48 hours in... Bridport in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 18:51 21 September 2010 | UPDATED: 17:51 20 February 2013

48 hours in…  Bridport in Dorset

48 hours in… Bridport in Dorset

James Kingston explores a town, once at the heart of the rope- and net-making industries, and now at the forefront of promoting delicious Dorset produce

48 hours in Bridport

James Kingston explores a town, once at the heart of the rope- and net-making industries, and now at the forefront of promoting delicious Dorset produce

Heres a bargain! A short break in Bridport also means a visit to West Bay, the true port of the River Brit, barely a mile away. West Bay is a major gateway to the Jurassic Coast, with its famous sandstone East Cliff, busy harbour and marina where children can spend many a happy hour crab fishing.

Stroll around the town
In Bucky Doo Square in South Street, the octagonal carved centrepiece depicts Bridport past, present and future. The handsome red brick Town Hall was built in 1786 and The Greyhound is one of Bridports old coaching inns. Wander down South Street, past the Arts Centre (formerly the Wesleyan Chapel) and Bridport Museum, which is housed in a beautiful Tudor town house, and look out for the wide alleyways where outworkers made Bridports traditional ropes and nets. After the Tourist Information Centre on South Street, the road outside The Woodman is very wide; this is where Bridports market was held in Saxon times. Stroll past St Marys Church and the Friends Meeting House (Quakers), until you reach Bridports oldest secular building, The Chantry, endowed as a priests house in 1368; its pigeon loft provided fresh meat and an income for the priest.

Four things to take home

Caroline Parkins at Leakers Bakery in East Street invites you to a daily tasting of bread and cakes. Its geological layered Jurassic slice, with its tasty intrusions of apricots, dates and chocolate chunks, is a best seller. (01308 423296)
Over the road, Bridgets Market, run by Dorset girl Jo Nester and her husband, John, for 11 years, is famous for its local fruit and veg including delicious local apples and pears from Elwell Fruit Farm in nearby Weytown. (01308 427096)
Round the corner in Bucky Doo Square, Bellas is another family business, run for the last five years by mum Forbes Grigg, daughters Kirsty and Clare Grigg and Karen Kirton, with help from sisters Becca and Charlotte. On offer are a huge range of freshly made sandwiches, baguettes and Dorset apple cake made by Jessicas Farmhouse Cakes in Bridport. (01308 424343)
Terri Foxwell, manager of Tourist Information in South Street, is gearing up for Dorset Food Week (Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 October), when their shelves will be stocked with local produce including biscuits from Moores, jams and chutneys from Forest Products as well as Bridport mugs from Alleyna Studio, and Keep it Local hessian bags to carry it all home in.
(01308 424901/ westdorset.com)

Things to do
Browse Bridports markets
Granted its Charter by Henry III in 1253, there are weekly (Wednesday and Saturday) markets throughout the year, from 8am until mid afternoon, with stalls selling everything from food and flowers to paintings and books. The Saturday market includes lots of antiques and bric-a-brac stalls in South Street. The Farmers Market is held on the second Saturday of the month in the Arts Centre. Information 01297 678318
The Vintage Market is held on the last Sunday of every month at St Michaels Estate in the old ropemakers factory buildings, 11am-4pm. This area is rapidly gaining a reputation as the Artists and Vintage Quarter, and market browsers enjoy a variety of retro and bric-a-brac stalls, antiques shops and vintage clothing stores, music and food stalls. oldalbion.co.uk

Take in a bit of history
Bridport Museum in South Street includes exhibits about Bridports historic rope- and net-making trade. Open into October from 10am-5pm, with free entry. (01308 458703/bridportmuseum.co.uk)

Quench your thirst
Palmers Brewery Tours is the oldest working thatched brewery in England and has been producing beer continuously since 1794. The Palmer brothers, John and Robert, acquired the business in 1896 and great grandsons John and Cleeves Palmer continue to make the delicious ales appreciated by local enthusiasts. The daily 11am tour runs from Easter to September. (Bookings 01308 427500)

Eating out
Bridport is well-known for leading the way in promoting and using fresh local produce. From Tanners Bar and Kernow Cornish Pasty shop in West Street to The Tiger Inn up Barrack Street, and from Beach and Barnicott at the top end of South Street to The Woodman pub at the other, the variety of eateries in Bridport is enormous. Here are just a few:
The Green Yard Caf in Barrack Street won Taste of the West Best Caf/Tearoom of the Year in 2008 and Gold in 2009. Run by Elizabeth McNeice and Beverley Capewell, the cafs philosophy is to create delicious locally sourced seasonal meals, divine desserts and fabulous cakes. At The Bull in East Street, Head Chef Marc Montgomery, formerly of Marco Pierre Whites Talkhouse in Oxford, runs a busy kitchen, crafting a daily menu from top-quality local produce, from moules-frites (a Wednesday night institution in Bridport) to lavish celebration meals or morning coffee and cake. To quaff a pint of local Palmers ale try the Market House, a family-run pub in West Street with a grown-up ambience and lovely courtyard garden, where food is locally sourced and homemade pies are a speciality. In West Bay the accent is on traditional fish and chips from an array of harbourside chalet outlets, but theres also The West Bay Inn in Station Road, the Bridport Arms Hotel close by the harbour and the George Hotel.

Transport to and around Bridport:
Buses: First CoastlinX53 runs along the Jurassic Coast until the end of October, calling at both Bridport and West Bay. Other major routes include First 31, 253/753, and Sureline 73 from Maiden Newton.
Tourist Information: South Street. 01308 424901 and westdorset.com

Diary dates
Saturday 23 to Sunday 31 October
Dorset Food Week
A celebration of all things mouth-wateringly and irresistibly Dorset, focusing on the fabulous food and drink that is produced within and from the landscape of Dorset. For details of events 01305 215103/dorsetfoodweek.com
Friday 29 October to Sunday 7 November
Bridport Literary Festival
This years glittering literary line-up includes Jonathan Powell, Andrew Graham-Dixon, Matthew Parris, Zoe Heller, Peter Snow and Daisy Goodwin, while poet and Bridport Prize judge Michael Laskey leads a masterclass for budding poets. More details from bridportprize.com

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