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National Trust Days Out in Dorset

category Days Out In Dorset

Dorset is renowned for its spectacular scenery and award-winning attractions. There are so many things to see and do in the local area, you’ll be spoilt for choice when deciding on a day trip from your Dorset holiday home. If you have a National Trust Membership, there are plenty of places to visit nearby, including extravagant country homes, mystical castles and spectacular natural landmarks.

To help you get out and about and explore more of our beautiful county whilst visiting your home from home, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite National Trust days out in Dorset.

Hardy’s Cottage


Hardy's cottage

Take a step back in time and explore the birthplace of famed novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy. Visit the picturesque thatched cottage, where he spent his childhood and penned some of his best-known work, including Far from the Madding Crowd. The chocolate box cottage remains largely untouched, with much of the original furniture intact. Immerse yourself in the world of this literary icon as you walk through the various rooms on display including Hardy’s bedroom and his Granny’s kitchen.

Hardy’s Cottage is set within pretty cottage gardens in an idyllic rural location. It sits on the edge of Thorncombe Woods, where you will find miles of marked trails and pretty picnic spots. Little ones will love building dens amongst the trees and looking for dragonflies and other wildlife at the pond. There is also a visitor centre and small café.

Photo credit: Thomas Capper, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)


Hardy Monument


Just a short drive from the pretty village of Portesham you will find Hardy Monument, built in memory of Admiral Hardy, who died during the battle of Trafalgar. The monument is a unique shape and was designed to resemble a spyglass, in a nod to Hardy’s maritime roots. It is open on Wednesdays and Sundays, allowing visitors to climb the 120 steps to the viewing point at the top. Even from ground level, you can admire the stunning scenery with views over Portland, the Blackdown hills and Chesil Beach. From the National Trust car park there are a number lovely dog walks.

Photo credit: James Loveridge Photography


White Mill

Sturminster Marshall

White Mill is an 18th century corn mill, set on the banks of the River Stour. It occupies a prime position on the Kingston Lacy Estate with stunning views over the Dorset countryside. Following careful refurbishment, the National Trust have restored this abandoned mill to its former glory. Inside you can see the original wooden machinery and learn about its important role in the industrial revolution. You can explore the mill at your own pace, or join one of the guided tours that run throughout the day. During the tour friendly volunteers will share with you fascinating stories from early millers and help you understand the intricate workings of the mill.

Following your visit, make sure you spend some time in the garden, or pack a picnic to enjoy next to the river. There aren’t any facilities here so you will need to bring your own refreshments and food. The river is home to an array of wildlife, so keep your eyes peeled for kingfishers and otters. Cross Dorset’s oldest bridge to follow a four mile circular route through picturesque farmland.

White Mill is open weekends and bank holidays April – October.

Photo credit: James Loveridge Photography


Cerne Giant

Cerne Abbas

The Cerne Giant is an interesting part of Dorset folklore. The figure has been carved into the hillside in the village of Cerne Abbas on the outskirts of Dorchester. It is believed to be the largest hill figure in Britain, standing at an impressive 180ft tall. Despite its prominence, little is known about the chalk carving, which depicts a nude male figure holding a club above his head. There have been a number of theories, and much speculation about its age, with many archaeologists believing it a symbol of fertility dating back to the 17th century.

Walking on the giant is forbidden – there is fencing around the figure. For the best view head to Giants view car park. From here it’s just a short walk to the giant’s feet.

Photo credit: James Loveridge Photography


Corfe Castle


The ruins of Corfe Castle are one of the most iconic landmarks in Dorset and a must see if you’re visiting the Isle of Purbeck. The castle sits upon a hill overlooking the quaint village of Corfe, creating a spectacular scene as you arrive by car. Over the years the castle has played an important role in Britain’s history and helped prevent invasion of the surrounding land.

Today the ruins are open to the public providing an insight in to its turbulent past. Children can dress up as knights with swords and shields and follow clues to complete a quest around the castle’s grounds. Throughout the year there are also a number of themed events, which provide fun for all the family. There’s everything from bat walks, court jesters to movies under the stars.

Photo credit: James Loveridge Photography

Golden Cap


Golden Cap is the highest point on the south coast of England and close to our West Dorset Holiday Parks. At 191m above sea level, it is a steep climb to the top, but hikers that make the journey will be rewarded with spectacular views. On a clear day you can see Portland and even Dartmoor in the distance. There are a number of ways to access Golden Cap depending on how far you want to walk. One of our favourites is through Langdon forest, where you can incorporate your ascent to the top of Golden Cap into a delightful woodland walk through carpets of bluebells!

Photo credit: James Loveridge Photography


Kingston Lacy



kingston lacy

Kingston Lacey was once the opulent home of The Banke’s, one of Dorset’s most powerful and respected families. This beautiful stately home was built to resemble a venetian place with striking architecture, marble floors and palatial furnishings. Every inch of the home, exudes luxury with a number of impressive pieces on display and walls adorned with beautiful artwork from around the world. During a guided tour you can explore a number of rooms, including the Egyptian room which houses the largest private collection of Egyptian artefacts in the UK and a bedroom carefully painted to resemble the inside of a canvas tent.

Outside, the extensive grounds are just as impressive and the perfect place to relax and while away a sunny afternoon. Sit and enjoy a picnic on one of the neatly manicured lawns or spend some time looking around the formal gardens. There’s also play parks for the children and a popular woodland trail.


Lambert’s & Coney Castle

Fishpond Bottom

Lambert’s and Coney’s castle are hillforts, less than a mile apart and overlooking miles after mile of beautiful West Dorset countryside, known as the Marshwood Vale. Lambert’s Castle dates back around 2,500 years and was used as part of a chain of signal posts from Plymouth to London to warn of a French invasion during the Napoleonic war. To visit Lambert’s Castle, there is a National Trust car park off the B3165 road between Raymond’s Hill and Marshwood. It’s a lovely spot for a walk, dog walk, picnic or kite flying with stunning views.