DORSET

Practical Caravan - - Travel Regional Round Up -

Fancy at­tend­ing a fes­ti­val this year? Take a look at Dorset’s of­fer­ing (www.visit-dorset.com/whats-on/ fes­ti­vals). Spring kicks off the pro­ceed­ings with food and drink fes­ti­vals in Bournemouth and Ab­bots­bury; Lyme Regis holds a three-day fos­sil fes­ti­val in May and Swan­age holds a cel­e­bra­tion of all things fishy in June. Camp Bes­ti­val puts on mu­sic and per­for­mance at Lul­worth Cas­tle in July and Lyme Regis takes up the folk mu­sic ban­ner at the end of Au­gust. If you love air­craft, don’t miss the Bournemouth air show at the end of Au­gust, and this year marks the 50th an­niver­sary of the Great Dorset Steam Fair at Bland­ford Fo­rum in Au­gust. Dorset’s coast sup­ports sev­eral na­ture re­serves – Holton Heath, Hart­land Moor, Stud­land and Godlingston Heath – and the 280-acre Durl­ston Coun­try Park Na­tional Na­ture Re­serve in Swan­age is the gate­way to the Juras­sic Coast. Far­ther west is Kim­meridge and The Etches Col­lec­tion of fos­sils. One of the most fas­ci­nat­ing coastal fea­tures is the 18-mile peb­ble bank known as Ch­e­sil Beach, and the Fleet la­goon – find out more at the Fine Foun­da­tion Ch­e­sil Beach Cen­tre. Tucked be­hind the West Fleet is the Ab­bots­bury Swan­nery where, in May, you can watch cygnets hatch. In­land, fam­i­lies will love the Don­key Walk­ing Ad­ven­tures at Beamin­ster, watch­ing the go­ing­son at Mon­key World near Wareham, and Farmer Palmer’s Farm Park near Poole. And don’t miss the Tank Mu­seum at Bov­ing­ton Camp.

Hardy coun­try

Dorch­ester is the county town, known for its as­so­ci­a­tion with au­thor Thomas Hardy – you can visit two of his houses in the area. Dorch­ester mu­se­ums in­clude The Tu­tankhamun Ex­hi­bi­tion, The Ter­ra­cotta War­riors Mu­seum, the Di­nosaur Mu­seum, the Teddy Bear Mu­seum and the Mum­mies ex­hi­bi­tion; pick up a Gold Saver Pass (https://world­her­itage.nutick­ets.com/gold­saver­pass). If you’re vis­it­ing in spring, don’t miss the Dorset County Mu­seum, home to Dippy, the Nat­u­ral His­tory Mu­seum’s iconic Diplodocus, un­til 8 May. The county also has its share of grand houses: Forde Abbey, Map­per­ton, Kingston Lacy, Athel­hamp­ton, Sher­borne Cas­tle and Gar­dens, and High­cliffe Cas­tle. Mean­while, one of the most beau­ti­ful towns in the county is Sher­borne. It’s home to an an­cient abbey much ad­mired for its su­perb fan-vaulted ceil­ing. ■ Turn to p73 of the Top 100 guide for site info

CLOCK­WISE FROM LEFT Ab­bots­bury is home to the fa­mous Swan­nery. Mon­key World res­cues pri­mates from all over the world. Bes­ti­val at Lul­worth

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