a station-by-station guide for UK tourist attractions

Dorchester South
Dorchester West

National Rail | South DCH | West DCW

Dorchester West is on the Heart of Wessex line.

Dorset Offers & Links

Dorchester is an important market town with many historic buildings and two stations, Dorchester South and Dorchester West. Dorchester was the site of the Roman town of Durnovaria and the excavated remains of a Roman town house can be seen. Maumbury Rings near the South station is an ancient henge earthwork used by the Romans as an amphitheatre. The writer Thomas Hardy lived locally and based his fictional town of Casterbridge on Dorchester.

Dorchester South station is on the line from London and Bournemouth and has the most frequent trains. Dorchester West has trains from Bristol and Westbury. Trains from both stations operate to Weymouth.

Dorchester makes a good base for exploring the area by public transport with bus services to Blandford Forum, Bridport, Lyme Regis and Axminster (for trains west to Exeter).

TI tel. 01305 267992. |

Dorchester Dorset Dorset Hideaways

Dorchester town map

Dorset County Museum ½ mile

Collections cover Dorset's natural history, archaeology and arts.
Open Daily 1000-1600.

Shire Hall ½ mile

Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum covers 200 years of justice (and injustice). See the cells before ascending to the dock. Café.
Open M-S 1000-1600.

Tutankhamun Exhibition ½ mile

A recreation of Tutankhamun's spectacular tomb and treasures.
Open SSu 1000-1600, see website for other days in summer.

Keep Military Museum ½ mile

The story of the Regiments of Devon and Dorset with uniforms, weapons, medals and silverware. Great views from the roof of the historic building.
Open M-S 1030-1630.

Dinosaur Museum ¾ mile

Set in a Victorian schoolhouse the museum has life-size reconstructions of dinosaurs and interactive displays.
Open SSu 1000-1600, see website for other days in summer.

Teddy Bear Museum ¾ mile

A large collection of teddy bears from antiques to modern TV favourites.
Open Easter-Oct, TWThFS 1000-1600.

Roman Town House ¾ mile

The ruins of a Roman town house in a protective building with glass walls so the mosaics and other features can be seen. Admission free.
Open Daily during daylight.

Maiden Castle EH 1¾ miles

A large Iron Age hillfort with multiple ramparts. Admission free.
Open Daily during daylight.

National Trust Holidays
National Trust Holidays
National Trust Holidays

Max Gate NT 1 mile*

Max Gate is the Victorian home which the author and poet Thomas Hardy designed for himself in 1885. He wrote some of his most famous novels here and most of his poetry. Refreshments.
Open Apr-Oct, TWThSSu for guided tours, see website.
Hardy's Cottage is 3 miles from Max Gate, on the way you may wish to visit Stinsford Church where Hardy's heart is buried (his ashes are buried at Westminster Abbey).

Kingston Maurward Animal Park & Gardens 2 miles* or by bus then ½ mile

Animals include sheep, alpacas, goats, chickens, rabbits, piglets and Shetland ponies. Formal gardens. Café.
Open Feb-Nov, Daily 1000-1600 (1700 Apr-Oct).
Bus as for Hardy's Cottage but alight at Stinsford Cottages, immediately after Stinsford Roundabout, 8 minutes journey, then ½ mile walk.

Hardy's Cottage NT 3½ miles* or by bus then 1 mile

The writer Thomas Hardy's rural birthplace and childhood home. Start at the Visitor Centre before continuing through woodland to the Cottage and garden. Trails through the surrounding woodland and heathland which inspired the young Thomas Hardy. Café at Visitor Centre.
Open Apr-Oct, TWThSSu for booked guided tours, see website.
Bus CR8 and CR9 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to Higher Kingston Farm stop on the A35 immediately after a layby, 10 minutes journey. Then 1 mile walk: carefully cross the fast A35 and follow the footpath (not bridleway) gently uphill (see map). M-S about 2-hourly. Operated by Damory.

* Distances shown are from Dorchester South station, add an extra ¼ mile from Dorchester West. Hardy's Cottage is about 4 miles if you walk via Max Gate.

Dorchester to Max Gate and Hardy's Cottage walk map
Ordnance Survey Maps
Ordnance Survey Maps
Ordnance Survey Maps

Athelhampton House & Gardens by bus

A Tudor Manor House containing a collection of English furniture. The Great Hall dates from 1485. West Wing Gallery with works of art by Russian artist Marevna. Architectural Gardens. Restaurant.
Open Apr-Sep, M-F & Sun 1000-1700. See website for Oct-Mar.
Bus CR9 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to entrance, shortly after Puddletown. 16 minutes journey, M-S infrequent but suitable for visiting. Operated by Damory.

Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum by bus

The Tolpuddle Martyrs were farmworkers who formed a trade union to protest about their meagre pay. In 1834 they were arrested and brutally sentenced to transportation. The Museum tells their story and how it led to the foundation of modern trade unionism. Admission free.
Open Apr-Oct, TWThFS 1000-1700. Nov-Feb, ThFS 1000-1600.
Bus as Athelhampton House above, alight at Museum (watch for sign on left), 20 minutes journey.

