A last minute booking to Bridport in Dorset for a birthday and wedding anniversary celebration was made in lieu of the proposed trip to Seattle. After a gorgeous sunny September, autumn also decided to come along too, so it was a mixed week of sunshine and showers and even a few dramatic thunderstorms with lightning and thundering waves.
Bridport is a quaint market town in West Dorset and only a mile from the famous Jurassic coast at West Bay with its lovely harbour and shingle beach. It has an open and airy feel to it because of the wide streets that contain several hundred listed buildings many of them built to accommodate the twisting and dyeing of ropes and nets during the late 12th century. It also has a lively arts and literary scene.
Although in a self-catering house I don’t consider it a holiday if I do all the cooking so we ate take away fish and chips from Longs in West Street which were excellent – thin batter on the succulent cod and crisp chips. And the best deal was a thin crust pizza, salad and 1/2 pint of local cider from The Stable, behind the Bull hotel on East Street – £10 on a Tuesday. If you like it hot go for the Blaster! Or what about the Bucky Doo?
Good fish and seafood can be found in local pubs and restaurants, but head to the Hive Beach Café, a tarpaulin-sided hut which is a popular place for lunch as it is right on the beach at Burton Bradstock, 4 miles from Bridport along the shingle Chesil Beach. It is very busy at the weekend, even at this time of year, but worth the wait (no bookings) for the fresh lobster, sea bass or grilled sardines. An obvious choice for Saturday’s birthday lunch.
Only a mile from Bridport is West Bay with its newly designed harbour, vertical sandstone cliff glowing like molten gold in the late afternoon sun and sweeping shingle beach. West bay grew up as the harbour for nearby Bridport and was Thomas Hardy’s “Port Bredy”. More recently it was the location of the TV drama ‘Broadchurch’. Brightly coloured fishing boats bob in the harbour, fishermen line the harbour walls or the edge of the surf, and cute wooden shacks and kiosks line the harbour walk where you can buy fish and chips, fish stews, ice-creams. We stopped for dessert – a cone of delicious Purbeck fig and honey ice-cream.
The main attraction in Lyme is the historic medieval harbour known as The Cobb featured in the ‘French Lieutenant’s Woman’. Known as the gateway to the Dorset Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis provides a good base for visiting walkers. The town has long inspired artistic and literary visitors including, Tolkien, Tennyson and Jane Austen who set the novel ‘Persuasion here. There are excellent facilities with plenty of restaurants, pubs and cafés as well as an interesting selection of galleries and shops to explore in the old town which dates from the 14th century.
As always on my holidays there were trips to the coast and visits to gardens. Not a lot of chances to visit historical places at this time of year and with the nights closing in, the days are shorter, but we had a wonderful time and hope it won’t be decades before we return.