Visit West Dorset
Bespoke picnics, vintage finds, artisan distilleries and more…
Just some of the reasons to visit West Dorset
Head to the picturesque county of Dorset throughout the year and discover bucolic countryside, a dramatic coastline, quirky shops, artisan food and drink producers and much more. Visit west Dorset and base yourself at the Alexandra, a boutique cliff-top bolthole with private gardens and magnificent views of the harbour, in the picturesque coastal town of Lyme Regis.
Here are some of our top tips on what to explore:
Artisan distilleries and vineyards
Artisan food and drink producers are springing up across the county. Hailing from Beaminster, Black Cow Vodka produces the world’s only Pure Milk Vodka™ made entirely from the milk of grass-grazed cows. Fresh whole milk makes the vodka exceptionally smooth, with a unique creamy character. Launched in 2015, Conker Gin near Bournemouth is another top-notch distillery and this small-batch gin is distilled using British wheat spirit and New Forest Spring Water. Dorset is also home to several vineyards, including the Furleigh Estate; its sparkling Rosé wine is served in the Alexandra’s restaurant. Tours of the vineyard can be arranged on Fridays and Saturdays.
Picnic on the beach
Having won Gold in the prestigious Taste of the West Awards for the third consecutive year, the Alexandra is renowned for its delicious locally-sourced cuisine. The hotel has recently introduced Picnic Boxes (Packed Lunch for £45/Beach Box £55; serves two) for guests wishing to enjoy a picnic nearby, or even on the Alexandra’s lawn. The Beach Box is packed with tasty treats including a selection of finger sandwiches such as smoked salmon with crème fraiche, crab and cucumber and mature cheddar and onion jam; freshly-baked scones with jam and clotted cream, crisps, fresh strawberries and a bottle of prosecco complete the treat.
The Dorset Knob savoury biscuit has been made by the Moores family since 1880 at their Bridport base. The company’s Craft Bakery Shop (open 9am-5pm Monday-Friday and some Saturdays/Bank Holidays in high season) sells a range of biscuits, bread and cakes, all baked on the premises. Each Dorset Knob is individually moulded by hand and has three separate bakings lasting a total of four hours, with the whole process taking eight to ten hours. Usually eaten with cheese, the biscuits take centre-stage in the Dorset Knob Throwing Competition. Held annually in May, there are also a Knob & spoon race, Knob darts and putt the Knob competitions.
Antiques, crafts, homewares and vintage finds
Lyme Regis has a refreshingly independent high street, with one-off shops including The Town Mill for arts and crafts and Ryder & Hinks, a treasure trove of Scandi-inspired homewares, quirky jewellery and locally-made products. Along the coast, Old Albion, in Bridport, sources eclectic vintage finds which may include everything from a 1970s fairground pay booth and decorative tiles to reclaimed chairs and circus lights.
Dorset was made for walking
Lyme Regis is the perfect base for bracing coastal walks along the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast. The town lies at the heart of the Jurassic Coastline, sitting on a stunning section of the celebrated 630-mile South West Coast Path National Trail which runs from Minehead in Somerset, via the far west of Cornwall, to Poole Harbour. The National Trust-owned Golden Cap Estate also boasts spectacular sea views, wild orchid meadows, and it is a haven for wildlife. The estate’s little-known Copse Mead has two natural ponds which are home to butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies (including Britain’s largest -The Emperor).
Lyme Regis ArtsFest 2016 (17 September – 2 October) takes place this autumn with all artwork based on the theme of ‘identity’. In advance of the festival, a Sculpture Trail will run throughout the town and seafront this summer, featuring works from over 30 talented West Country artists, with additional pieces springing up until October. The festival itself includes creative workshops, exhibitions and other events, featuring 2D and 3D artwork, from children’s book illustrators to stone balancing artists.
Planning ahead for Christmas
Let someone else do the hard work this Christmas. A warm welcome awaits guests at the Alexandra on Christmas Eve, with champagne, canapés and a delicious four-course dinner, Midnight Mass at a local church, followed by mince pies and mulled wine. Enjoy a Christmas breakfast of smoked salmon and scrambled eggs with a glass of Buck’s Fizz, a festive five-course Christmas Lunch complete with handmade crackers, and a buffet supper. Christmas at the Alexandra costs from £1,260 per room / £630 pp (two sharing) including three nights’ B&B with Buck’s Fizz, festive afternoon tea, champagne and canapés reception, traditional five-course Christmas Lunch and three dinners.
Sample price: A night’s accommodation at the Alexandra with breakfast costs from £180 per room (two sharing)/£90 per person. As well as direct access to the beach, beautiful gardens and an award-winning restaurant, the hotel offers a variety of wedding packages plus a treatment room, gym, complimentary WiFi and children’s play area.
For more information visit www.hotelalexandra.co.uk, or call 01297 442 010 to book.
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