Much of West Dorset's coast and countryside is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The county town is Dorchester.
Due to the high fertility of the soil, dairy and sheep farming is common. During the research of this website, an old reference book dated 1896 made claim to the county of Dorset as often being referred to as 'The Garden of England'. In more recent times however, Kent appears to have taken over that accolade.
The resorts along the coast of West Dorset are for holiday makers searching for the somewhat quieter pleasures that being by the sea can provide.
The World Heritage Jurassic Coast
West Dorset's coastline dates back to the Jurassic period. As the rocks gently tilt downwards to the east, the oldest cliffs are around the Lyme Regis and Charmouth areas at about 200 million years old. The youngest are at Portland, about 140 million years old. They were formed in a tropical sea, flooding the desert which had existed before that time. About 140 million years ago, sea levels dropped again giving rise to forests, swamps and lagoons. Dinosaurs ruled the Earth. Then about 100 million years ago sea levels rose again, flooding the area under another vast tropical sea.
Dorset wasn't where it is now, but instead close to the equator and enjoying Bahama style tropical weather. Tropical sea flooding of the land and land mass shifts pushed Dorset to where it is today. The Ice Age followed with huge glaziers forming to gouge out valleys and reshape the land profile, including West Dorset's cliffs, though they weren't by the sea...yet. During the ultimate thaw around 10 thousand years ago, sea levels rose and flooded the low lying land, thus forming the North Sea and English Channel. Britain was suddenly cut off from mainland Europe, trapping animals and humans on our island.
Towns & Villages
Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Seatown, Chideock, Eype, West Bay, Freshwater, Burton Bradstock, West Bexington, Abbotsbury, Portland Isle