Out and About, News & Events
What shall we do today?
You’re spoilt for choice. There’s so much to see and do around Whatley that you’ll wish you could stay longer.
To help you decide, here are some of our suggestions for exploring the local area.
The market town of West Dorset, Bridport remains popular with street traders, selling everything from hardware to handicrafts and books to bananas. The street markets take place every Wednesday and Saturday throughout the year.
Many of the stalls sell antiques and bric-a-brac, making it great fun to browse. You’ll find it hard to come back without having bought something!
Even if you don’t make it to Bridport on market day, there are plenty of other shops and sights to explore.
Bridport is well known for its art and antique quarter, in the St Michael’s trading estate. This diverse mix of buildings holds an equally mixed bag of businesses, in an area that’s fun to explore. It’s also home to the Bridport Vintage Market, that’s held on the last Sunday in the month, March to October.
Things to see and do in Bridport:
Bridport Market – every Wednesday and Saturday from 8am.
Bridport Vintage Market – last Sunday in the month, March to October.
Palmer Brewery – visit the only thatched brewery in the UK. Shop and tours available.
Bridport Museum – completely renovated a few years ago, entry is free for children. It provides fascinating glimpses into the town’s rope and net making history.
Bridport’s wide high street, a legacy of its rope making days, hosts a number of interesting and friendly local cafes and restaurants.
Colmer’s Hill & Manor Yard
When you’re in Bridport, you can’t miss the distinctive cone of Colmer’s Hill, out to the west of the high street. You can climb the hill, which offers wonderful views of West Dorset. It makes a delightful picnic spot.
A great place to park is at Manor Yard, part of the Symondsbury Estate. You’ll be surprised at the selection of shops there, set in a delightful range of rural buildings.
It’s about a 40-minute walk to the top of Colmer’s Hill and the slope is quite steep but it’s steady.
Beach days out
Whatley is about 20 mins drive from Bridport’s coastal area, West Bay, although there are many other beaches spread right along The World Heritage Jurassic Coastline.
West Bay – this is our local Beach, which is always very popular due to the dramatic backdrop of cliffs and the picturesque old harbour made famous by its ‘alter-ego’ of Broadchurch in the T.V. series and previously ‘Harbour Lights’. Quaint little harbour side kiosks offer a variety of foods should you get peckish.
A charming day visit, although if it is sandcastles, a paddle or swim you have in mind, head for the full-on holiday-resort experience of Weymouth or Olde-Worlde Lyme Regis.
Seatown – A small shingle beach that shelves steeply into the sea. Basic amenities are here and it is the perfect location for a bracing stroll along the seashore after some hearty refreshment taken at the beachside pub.
Perhaps indulge in a relaxing stroll at sunset and just listen to the waves lapping gently on the beach………..
Charmouth – another largely shingle beach, Charmouth is particularly popular with fossil hunters. The Heritage Coast Centre, right by the beach, has a wonderful exhibition of fossils, and they offer fossil hunting tours.
Lyme Regis – there’s plenty of sandy beach at Lyme, along with a harbour that’s protected by the massive arm of the Cobb. You can walk along the top of this huge breakwater, which has featured in a number of films and TV programmes.
Weymouth – the town regularly features in lists of the UK’s most popular seaside destinations. It boasts a wide, shallow and sandy beach that’s ideal for digging and building with – sand sculpture has been practiced here for generations. It also has traditional seaside entertainment, including donkey rides on the beach.
Have fun hunting fossils and more…
Fossil hunting is encouraged because once they’ve fallen out of the cliffs, the fossils will be broken up by the sea.
That said, fossils should always be collected from the beach, not from the cliffs themselves.
Most of the beaches from West Bay to Lyme Regis are great places to find fossils. The best time to look is around low tide, as many are at the low tide mark.
The most distinctive local fossil is the ammonite, with its coiled shell. You’ll find some ammonites embedded in huge rocks, or in the rock floor of the beach itself. It’s best to leave those where they are.
An alternative to finding fossils is looking for sea glass and ceramics that have been smoothed by the waves. Much of it comes from a Victorian rubbish dump in the cliffs near Lyme Regis. The landfill site is now collapsing into the sea, where the waves turn what was trash into collectibles.
Other things to do near Whatley
Climb Golden Cap – the highest point on the south coast of England.
Explore Chideock – a charming Dorset village with thatched cottages and pubs. Walk in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Whatley is at the heart of the West Dorset AONB, which you can enjoy through many different local walks.
Mapperton House & Gardens
A Jacobean manor, which is home to the Earl and Countess of Sandwich. It includes the Earl of Sandwich’s collection since the 1950s, and there is a garden and croquet lawn.
Award-winning family run restaurant based in West Dorset, close to the Jurassic coast.
Contemporary Dorset wines with a Jurassic twist. Visit their cellar door shop to buy still or sparkling wines. Vineyard and wine tours.
Saturday June 25th – Saturday 2nd July 2022.
Annual Festival of music, theatre, literature and art.
Bridport Hat Festival
3rd September 2022.
A celebration of hats, hat competitions and fundraiser for head-related charities, the Festival is a giant end-of-summer party for the town and its visitors, all run by volunteers.
A small museum of local history which visitors have declared “delightful” and “fascinating”.
With plenty to see and do for all ages, it also houses Jurassic fossils from the internationally renowned Horn Park Quarry, and has a permanent collection of aspects of life and work in Beaminster and its surrounding villages, since geological times. There is also a gift shop.