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About Dorset

Submitted by Peter Orchard on Thu, 15/08/2019 - 11:16

will admit to being somewhat biased but Dorset is, to my mind, a most beautiful place and I am so lucky to live here!

I should start, for the benefit of any international visitors especially, by saying that Dorset lies on the south coast of England, just to the west of centre! It is not a large county and in many ways is a forgotten county. We have no cities here, no motorways and probably no more than thirty miles of dual carriageway. Outside of the urban areas of Bournemouth and Poole the only other major residential area is around the seaside town of Weymouth. It is a largely unspoilt county with a strong market town tradition that remains to this day.

The Dorset community life is based around the market towns of Wimborne, Blandford, Wareham, Sturminster Newton, Shaftesbury, Sherborne, Bridport and, of course, Dorchester, the county town. Around these towns are delightful, small villages often linked only by country lanes.

Dorset has a long and dramatic coastline formed mainly of hills and cliffs made of limestone. Commonly now known as the 'Jurassic Coast' it is designated a World Heritage Site and an area of outstandingly natural beauty. It is renowned  as a primary place to find fossils.

The county has an amazingly high level of bio-diversity. It is thought that it has the highest number of different species of animal and plant species per acre than any other British county although I am not certain this has ever been scientifically established!

Dorset is notable for having all six indigenous species of reptile living here. It also has its own butterfly, the Lulworth skipper as well as good colonies of other butterflies that are rare elsewhere in the United Kingdom such as the adonis blue, silver-studded blue, small blue and silver-spotted skipper. It is a top spot for bird migration both in spring and autumn, the Observatory on Portland is world renowned. We also have a large population of Dartford warblers, rare outside the county.

There are some notable plant species too, including the early spider orchid that is found in very few other places in the United Kingdom as well as our own heather, the Dorset heath and our own spurge, Portland spurge.

What brings about this diversity? Its geology. Geology is a complex subject but the array of rocks that Dorset is built on produces various soil types which lead to a wide range of plants for the insects and other animals to feed on. I have written a short explanation of the geology which you can find on the next page, just click the link.

I could write for pages on Dorset but you do not have time for that. View the sites database to find out the best places to go to see Dorset at its best and the species database to track down those species you want to see. Above all, enjoy the nature of Dorset, it is priceless.