PUBLISHED: 15:21 17 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:31 20 February 2013
Bridport has been called Notting Hill on Sea, but for Jemima Elliot this small market town doesn't need a namesake because it has a vibrant flavour and character all of its own.
Bridport has been called Notting Hill on Sea, but for Jemima Elliot this small market town doesn't need a namesake because it has a vibrant flavour and character all of its own
1.Bridport Food Week
Taste buds at the ready! You will need to pencil in your diary the week of 25th October to 2nd November as this countywide event will be celebrating food and drink that is deliciously Dorset. This year's event will be slightly different in that each day will have a 'hotspot' with the day's activities having their own character showcasing the food, farming, landscape and culture from that particular area. For more information go to www.westdorset.com
2. Apple Day
An apple a day keeps the doctor away... so for all of you apple lovers the weekend of Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October is for you! With this weekend dedicated to the apple, and with the bumper harvest this year, there will be much to celebrate. Growers from Elwell Fruit Farm are hosting the event and will be more than happy to pass on helpful growing tips, as well as the chance to try all the delicious varieties. Open from10am-5pm on Saturday, and from10.30am-4.30pm on Sunday. Telephone Grove Nurseries on (01308 422654.
3. Eating and Shopping
Bridport may be small, but that doesn't mean that the residents don't like to shop - or eat! You can easily put on a few calories just admiring cakes and delicacies through the bakery windows in Bridport - but I have always found it better to eat than to window shop!
As well as a selection of well-known high-street shops, Bridport has a wide variety of independently-owned outlets. And the town has a market every Wednesday and Saturday, come rain or shine, so there is always plenty to help part you from your money, from local produce to Vietnamese lacquer-ware, and Mediterranean olives to second-hand books. And if that isn't enough, every second Saturday of the month there is a fabulous farmers' market offering the best of local produce.
4. Walk and Cycle
Much of Dorset's countryside is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty including most of West Dorset, so to make the most of it the West Dorset Pedal comprises five cycle routes that have been designed to make the most of the local area. Available online at www.westdorset.com or from Bridport's Tourist Information Centre, these beautifully designed leaflets get you out and about enjoying the countryside.
If you prefer going at a slower pace then why not arm yourself with a Trail map from Bridport's Tourist Information Centre. There are four trails in all which will take you about the town, or if your legs fancy a longer walk there is an 'Across the Fields' trail down to West Bay. Bridport TIC is at 47 South Street. (01308 424901.
5. The Electric Palace
Designed by local Bridport architects Messrs Frederick Cooper & Sons, The Electric Palace cinema, now Grade II-listed, opened in 1926, with seating for over 500. Bought in 1992 by Reeltime Entertainment, sympathetic improvements were made, but its old-world charm was retained. Today, the cinema shows the latest blockbusters, alongside the classics, and even some live performances. www.electricpalace.org.uk
6. St Michael's Studios
St Michael's Studios are at the creative hub of Bridport's colourful art scene and are now almost 10 years old. The growing number of artists in residence showcases all types of media, from paintings by Charles Hallsworth and oils by Anna Sullock to furniture by Asaf Tolkovsky - so you are bound to find something to suit! For examples of the artists' work visit the website for Bridport Open Studios.
7. Bridport Museum
A couple of months ago Dorset magazine featured an article about rope-making in Bridport, so why not follow its history for real, even testing your olfactory senses to see if you can recognise the aromas of the various products that played a part in Bridport's history. Or if you prefer more ancient history, why not see some of the Roman objects found at Waddon Hill? It's all here at the Museum... (01308 422116 or visit www.bridportmuseum.co.uk
8. Bridport Arts Centre
Dating from 1813 when it was a chapel, the Arts Centre stands resplendent in its soft-pink. With seating for 200, and three exhibition spaces, there is always a full programme of over 100 activities and events including art exhibitions throughout the year, and Bridport Literary Festival 7th-16th November. It also hosts the monthly farmers' market, and there is a delightful garden caf and herb garden in which to relax, and, yes, dogs are welcome! The caf is open Wednesday to Saturday from 10am to 2pm, and Sundays from 10am to 1pm. www.bridport-arts.com
9. Bucky Doo Square
Quiet day or busy day, this square is the perfect place to sit and watch the world go by. This curiously-named square, the origins of which still remain uncertain, is certainly the town's focal point and here you'll find a Portland- and Purbeck-stone centrepiece, designed and crafted by local stonemason Karl Dixon, featuring eight panel reliefs depicting Bridport's past, present and future.
10. West Bay
West Bay sits nestled in the fabulous backdrop of the Jurassic Coast, 11/2 miles from Bridport. To take in the view along the coast, you can either stroll along the beach or walk to the end of the 240-metre-long Jurassic Pier. And if you want a change from the coast, then you will find boats for hire in the harbour where you can head up the River Brit. There are many cafs circling the harbourside, and all tastes are well catered for.
...and there's more!
Over and above our '10 Good Reasons to Visit Bridport' there are, of course, many, many other reasons to hit the town and surrounding villages and countryside. You'll find lots of information and interesting things in the advertisements within this feature, and if you'd like to delve still further, then here is some more helpful information...
Bridport Tourist Information Centre, South Street. (01308 424901) or visit www.westdorset.com
First Group Travel (bus timetables). www.firstgroup.com
Bridport Town Council. (01308 456722)
Bridport Library. (01308 422778)
West Dorset Research Centre. (01308 458061)
www.west-bay.co.uk (places to stay)
...and of course, www.dorsetmagazine.co.uk
Have you any other 'good reasons' for visiting Bridport? You can tell us via our forum at www.dorsetmagazine.co.uk/forums