Bridport and West Dorset Cottages
Famously dubbed the ‘Broadchurch Riviera’ in the wake of the hit TV whodunnit that starred David Tennant, Olivia Coleman and Jodie Whittaker, the new Doctor Who, Bridport has welcomed the influx of metropolitan visitors with the same easy-going bonhomie that has long characterised the area.
A short distance to the south at the mouth of the River Brit is the harbour of West Bay. Historically its main function was to export the produce of Bridport’s rope making industry and import materials such as coal, gravel and timber, but as such trade declined the arrival of the railway in the mid-19th century gave West Bay a new lease of life as a seaside resort.
With nearby towns such as Lyme Regis, Beaminster, Charmouth and Sherborne, in recent years West Dorset has emerged as a magnet for tourists looking for unspoilt countryside, top quality local arts and crafts and some of the best food and drink the county can offer.
What is there to see and do in Bridport and West Dorset?
Bridport is a bustling market town with a plethora of independent shops, several proactive arts venues, a wealth of highly regarded local food producers, well-established agricultural shows and the internationally noted annual hat festival – it’s easy to see why so many urbanites fall in love with Bridport’s near-perfect amalgam of all that’s great about Dorset’s towns, countryside and coastline.
East Beach is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and forms one end of Chesil Beach that runs eastwards for 18 miles towards Portland. Its steep, distinctive yellow cliffs are further echoed at Burton Bradstock just along the coast and a popular destination all year round as a starting point for seaside walkers and countryside ramblers. The annual Spring Tide food festival is held on the National Trust beach.
A few miles inland from Bridport, the handsome town of Beaminster owes much of its provenance to the textiles industry, most notably the manufacture of linen made from the flax grown locally that also underpinned rope making in Bridport, and woollens from the sheep kept by surrounding hill farmers.
When actor Martin Clunes bought Buckham Farm near Beaminster in 2007 he discovered he had also acquired an ancient charter that permits the owner to hold an annual fair, which he now does every August in aid of local charities.
The serene town of Sherborne with its distinctive yellow stone 15th century buildings was once the capital of Wessex. The castle, once the home of Sir Walter Raleigh, and the impressive Abbey offer plenty of interest, as do the bustling town centre shops.
Where can I eat and drink in Bridport and West Dorset?
Whatever you bring to Bridport and West Dorset make sure to pack your healthiest appetite – it’s a gourmand’s heaven!
Bridport itself is home to the almost routinely excellent Bull Hotel. Built in 1535 it was the scene of a murder during the ill-fated Monmouth Rebellion and played host to Princess Victoria in 1834, but these days is far more likely to welcome TV and film actors, as well as the many locals and visitors drawn by its superb food.
Simpler but no less tasty fare can be found in the distressed chic of the Soulshine café, or the fascinating foyer lounge of the Electric Palace cinema and theatre, while the Olive Tree offers a new take on classic Italian dishes.
West Bay has witnessed a surge in tourists as hungry for glimpses of the Broadchurch locations as they are for the excellent food on offer by the beach and quayside. Arguably the queen of the scene is Rachel’s seafood shack with its delicious platters, chowder and fish and chips. The two-level Riverside Restaurant is billed as Dorset’s premier seafood restaurant and provides plenty of evidence to back up the claim.
In the old railway station The Station Kitchen has been a huge hit, again with local seafood and quality produce, while Seagulls Restaurant offers quaint, rustic, casual dining at the seaside.On the beach itself is the superb Watch House Café, sister location to the superbly quirky Hive Beach Café at Burton Bradstock – both operate a strict first come first served policy and no advance bookings are taken. The same family has just opened The Club House bungalow restaurant in nearby West Bexington.
Perched on the cliffs above the Hive is the nationally celebrated Seaside Boarding House. Elegant and relaxed it offers a sophisticated but accessible menu made all the more tasty by the uninterrupted views out to sea.
A short drive inland, Beaminster is not only home to the critically acclaimed Brassica restaurant and mercantile owned by Canteen founder Cass Titcombe and his wife Louise Chidgey, but also the winningly simple Cilla and Camilla café with its lunches, teas, coffees and cakes.
Rated by Country Life magazine no less as the nation’s finest manor house, Mapperton is indeed a stunning house and may be familiar to film fans from its starring role in the recent adaptation of Far From the Madding Crowd. A visit is richly rewarded with excellent fare in the Sawmill Café made with free-range and local ingredients… save room for a slice of Dorset Apple Cake!
Take a little time to browse through our selection of holiday cottages in Bridport and it's neighbouring villages. We’re certain you’ll find something just right for a truly special Dorset holiday.
Due to high demand from our guests, we have recently started looking for properties in this area. If you have a property and are considering letting, please get in touch with Claire, our property manager on 01929 448694 or email email@example.com.