlight procession and live music, is a family event not to be missed.
Bridport was originally a fishing town, and the Harbour at West Bay (one mile away) was originally called Bridport Harbour, but was renamed in the 19th century. Like most of the Jurassic Coast, West Bay is popular with fossil hunters because of its loose clay cliffs, and is sited on the pretty, pebbly Chesil Beach, an 18-mile stretch which is separated from the mainland for much of its length by the Fleet Lagoon. Here you will find walks and scenery in abundance to satisfy the most adventurous visitors.
The Dorset village of Chideock is located on the main A35 between Bridport and Lyme Regis. The World Heritage Jurassic Coastline and Seatown, with its excellent pub The Anchor Inn, are less than a mile away and there are plenty of walks to enjoy the beautiful surroundings, both to the coastline, along the coastal path to Golden Cap, and inland amongst the thatched cottages and farmland that surround the village. Chideock also has a pub, the George Inn, as well as two small shops including a farm shop.
The ancient market town of Colyton with its winding streets and river running through its centre sits in the heart of Devons' Axe Valley. Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this Medieval town was once a thriving centre of the wool trade. Colyton has a good selection of shops, including a butcher, chemist, garden centre and a varied choice of pubs and tea rooms. Its location makes it a perfect setting out point for walking, cycling and exploring the surrounding coast and countryside.
Hawkchurch is a beautiful Devon village situated on the border with Dorset, around 4 miles north of Lyme Regis. There are many working farms in the area, and the parish church of St. John the Baptist dates from Saxon times and current building is estimated to have been erected in the 15th century. There is a popular village pub, "The Old Inn", which is a traditional coaching house and has been on the site since 1543. There is a community village shop, and Axminster, with its wider range of shops is just a short drive away.
Kilmington is a pretty and well-kept village just off the A35, about 2 miles outside the market town of Axminster. The village is well serviced with a small shop and post office at its centre, as well as having an excellent farm shop providing local produce and a small coffee shop. There are two local pubs in the village - The New Inn, a pet-friendly establishment with a large beer garden for those sunny afternoons, offers great food and a warm welcome. The Old Inn is an award-winning pub, offering a fresh menu each day using local produce, as well as a range of local beers and draught lagers.
The area is a haven for walkers, with the gentle climb to the top of Shute Beacon offering stunning views over the Axe Valley.
With easy access to the A35, a short drive will take you to a number of coastal towns on the Jurassic Coast. If you really fancy a treat, even closer is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's River Cottage Canteen, located in the centre of Axminster.
Morcombelake is a small village located on the A35 between Lyme Regis and Bridport, in touching distance of Golden Cap and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Home to the famous 'Dorset Knob' biscuit, the village has a small store with post office and an excellent farm shop, Felicity's.
The beautiful hamlet of Monkton Wyld nestles amongst the rolling hills of Dorsets' Countryside just five minutes by car from The Jurassic Coast. It is ideally placed to explore the beautiful countryside and many woodland walks that criss-cross the local area. Worthy of mention are the stunning views over Marshwood Vale and the Dorset coastline. Lamberts castle, a Medieval hill fort, is just a 10 minute drive inland.
Whitchurch Canonicorum lies in the heart of the Marshwood Vale in the Dorset countryside. With its beautiful Church (unique in being the only parish church in England containing the bones of its patron saint) and local pub serving good food its a beautiful location in close proximity to the coast.
Wootton Fitzpaine is a tranquil Dorset village which lies approximately 3 miles from Lyme Regis in a small side valley of the River Char, close to the Marshwood Vale.