"Dorchester: Overlooked Little Burg" Dorchester by CitizenTed
Dorchester Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 38 photos
Dorchester is the county town of Dorset. As such, it has about as much "bustle" as green, leafy Dorset can muster. If you want high fashion and snarled traffic, Dorchester isn't for you. But if you like small, charming places with a few historical quirks, it's an excellent choice.
This is, of course, Thomas Hardy country. I find his works a bit sleepy, so I won't comment on his renown. But if you are a big Hardy fan, Dorchester is your Mecca.
The young locals in Dorchester don't think much of the place - many of them explained to me their yearnings to move to Yoevil or Bristol to find good jobs. Each asked me why in the hell I would waste precious holiday days in Dorchester. I had to explain my interest in small cities. I seek out the big fish in little ponds. I like small city orchestras and young, struggling rock bands whose nascence feeds their creativity. I like independent merchants and neighborly people. Dorchester fits.
The high street is short but busy, and there are a host of restaurants and pubs to suit your tastes and budget, from starless junk food to 3-star fancy dining. The county museum is compelling; it's a bit seedy, but great efforts are made to maintain a professional air. My elderly guide was terrific, and there were plenty of historical exhibits to arouse one's sense of wonder.
Just outside town is Maiden Castle, Europe's largest ancient hill fort. Vespasian successfully raided the fort in AD 43, but not without a valiant defense by the Celtic Durotiges. Now populated with sheep (mind the dung!), I spent a great rainy afternoon hiking all over the hill. Just south of downtown are the Maumbury Rings, a mysterious prehistoric circular earth work that is now very much a public park.
Dorchester is eminently walkable, and makes a fine springboard to the coastal towns of Weymouth and Portland.
I met some nice folks in Dorchester. Even the local yobs allowed me the grace of losing to them at billiards. If you are looking for a pit stop in the Southwest, I highly recommend it.
- Pros:Quiet, small city feel. Affordable lodging/services.
- Cons:Not much night life.
- In a nutshell:Pleasant, interesting. I could retire there.
The Maumbury Rings is a semi-circular set of earth works located in south Dorchester, Dorset. The original construction... more travel advice
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