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​Living in West Dorset


West Dorset with its outstanding scenery and rugged coastline is a most enjoyable part of the country and covers a large geographical area (670 square miles), characterised by a number of small towns, each with a distinct identity.

The coastline is protected by World Heritage as a site of outstanding natural beauty including the longest pebble beach in the world, Chesil Beach.  The majority of people live in the south of the area in and around Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester.

Dorchester

The traditional county town of West Dorset made famous by the novels of Thomas Hardy. Due to recent expansion and the influx of people relocating from London, Essex, the Midlands and Home Counties, new shops and restaurants have opened, adding to the mix of modern and traditional. The Brewery Square Development has many restaurants now open, Carluccios, Zizzi, Cote, Wagamama, Pizza Express, Nando's. This development also houses a new cinema and many new shops with more exciting developments on the way. Several new wine bars have opened including Vivo Lounge and Durnovaria,  lively and sophisticated places. There are some really good restaurants to choose from down High West Street including Thai, Indian, Italian and traditional European. There are many other good facilities, including fantastic skate parks for children and the 1610 Leisure Centre where NHS Staff receive a discount for membership along with various other leisure centres and gyms. New developments such as Poundbury in Dorchester have an exciting mix of residential and commercial property and many new and successful businesses have been started in recent years.

Weymouth

This is a lively coastal town with an exciting mix of shops, cafes, bars and nightclubs. It has become very popular with the sailing community over the last 30 years. Everyone meets in the Brewers Quay area at the weekend especially in the summer months, to do a spot of people watching! Weymouth is famous for its Trawler Race Day on May Bank Holiday, when such events as boat racing and mast climbing take place. Weymouth Bay, which is the same size as the Bay of Naples, stretches out beyond the busy centre into chic Regency apartments and hotels.  Beyond this there are excellent golfing facilities at Came Down Golf Club, and wetland areas for the bird community, including arctic terns and cormorants.  In the summer, Weymouth is a very popular holiday destination for tourists, the beach is one of the cleanest in the country and there are plenty of amusements for children, including a mini fairground and Punch and Judy shows.  Every Monday evening during August, Weymouth is host to a breathtaking firework display and the end of the summer celebrations culminates in a Red Arrows fly-by. Every Bank Holiday Sunday in Weymouth there is a Quay Side music festival held on the harbour providing fun and dancing until the early hours! Just before Christmas the town hosts its Victorian night with late night shopping and a French market.  New Year's Eve in Weymouth is something worth witnessing too.  Fancy dress is mandatory!

Weymouth nightlife can rival most major coastal resorts.  If you like it civilised, the bay view restaurant Al-Molo offers fine dining and an extensive cocktail list. Prezzo is on the other side of the harbour too.  If you like clubbing, there are a host of reasonable clubs and bars offering a busy night out over the weekend and various themed week night slots. If it's a cocktail with a sunset view you fancy there are a host of bars along the seafront which can offer just that!

West Dorset is a prime holiday centre with the population doubling in the summer months since both the coastline and the countryside offer a wide range of interests for people to pursue.  There are excellent watersport facilities in Weymouth & Portland where the Olympic Sailing Centre can be found, plenty of beautiful countryside that walking groups of all ages take advantage of and a host of first class events that take place on an annual basis. Blandford holds the National Steam Fair and the Dorset County Show is one of the best agricultural and craft shows in the country.  Dorset County Museum in Dorchester holds a huge archive of materials for Hardy and archaeology enthusiasts and regularly holds workshops on findings from the local area. ​

Housing

There is a wide range of housing available in the region, from old town houses in Dorchester to new housing developments such as Poundbury and Charlton Down; alternatively, there are numerous rural villages within a few miles from Dorchester, such as Charminster, Piddlehinton, Cerne Abbas, Winterbourne St. Martin, Bockhampton, Lyme Regis, Abbotsbury and Lulworth where you can find a delightful thatched cottage or a more substantial property.  More affordable towns such as Weymouth, Bridport, Yeovil and Poole are all within easy commuting distance.  Most national estate agents have local branches in Dorchester.

Education

The local schools are excellent, being a mix of public and private education. You can find out full details on the Dorset For You website.​​​

Transport

It is pleasant to live in such tranquil surroundings and yet be within easy reach of such major centres as Bournemouth, Bath, Southampton, Exeter and Bristol. Good communications exist and culture, first class sport, as well as top quality shopping are all within an hour's drive. Airports at Bournemouth, Southampton, Exeter and Bristol are all within 60 miles.  Ferry services run to the Continent from Poole and Bournemouth and to Jersey and Guernsey. Dorchester is well connected by rail to London with two direct services every hour.​

You can find out more about living in Dorset via www.dorsetforyou.gov.uk and www.visit-dorset.com