12 of the quirkiest things to see and do in Dorset
PUBLISHED: 11:00 15 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:48 13 August 2020
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From a cheese racing challenge to hundreds of guitars on a beach, Visit Dorset share some of the more unusual events and places to explore in the county
1. Walking with llamas
For a Dorset day out that you will remember for all the right reasons, how about going for a walk with a llama? As well as providing some unusual company, these beautiful agile creatures will also carry your picnic. UK Llamas, based at Mosterton near Beaminster, offer routes that range from challenging treks along the Jurassic Coast to strolling through local lanes.
2. Get to know an ancient giant
Dorset's ancient landscape offers many fascinating stories and intriguing legends. The pretty village of Cerne Abbas has a particularly famous and very visible resident - the impressive, club-wielding Cerne Giant. Carved into the chalk hills, this priapic fertility symbol has been attracting sightseers to this area for centuries.
3. Art exhibits in a quarry
Tout Quarry on the Isle of Portland has been transformed from working quarry into a flourishing nature reserve with a twist: the 40 acre site features a series of artworks that have been etched into the stone, creating an enchanting trail of stone carvings.
4. Explore a ghost village
In 1943 residents of Tyneham, a village on the Dorset coast, were evacuated to enable the military to conduct 28 days of training exercises. Sadly, the residents were never permitted to return home and now only the church and school house remain intact, offering a poignant memorial for visitors to explore on days when the Lulworth ranges are open.
Find out which days at tynehamopc.org.uk
5. Step back to fifties Wimborne
Wimborne Model Town is based on a representation of 1950's Wimborne at 1/10th of the scale. With hundreds of buildings and shop fronts lovingly recreated in detail the model town features realistic bell chimes from the mini Minster Church of St. Cuthberga (wimborne-modeltown.com). Make sure to include a visit to the real Minster nearby, home to one of the world's last remaining chained libraries.
6. Marvel at a mysterious pool
The Blue Pool at Furzebrook on the Isle of Purbeck has extraordinary colour changing properties. The fine suspended particles in the water of this former clay pit diffract light in different ways to produce a spectrum of different colours from green to turquoise. Children should keep an eye out for the magic fairy doors installed across the scenic walking trails and will enjoy seeing The Wareham Bears which features 200 plus miniature dressed bears set within their own house. There is also a lovely tea room and museum showcasing the history of the clay industry in the Purbeck area.
7. For rock gods and goddesses…
If you're a budding Jimi Hendrix or Joan Jett how about joining more than a thousand other amateur strummers for Guitars on the Beach at Lyme Regis. Billed as the UK's largest guitar festival, the event pays tribute to influential icons in June.
8. For mad hatters…
Bridport Hat Festival attracts thousands of attendees sporting the most weird, wacky and wonderful headwear to compete in a range of hat-themed events. Expect quirky crafts, unusual performances and hat displays on 5 September.
9. For heat lovers…
The Great Dorset Chilli Festival is an event for those who go gaga for a Dorset Naga - one of the world's hottest chillies. Held at Wimborne St Giles over the weekend of 1 - 2 August, it is a haven for chilli enthusiasts.
10. For the brave or bonkers…
One of Dorset's more eccentric events is the World Nettle Eating Championships, held at The Bottle Inn, Marshwood in West Dorset. The annual event, usually held in July, welcomes participants from all over the world to eat as many nettles as they can stomach! Could you beat last year's winner who ate 48 metres of stinging nettles in just an hour?
11. For hardy cheese lovers…
The Gold Hill Cheese Race takes place on one of Dorset's most iconic streets. Brave participants race up the steep cobbled hill in Shaftesbury carrying an extremely heavy 14 inch block of locally-made cheese. The annual event pays tribute to the rich heritage of dairy farming and cheese making in the Blackmore Vale area. Get on your marks with your truckle on Sunday 3 May.
12. For fans of the extraordinary…
Inside Out Festival is a distinctive display of extraordinary events in unique places across the county. During the festival, Dorset's most stunning landscapes are transformed into mesmeric experiences ranging from circus displays in the countryside to live music and fireworks on the coast. Discover more in September. Visit: facebook.com/InsideOutDorset