Mary Anning lived in Lyme Regis during the 19th century. She was a very famous fossil collector, palaeontologist and dealer and the pretty town of Lyme Regis has a museum dedicated to her work. The town also has a famous harbour wall called The Cobb, which has been featured in many films. Most recently the film Ammonite about the life of Mary Anning was filmed in Lyme Regis. Visitors and locals enjoy the town which has a small beach, good cafes and restaurants and is a great day out.
Dorset is a county in the southwest of England. It’s famous for its unusual coastline, part of which is known as the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This part of the coast contains many fossils and was an area used by fossil hunters such as the pioneering Mary Anning to prove that the earth was millions of years old.
The fascinating Jurassic Coast rock formations at Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Stair Hole are a popular destination for those visiting Dorset. A walker's go to location, you can walk to Lulworth Cove along the South West Coast Path national trail. Nearby there is a fossilised forest and also the rocky shore of Kimmeridge, famous for fossils.
Dorset is also know for its sandy beaches, examples of which are Weymouth, Poole and Swanage. The exclusive area around Sandbanks is worth a visit as it provides easy access to the famous and beautiful Compton Acres garden. From Sandbanks there are ferries to take you on the short trip to Brownsea Island.
The coastal resort of Bournemouth was originally a haven for smugglers, and now a thriving seaside resort with manicured gardens, fashionable boutiques and one of the best sandy beaches in England. You can visit the Oceanarium, the Church where Frankenstein author Mary Shelley lies in rest, and the traditional pier with a theatre perched at the end. Nearby Boscombe is a surfer’s paradise.
The beautiful town of Christchurch dates from Saxon times. There are fascinating museums including the Museum of Electricity and Christchurch Priory, the longest parish church in the United Kingdom.
Inland there are many interesting and historic towns to visit such as Sherborne with its beautiful vaulted roofed abbey and Kingston Lacy, an elegant 17th century house and garden.
The little town of Corfe Castle houses the remains of a spectacular Norman castle and the 15th century Athelhampton House boasts a classic English garden and is said to be haunted by the ghost of an ape.
There are numerous nature reserves in Dorset managed by the Dorset Wildlife Trust including Brownsea Island (one of the few places in England where you can see red squirrels), Lytchett Bay in Poole (managed in conjunction with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) and the flower rich grasslands at Kingcombe Meadows.
The New Forest national park is home to famous moorland wild ponies – and seeing them wandering around is a spectacular sight. You can also see deer (the area was William the Conqueror's hunting ground). The town of Lyndhurst is a good stop-off for a spot of shopping, lunch or browsing the art galleries.
There are many beautiful gardens to visit in Dorset, the most famous is arguably Compton Acres in Poole. Lots to explore here including the Italian, Heather, Japanese and Water Gardens. Athelhampton House and Gardens is a fine example of a Tudor Manor House. The gardens, remodelled in 1891, follow differing themes. Other gardens include Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens, Knoll Gardens and Bennetts Water Gardens with its Monet style Japanese Bridge.