Towns and villages
Dorset is mostly rural, with a few large towns and many small villages. The county has a variety of landscapes, from steep chalk hills and wide clay valleys full of small dairy farms to the 50 mile Jurassic Coast world heritage site, popular with tourists and important to science.
Dorset has notable lesbian and gay activity in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Other towns have small but developing gay communities. Bournemouth has an annual Pride event. Information on the gay community in Dorset is collated online at www.gaydorset.com.
The only major airport in Dorset is Bournemouth International Airport, which does flights to many cities in Europe. Bristol airport, 50 miles to the north, has a wider selection, including New York. Southampton airport, 20 miles to the east, has a good selection of European destinations also. London is just over 100 miles east.
Dorchester, Poole, Bournemouth, Weymouth and on a separate line Sherborne and Gillingham are connected directly to London, approximately 2 hours. Dorchester, Weymouth and Sherbourne are connected to Bristol and Bath, about 1 1/2 hours away.
The A303 is the main route from London into the north of the county (and has Stonehenge half-way). The south of the county is connected to London by the M3 and M27, and to the Channel Tunnel by the M27 and A27. Both routes carry on into Devon and Cornwall. The A36 and A37 connect to Bath and Bristol.
The A35 between Dorchester and Bridport has spectacular views over the local countryside, as too does the coastal road (B3157) between Weymouth and Bridport. Both are probably most dramatic at sunset (driving towards Bridport) but are amazing at any time.
Much of Dorset is very rural, and though there are many bus routes, many do not have regular and often services, or may only run on market and pension days. The biggest bus company is called Wilts & Dorset. They run services to most of the major towns. Their main office is at Poole Bus Station, with satellite offices in some of the larger towns.
Dorset has a number of local specialities including Apple Cake, Cream Teas and Blue Vinney Cheese.
Some of the best local food comes from tea shops, cafes, fish and chip shops and pubs, Not all pubs serve food all of the time and the quality varies considerably.
If you prefer international or exotic flavours the towns of Bournemouth, Poole and Weymouth will provide you with a good choice.
There are many breweries in Dorset. Hall & Woodhouse of Blandford are the largest brewing Badger Best Bitter, Tanglefoot and a variety of flavoured beers. Palmers of Bridport are the biggest brewers in the West of the County. Each of these breweries has a large number of tied pubs within the county. Other local beers often found in Dorset pubs come from Ringwood Brewery, Fullers, Marstons and Morland along with the well known international lagers.
It's possible to find locally made cider and scrumpy in some of the rural areas.
There is a vineyard at Horton north of Wimborne, but wine production in the county is low volume at best.