West Dorset with its outstanding scenery and rugged coastline is 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.

The majority of people live in the south of the area in and around Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester and the remainder of the population live in the centres of Lyme Regis, Bridport, Sherborne, Blandford, Sturminster Newton and Shaftesbury. Dorchester is the traditional county town of West Dorset, made famous by the novels of Thomas Hardy.

It’s an intriguing mix of historic and the modern, with the new Brewery Square development offering a vibrant and sophisticated leisure and shopping complex.

The local schools are amongst the best in the country with a mix of public and private education. Dorset County Hospital is close to the town centre of Dorchester, and is close to bus and rail networks, making the major centres of Bournemouth, Bath, Southampton, Exeter and Bristol easily accessible.

Living in Dorset

By joining the Dorset County Hospital family, you will have the opportunity to live and work in a beautiful part of the country. With beautiful coast lines and plenty of attractions, you will never be short on anything to do. Take a look at Visit Dorset to see what the area has to offer.


In 2019 Dorchester was voted as one of the top 10 happiest places to live.

The town provides the location for many of the county’s leading museums, including Dorset County Museum.

Learn more of Dorchester’s grizzly history and the trial of the Tolpuddle Martyrs with a visit to Shire Hall Historic Courthouse Museum.

Just a few moments drive form Dorchester you will find the opulent Athelhampton House. This Grade I listed 15th Century manor house boasts an award winning garden that is certainly worth exploring.

Lovers of the acclaimed poet and writer Thomas Hardy will be aware of the significance of Dorchester. The county town is of course the ‘Casterbridge’ featured in many of his novels.

Hardy’s birthplace can be found on the outskirts of Dorchester in Higher Bockhampton.


With beautiful golden sands, shallow waters, an action-packed events programme and a pretty harbourside, you certainly won’t be disappointed.

Blue Flag winning Weymouth Beach is consistently recognised as one of the top ten beach destinations in Europe.

The world was introduced to the Georgian grandeur of Weymouth during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and captured the hearts of many!

Make sure you take a wander around Weymouth’s beautiful historic harbour. This is a great place to sit and watch the world go by.

The most popular event of the year, the Dorset Seafood Festival, is held on the harbour every July and sees thousands of people head to the area.


Portland is a part of Dorset like no other; wild, natural and ruggedly beautiful.

This unique, tied island marks the southernmost point on the Jurassic Coast and is joined to the mainland by Chesil Beach. Its isolated location, quaint villages and rocky, coastal scenery give the island its own special atmosphere, perfect for exploring.

Portland is known world-wide for its sailing waters, the National Sailing Academy is based here which was the host venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events.

A short trip up to the north of the island, will take you to the Olympic rings, one of the best viewpoints on the island. Wait until the sun is setting and the rings become the foreground to the most spectacular view of Chesil Beach.

West Bay

With the stunning golden glow of the majestic sandstone cliffs and the shimmering radiance of Golden Cap, West Bay is the Golden Gateway to the Jurassic Coast. West Bay nestles south of Bridport, between Eype with Seatown to the west and Freshwater with Burton Bradstock to the east.

West Bay is a wonderful seaside location for coast and countryside walks, fossil hunting, fishing trips, scuba diving, paragliding, golfing, river boating and so much more.

The area has enjoyed a surge in popularity in recent years while playing host to ITV’s smash hit drama Broadchurch. It’s not hard to see why the location was chosen, West Bay offers some stunning landscape to explore with breathtaking views from its dramatic coastline.

Lyme Regis

A trip to Lyme Regis wouldn’t be complete without a stroll around the iconic Cobb harbour.

Take a walk along The Cobb on a clear day and you will be rewarded with some of the finest views along the coast. If it’s a bit grey and murky outside then don’t despair as this is when The Cobb is full of atmosphere!

The Cobb is steeped in history. Meryl Streep brought fame to the iconic Cobb standing motionless all clad in black and Jane Austen’s novel, Persuasion, was written and part set here.

Full of history, romance and scenery, Lyme Regis is a beautiful place just to sit, watch and dream.

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