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Secret Places in Dorset

Get away from the busy tourist spots and discover seven secret places in Dorset. From nature reserves to sculpture parks, you can find many hidden gems in Dorset.

Sometimes it pays to get off the beaten track to add some unusual places to your travel plan. In Dorset, there are so many secret places that can make your visit unique. Most of these are free and ideal if you are travelling with your friends, family or children.

Keep reading to discover a world of secret places in Dorset…


Chapmans Pool – Isle of Purbeck

Chapmans Pool

It is easy to overlook Chapman’s pool, with so many geological wonders along the Jurassic Coast. However, if you want to explore the stunning coastline without the tourist rush, Chapmans Pool could be the spot for you.

With a long hike from the Worth Matravers Car Park, the walk takes you along the Jurassic Coast across rolling green hills and eye-catching cliffs. Crystal clear waters, opening out in front of your eyes as you approach the pool.

The pebbly cove is an ideal stop if you want a quiet, relaxing beach. However, there are no facilities at Chapmans Pool so you will need to take all your rubbish away.

Unfortunately, due to the hike and steps down to the beach, Chapmans Pool is not accessible for prams or wheelchairs.

Car Parking: 3 Renscombe Road, Worth Matravers, Swanage, BH19 3LL
Accommodation: See our list of cottages on the Isle of Purbeck.


Brownsea Island – Poole Harbour

Brownsea Island

If you want to see some of the areas native animals, Brownsea Island is a hidden gem. Accessible by a small foot ferry, the island is home to the rare red squirrel and an array of marine birds.

Brownsea Island is only open throughout the summer months and is a secret spot if you prefer to get away from the busier beaches and tourist attractions. The ferry leaves Poole between 9:30 and 13:00, and the last return boat leaves the island at 17:00.

If you really want to explore the ecology, Brownsea has several camping options. Sleep beneath the stars and wake up to a choir of avocets, spoonbills and godwits. Then, forget the sound of tourists as you wander the island throughout the day.

Car Parking: Poole Harbour, Poole, Dorset, BH13 7EE
Accommodation: Stay in a Poole cottage to make your trip more enjoyable.


Stair Hole & Lulworth Crumple – Lulworth Cove

Stair Hole

Lulworth Cove is one of the most popular destinations on any visit to Dorset. Around the cove, several hotspots are at the top of most peoples must-visit destinations. However, if you are close to Lulworth Cove, you should check out Stair Hole. It is an impressive rock formation that offers insight into the history of the Jurassic Coast.

Along the way, some signs explain the unique rock formations and how the Lulworth Crumple was formed. What makes the Stair Hole a great place to visit is the proximity to the likes of Durdle Door and Dorset’s prehistoric fossil forest.

Parking: West Lulworth, Wareham, BH20 5RS
Accommodation: Embrace the Jurassic coast from a cosy stay in a Lulworth cottage.


Breweries – All over Dorset

Brewery in Dorset

Now, there is nothing secret about breweries in Dorset. However, they are great if you want to discover more off the beaten track. Often found in hidden locations, Dorset breweries are home to some of the UK’s favourite ales.

One of the regions most popular brewers is the famous Palmers Brewery. If you head to Bridport, you can see the original 200-year-old mill and the history that goes into brewing every beer.

Many of the breweries offer tours that explore the technical process of brewing beer.


Arne Nature Reserve – Wareham

arne nature reserve

Much like Brownsea Island, Arne Nature Reserve is a hidden gem for the abundance of wildlife. It is one of the only places where you can still see all six of the UK’s native reptiles.

The ancient oak woodland is an RSPB reserve, perfect for any keen twitchers. Keep an eye out for the largest spoonbill flock in the UK, or listen to the beautiful call of the Dartford warbler.

Although the Arne Nature reserve is one of our secret places to visit in Dorset, it is one of the more popular attractions. You can grab a coffee, find a gift and enjoy the well-preserved British ecology.

Parking: Arne Road, Arne, Wareham, BH20 5BJ


Tout Quarry Sculpture Park – Portland

tout Sculpture Park

A quarry might not sound like the most exciting place you will want to visit, but the Tout Quarry Sculpture Park is an impressive spectacle. Once the supplier for buildings in London, the quarry is now home to sculptures, wildflowers and butterflies.

Since 1983 the park has seen some of the UK’s most talented artists, including Anthony Gormley. There are over 60 sculptures, and it is a great place to visit if you are looking to stock up on British culture.

As well as being home to these impressive sculptures, Tout Quarry has become a haven for plants and invertebrates. Part of the quarry is a nature reserve, and the area has been left to regenerate naturally.

Whether you want to admire the art or be at one with nature, Tout Quarry is a great stop for the whole family.

Parking: Tradecroft Industrial Estate Portland, Dorset, DT5 2LN


Abbotsbury Swannery

Abbotsbury Swannery

Open in the summer months, the Abbotsbury Swannery is an unusual stop for adults and children. During the 9th century, the Swannery was created to help feed the Benedictine monks.

Nowadays, the Swannery is less about meat production and more about providing an experience. With over 600 swans, you can help to feed the majestic birds between 12:00 and 16:00.

At the Swannery, you can also find a fun maze and a cosy cafe to enjoy a hot drink after a long day.

Parking: New Barn Road, Abbotsbury, Weymouth, DT3 4JG


Dorset is an eye-catching region with exciting things to do with the whole family. There are so many hidden gems and secret places in Dorset. Get away from the crowded beaches and busy walks with a visit to one of these unusual places in the South West.


Image Credits – Phil Champion – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Andrew Bone – (CC BY 2.0)