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Gourmet hampers, chic cottages, bountiful fishing and wow-factor views – Mariella Frostrup gives her guide to a Dorset holiday.

Why go?

We spent the summer chasing sunshine and the perfect location for all the family to relax and play. On the last weekend of August, in our little Boutique Retreats cottage in the hamlet of Seatown in Dorset, our dreams were realised – and a lot closer to home than we expected. 

Our cottage looked like it had leapt from the pages of a style magazine with its palette of subdued greys and blues, stripy carpet, crisp white linen, chic tableware, fluffy towels and modern bathrooms. We’d packed enough victuals to feed an army, and arrived to find a hamper that left our supplies redundant. 

The Beach House, Dorset, sleeps six and costs from £900 for a long weekend in winter to £2,502 for a week in summer. For more information, visit boutique-retreats.co.uk

Activities

There’s a total food revolution happening in Dorset. Who needs pan- Pacific when you’ve got West Terrific? Banana bread and white chocolate pistachio cookies, Hive Beach Café marmalade and chutney, and a freshly baked multigrain loaf begging for a slab of creamy local butter were just a few of the delights we uncovered. 

In just three days, we squeezed in fossil-hunting on Charmouth beach, which involved two hours of concentrated investigation from our foursome of eight-to-10-year-olds in search of Jurassic treasures. A morning was idled away in the glorious late summer sun fishing on the Francesca Mary with Jess, our able seawoman, helping the near-hysterical children haul in mackerel and whiting in a breathtakingly bountiful catch. 

We ate Persian chicken wraps on Marine Parade in Lyme Regis, followed by generous scoops of local ice-cream piled precariously on cones. A dinner fit for royalty made use of the same fabulously fresh fish stocks at the picturesque Hix Oyster & Fish House, perched high in Lanyard Gardens overlooking the bay. My husband and I drank world-class sauvignon from a local vineyard. Below us, the kids played crazy golf and table tennis until their fresh fish fingers and mushy peas arrived, which they fell on like soldiers emerging from a siege. 

We climbed verdant, grass-carpeted cliffs to reach Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast, and were rewarded with views that stretched on either side. In front, the placid sea glittered as though alive with silvery minnows while yachts glided by in the gentle breeze. 

Back at base, a chef arrived from nearby culinary legend Hive Beach Café to rustle up a platter piled high with the day’s ocean offerings, followed by juicy steaks and sautéed rosemary potatoes. I cried ‘Mercy!’ at the sight of family favourite, banoffee pie, but sneaked downstairs after the kids were asleep to guzzle the slice I’d rejected. 

Next year’s holiday won’t be nearly as hard to organise, because stampeding elephants won’t prevent us from returning. The Dorset Tourist Board is certainly doing its job. 

Mariella Frostrup is a contributing editor to Family Traveller and mother to two young children. For more of her articles, click here.

For more of what you love in Dorset, check out familytraveller.com/dorset