Minterne Gardens by bus

The landscaped Gardens include small lakes, waterfalls and streams. Plants include rhododendrons, azaleas, spring bulbs, cherries and maples. Garden Tea Shop (weather permitting).
Open Feb-Oct, Daily 1000-1800.
Bus CR5 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to Minterne Magna village opposite the Church, then cross the road and walk back a few yards to the Gardens entrance. About 40 minutes journey, M-F only, every 1½-3 hours. Operated by South West Coaches. Buses also operate from Sherborne.
Look out for the Cerne Abbas Giant chalk figure on the right as the bus leaves Cerne Abbas village, a few minutes before Minterne Magna.

Bridport by bus

Bridport is a historic rope and net making town, it's port is at West Bay, 1½ miles south at the mouth of the River Brit.
TI South Street, tel. 01308 424901.
Bus X51 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to Bridport West Street and Bus Station. 45-55 minutes journey. M-S 2-hourly. Operated by First. Buses also operate from Axminster and Weymouth.

Bridport Museum by bus

Housed in one of Bridport's oldest buildings the Museum covers the history of the town and local area including the Jurassic Coast. Rope and netting collection with working machinery. Fossils. Events and exhibitions programme. Admission free.
Open Apr-Oct, M-S 1000-1600. Nov-Mar, see website.
Bus see Bridport above.

Bridport map
Dorset Hideaways
Dorset Hideaways
Dorset Hideaways

Golden Cap and Langdon Hill NT by bus then 1½ miles

Golden Cap is a high flat-topped hill of orange sandstone on the Dorset coast. Its summit at 627 feet (191 m) is the highest point on the south coast with spectacular views east to Portland Bill, west to Start Point (in Devon) and inland to Dartmoor - well worth the effort of the uphill walk! Nearby Langdon Hill woodland is part of the extensive Golden Cap estate, there's a 1½ miles circular walk around the wood with great views of the surrounding countryside including Golden Cap. Bluebells can be seen in spring.
Open at all times.
Bus X51 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to Chideock, Bridge, then 1½ miles walk. 60-75 minutes journey. M-S 2-hourly. Operated by First. Buses also operate from Axminster and Weymouth.

Golden Cap and Chideock map
Just Go Holidays
Just Go Holidays
Just Go Holidays

Charmouth by bus

Charmouth is a traditional seaside village with a large shingle beach (½ mile from bus stop). Charmouth is at the heart of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and a great place to look for fossils.
Bus X51 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to Charmouth Church, 70-90 minutes journey. M-S 2-hourly. Operated by First. Buses also operate from Axminster and Weymouth.

Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre by bus then ½ mile

Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre has impressive fossil collections and you can find out how to discover your own fossils on the beach. Guided fossil hunting and rockpool exploring walks are available. Admission free.
Open please see website.
Bus see Charmouth above.

Charmouth map
Ultimate Travel Club
Ultimate Travel Club

Lyme Regis by bus

Lyme Regis has been popular as a seaside resort since the 18th century. Georgian houses line the steep main street down to the harbour. The old harbour ½ mile to the west of the town is known as the Cobb. The Lifeboat Station is on the Cobb and usually open to visit daily. The area is rich in fossils and Lyme Regis is at the heart of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site which stretches from Exmouth to Swanage.
TI Church Street, tel. 01297 442138.
Bus X51 from Dorchester South station and Weymouth Avenue to Lyme Regis Square, 80-100 minutes journey. M-S 2-hourly. Operated by First. Buses also operate from Axminster and Weymouth.

Lyme Regis Town Mill by bus

Guided tours of the restored working watermill. Other buildings house craft studios and galleries. Garden. Café.
Open Daily, see website for times.
Bus see Lyme Regis above.

Lyme Regis Museum by bus

Lyme Regis Museum is built on the site the home of Mary Anning who made some of the most significant geological finds of all time. The museum displays a spectacular collection of fossils and it is a good place to learn about them. Displays also cover Lyme's history, geology and literary associations. Great sea views.
Open Apr-Oct, TWThFSSu 1000-1700 (1600 Sun).
Bus see Lyme Regis above.

Dinosaurland Fossil Museum by bus

A traditional museum with a collection of local Jurassic marine fossils housed in a converted church. Also shells and skeletons.
Open Mar-Oct, Daily 1000-1600.
Bus see Lyme Regis above.

Marine Aquarium by bus then ½ mile

A variety of local fish and other marine life on display. Nautical items. History of the Cobb.
Open Mar-Oct, Daily 1000-1630. Please see website for winter opening.
Bus see Lyme Regis above.

Lyme Regis map

Explorer Map 116 Lyme Regis & Bridport

Explorer Map 117 Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis

Explorer Map OL15 Purbeck & South Dorset

South West Coast Path Guide, Exmouth to Poole

Pathfinder Walks Guide Dorset

First Aid Kit for walkers