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Villages in Dorset: 10 of the prettiest places to visit

PUBLISHED: 09:58 22 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:58 22 May 2018

Abbotsbury, Dorset by ralfgosch

Abbotsbury, Dorset by ralfgosch

Ralf Gosch

Dorset villages are some of the most beautiful in England – think winding lanes, thatched cottages and a cosy pub or welcoming tea room. We suggest ten of the prettiest villages to visit in the county

1. Ashmore

Dorset’s highest village sits 700 feet above sea level and is recognisable due to the circular Ashmore pond surrounded by chocolate box cottages. The Domesday Book mentions Ashmore as ‘Aisemere’ which translates to ‘pool where the ash trees grow’. Expect to see manicured lawns and Instagram-worthy homes when visiting this glorious Dorset village.

Don’t miss: ‘Filly Loo’ is the annual celebration of the longest day. It takes place on the Friday closest to June 21 each year. Morris Dancers and live country music descend on Ashmore for this midsummer festivity.

2. Abbotsbury

With its sandy coloured cottages, this quaint little hamlet wouldn’t look out of place in the Cotswolds. However it can be found right here in Dorset, just a fossil’s throw away from Chesil beach and the Jurassic coast. This is true Thomas Hardy country with Abbotsbury the inspiration behind many of his books. It was also the filming location for a number of period productions including ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’ starring Carey Mulligan.

Don’t miss: Abbotsbury Tea Rooms for a feast of Dorset apple cake, crab sandwiches and cream tea.

3. Charminster, Dorchester

The village of Charminster is characterised by ivy-coated, pastel-coloured period homes, winding roads through wild flowers and that famous Dorset hatch. Not to be confused with the urban suburb of Bournemouth with the same moniker, this Charminster is rural and has a true village feel whilst the amenities of Dorchester are just a short drive away.

Don’t miss: There isn’t a lot to do here but that’s the beauty of Charminster. Pack a picnic, take a walk and absorb the peace and quiet of it all.

4. Piddlehinton

This bucolic village epitomises everything quintessentially English. From the name ‘Piddlehinton’ (which sounds as though it could be straight from a Beatrix Potter or Enid Blyton book) and the clear water stream trickling through the centre, to the village green awash with daffodils in the spring; it truly is a sight to behold. There is a tight-knit community feeling here making it a popular place for families and the elderly to live.

Don’t miss: A pub lunch at The Thimble, especially in the height of summer when you can sit out in the beer garden soaking up the sun.

5. Milton Abbas

Milton Abbas is easily identifiable due to the fairytale cottages adorning the high street through the village. Uniformed in size and nature, and unique by their colourful front doors, these houses all have large open lawns and are broken up by the occasional blossom tree. The house names give subtle clues to the historic residents that once inhabited them (blacksmiths, brewers, and the like).

Don’t miss: The Milton Abbas Street Fair is reflective of the historic nature of the village. Villagers dress up in period costume and there are plenty of arts and crafts, food and drink stalls, live entertainment and money raised for charity. The next fair will be 27 July 2019.

6. Puddletown

Formerly known as ‘Piddletown’, Puddletown can be found nestled in the Piddle Valley. It has plenty of history behind it (it dates back as far as the Bronze Age) and the village most notably provided the inspiration for the fictional place of Weatherbury in Thomas Hardy’s novel, ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’. These days it’s just a really lovely place to live. There are lots of period properties with cottage windows and rose bush gardens – perfect for a country ramble and an afternoon of dream-house spotting in Dorset.

Don’t miss: Dinner at The Blue Vinny. We like the sound of the Jurassic coast sirloin steak with chunky chips.

7. Pimperne

Pimperne is a village with an accolade of awards under its belt. The village won ‘Best Large Village 2011’ in the ‘Dorset Best Kept Village’ competition and for those lucky enough to live here, this will come as no surprise. Pimperne still has a picturesque and well-kept appearance to support this previous triumph.

Don’t miss: The flora and fauna of the local gardens and the cosy flintstone cottages dotted throughout the village. We would love to take a peek inside!

8. Corfe Castle

Overlooked by the thousand-year-old ruins of Corfe Castle, the historic village of the same name has character and charm in abundance. From terraced cottages to higgledy-piggledy thatched homes, there are plenty of gorgeous buildings here to fall in love with – all with the Disney-esque view of the castle in the distance.

Don’t miss: The castle of course. Owned by the National Trust, the castle was the inspiration for Kirrin Castle which featured in the fist Famous Five book Five on a Treasure Island (1942) as well as Bedknobs and Broomsticks. These days you can take the family for a day out here for £23.75.

9. Sydling St Nicholas

Nestled within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the village of Sydling St Nicholas matches up to its delightful surroundings. The population of the hamlet is very small (less than five hundred residents at last count); only a handful of people are lucky enough to experience the daily beauty of this village.

Don’t miss: Hog Cliff Nature Reserve is next door to Sydling St Nicholas and provides the perfect setting for an afternoon stroll amongst wildflowers and butterflies - and a bit of bird-spotting too.

10. Shaftesbury

Yes, yes, we know Shaftesbury is technically a small market town but we couldn’t miss it off the list as it’s so lovely. The steep, cobbled Gold Hill has to be one of the most famous and photographed streets in England. It was immortalised by Ridley Scott’s (Gladiator) 1973 commercial ‘Boy on Bike’ for Hovis and the stunning views of Thomas Hardy’s Blackmore Vale are well worth the huff and puff to the top.

Don’t miss: Gold Hill Museum celebrates everything great about Shaftesbury and Dorset; from its Saxon roots to Dorset’s oldest fire engine – even a mummified Dorset cat (yes, really).

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