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The best beaches in Dorset

21st May 2008 Print
If your idea of heaven is miles of glorious sandy beach sprinkled with tiny pink clam shells, then look no further than Studland Beach in Dorset. The beach stretches for three miles from South Haven Point to the chalk cliffs of Handfast Point and Old Harry Rocks outside Swanage. It includes the sheltered Shell Bay, ideal for families, and a well-separated, designated naturist area.

The heathland behind the beach is a haven for many rare birds and native wildlife and is a National Nature Reserve. Studland is one of the richest areas in Britain for wildflowers and there are several trails through the sand dunes and woodlands, including bird hides at Little Sea.

Though quiet and remote compared to its busy neighbour, Poole, Studland boasts an excellent pub, several good restaurants and you can even find a composting WC on Shell Bay!

Dorset Coastal Cottages offer several cottages within easy reach of Studland including Heatherview – a pretty, 1920s three-bedroom house with views across National Trust land to the beach beyond. Prices start at just £495 for a week.

At the other end of the county, almost in Devon, Lyme Regis offers a superb child-friendly, south-facing sandy beach sheltered from the weather and offering safe bathing in seawater of the highest standard. Nicknamed 'The Pearl of Dorset', Lyme Regis’s most famous attraction is the Cobb, featured in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion and the location of the famous opening scene in the screen adaptation of the French Lieutenant’s Woman.

The seafront at Lyme is great for promenading and is lined with colourful properties, kiosks, inns, little cafes and ice cream vendors selling delicious local ice creams and sorbets. There’s also a sailing school for the more active. To the right of the sandy beach is Monmouth Beach – a rockpooler’s paradise and a great place for spotting limpets, barnacles and even starfish. This beach also boasts a fascinating collection of fossils. Or for those who don't want to get wet feet, the Marine Aquarium on the Cobb has crabs, lobsters, conger eels and local exotica such as sea mice and beadlet anemones on show.

Lyme Regis is a great place to visit all year round. Make a week of it and stay in the three bedroom Beech Cottage on the nearby historic Rousdon Estate. Prices start from £410 per week.

For further information about Dorset Coastal Cottages visit the website at