It was back to sunshine so we decided to drive inland to the small market town of Wimborne Minster named after its church. It’s a delightful little place with its main square (Corn Market) bordered with fine examples of Anglo Saxon architecture. Both in the square and along its adjacent high street are many small independent retailers making window shopping more interesting than when we see the same ‘big names’ all the time.
We then took a look inside the imposing Wimborne Minster, located at one end of the high street. This church has been in existence since the 12th century and underwent large scale restoration during Victorian times. It is best known for having a chained library where books can be taken from shelves to be read but cannot be removed as they are attached by a chain. We enjoyed lunch in ‘The Man in the Square’ pub on West Borough before returning to Bournemouth.
Our afternoon was spent strolling along the seafront which felt more like July than February as there were so many people walking along the promenade and playing on the beach. Some brave people were paddling and one or two were even taking a dip in the sea which must have been freezing cold. We were happy just to watch, wrapped up to protect us from the icy chill. Nestling below the cliffs along the lower promenade are hundreds of Victorian beach huts. These are still popular today and here in Bournemouth have been painted literally in all the colours of the rainbow. These huts can be hired by the day or week but cannot be used overnight. We then continued our walk through the Lower Gardens where we saw the tethered air balloon in use for the first time this week.
A blustery morning so we decided to drive over to Dorchester which lies 30 miles to the west of Bournemouth.
The high street gently rises uphill to the Corn Exchange at its top, it’s now pedestrianised and its medieval buildings are filled with shops and cafes that still manage to retain their original charm. One shop I came across was Seasalt – a Cornish clothing company selling clothes and textiles with a ‘seaside’ theme.
I really like some of their designs and have seen them in John Lewis but had only once before visited one of their shops as they haven’t expanded further north yet. As well as its Roman origins, Dorchester was also the home and inspiration of Thomas Hardy whose novel ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ was based on the town.
After lunch in The Royal Oak pub we returned to Bournemouth along the slower, more scenic route stopping off at Sandbanks on the way back. Sandbanks peninsula crosses the mouth of Poole harbour and is said to have the fourth most expensive land value in the world. Along the edge of the spit homes have views forward over Poole harbour and rear overlooking Bournemouth bay, it’s the home of millionaires and footballers! A chain ferry operates between Sandbanks and Shell Bay taking motorists and foot passengers across throughout the year. Since our last visit Rick Stein has opened a restaurant there, along with his others in Padstow, Winchester and Marlborough.
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