Shropshire Star

Delights of a gem of a geological coastline discovered in an electric adventure

Dorset is a county of beautiful countryside and stunning coastline.

Standing on the Harbour wall at West Bay

Castles, gardens and stately homes maybe your thing or you may prefer a walk on the wild side in Thomas Hardy country stumbling across incredible pre-historic or Roman remains. Or like me you maybe beach baby - fossil hunting or swimming through a magnificent sea arch. Dorset has it all.

We have always loved Dorset but our latest trip brought a new challenge - how to get there in our electric car finding charging points along the way. Thankfully we found a property where we could recharge not only our batteries but that of our car.

From the Black Country it is just about viable to drive to Dorset in one charge, but certainly not from our home in north Shropshire.

Our view of Durdle Door as we reached the top of the footpath took any breathe we had left away

Not wanting to wait around at a motorway service station we decided to branch off the M5 at Gloucester and charge the car at the car park at Gloucester Quays. What a gem of a little city. Gloucester Quays was a real find, a great mix of canal heritage and a museum with shopping and plenty of places to eat. And the impressive Gloucester Cathedral was just a short walk away, through an alleyway where to my delight was the home of Beatrix Potter's The Tailor of Gloucester.

We set off again and were soon on the A-roads of Dorset then down lanes with stunning period farms - and our holiday accommodation, Wraxall Yard.

Recharging out batteries and the car at Wraxall Yard

Wraxall Yard, between Yeovil and Dorchester is just 15 miles from the Jurassic coast.

A complex of cottages created from derelict farm building, it has been created with the environment at its heart and as such has electric chargers for guests.

It was such a relief when we arrived, duly plugged in our vehicle and found our cottage in a delightful courtyard.

The stunning Wraxall Yard holiday accommodation

The complex is owned by Nick Read and his daughter, Kate.

They wanted Wraxall Yard not only to be environmentally sustainable and a wildlife haven, but also to be accessible to everyone to enjoy the peace and the quiet beauty that they treasure.

Every cottage is wheelchair accessible, from the wetroom style 'bathrooms' and every switch and socket at wheelchair level, to the ingeniously designed kitchens.

The sink and hob worktop in our cottage could be lowered and raised to different heights in a touch of a button. There are even some 'profiling' beds and in a couple of cottages, hoists.

Yet every accessible aid is cleverly incorporated within the cottage decor.

Our completely accessible cottage

There is even a special wheelchair friendly boardwalk, giving access to the grounds around Wraxall Yard.

Kate, a wildlife expert, is happy to organise walks and talks about the wonderful things on site. In fact we had a wonderful time, listening through a bat echo meter, to the bats flying around the complex one evening.

But for me, the call of the sea was too strong not to explore.

The Dorset coastline is a geological gem.

The Jurassic coast stretches 95 miles from Exmouth to Swanage and is England's only natural World Heritage site, designated in 2001 for its rocks, fossils and landforms. And it is connected with wonderful coastal walks.

West Bay. near Bridport. is just a 14-mile drive away.

Fans of the TV series Broadchurch will recognise West Bay as the setting for the detective series, from the towering sandstone and sandy limestone cliffs to the wooden houses on the River Brit.

The harbour walls are lined with people crabbing and anglers while an incoming tide brings the fishing boats in, laden with fish, crabs and shellfish.

Anglers also line with beach although thankfully a lifeguarded area to the east of the harbour is a non-fishing zone for swimmers.

Go west and you reach the fossil hunters' paradises - Charlmouth and Lyme Regis.

Like West Bay, Charmouth has an absolutely fascinating visitor centre where you can see incredible fossils including the Sea Dragon made famous by David Attenborough.

Lyme Regis was the setting for the novel, The French Lieutenant's Woman and for the 1981 film - and I did my very best Meryl Streep pose on a walk along the Cob wall.

I also did my best fossil hunting at both Charmouth and Lyme Regis but failed miserably. Signing up for a fossil hunt it definitely on the agenda for our next visit.

Head east and the geology and geography continues.

Chesil Beach is a 19-mile shingle barrier beach with a fresh water lagoon behind - home to the Abbotsbury Swannery, well worth a visit.

The beach ends at Portland and Portland Bill, again an area that needs a couple of days at least to explore.

I had a fabulous late afternoon swim, a pint from the Cove pub, sitting on the shingle listening to the water breaking gently on the shingle and then delighting in an incredible sunset.

A couple of miles west at Weymouth, shingle is replaced with sand, renowned for its sand castle-building capabilities.

So much so there is a Sand Art visitor attraction along with traditional seaside fun and both north and south harbours, not to mention Nothe Fort.

Our furthest trip from Wraxall Yard was to the fantastic and breathtaking Lulworth Cove 30 miles away.

A school trip underway while we were there underlined the incredible landforms and geology of the area.

Lulworth Cove was formed by the combined forces of the sea and a river swollen by melting ice at the end of the last Ice Age.

Crumpled rocks were formed when tectonic plates collided, and sea erosion has carved through those rocks causing the fabulous arches.

The biggest is Durdle Door, a mile walk up and over those geological hills.

The weather gods were with us an again I stood, stared and took photos of Stairhole and Man O'War bay before descending onto the pebble beach of Durdle Door.

And of course there had to be, for me, the obligatory swim through that archway - going back through again and again marvelling at the rock formation.

The sun was setting again as we set off back 'home', our holiday home at Wraxhall Yard. Recharging our batteries and of course recharging our car.


  • Wraxall Yard, Lower Wraxhall, Dorchester, DT2 0HL is a not-for-profit organisation established to provide holiday accommodation, rural experiences and education to people, including those with disabilities.

  • A three-night stay in a cottage at Wraxall Yard starts from £372

  • There are 5 cottages that sleep between 3 and 7 people.

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