A trove of beautiful landscapes and charming olde-worlde villages hugging the Jurassic Coast, Dorset is a particularly picturesque slice of southwest England. It’s also prime apple country, which means it produces some of Britain’s best cider and it has its fair share of independent local ale breweries, too. With Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant as a luxurious base, a tour of Dorset’s cosiest country pubs offers a rewarding way to explore the county. Here are a few of our favourites.
The literary icon
All low ceilings, roaring fires and an inspired selection of traditional ales, the 16th century The Acorn Inn features in the well-thumbed pages of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles as The Sow and Acorn. Evershot’s much-loved village ‘local’, this former coaching inn serves excellent cuisine in its cosy family-friendly dining rooms, just a stone’s throw from Summer Lodge.
The beach bar
The buff sands and rugged Jurassic coastline of Seatown Beach make this a bracing but beautiful shoreline hike. The real reward of a stroll along these cliffs, however, comes in the shape of a pint of Palmers Dorset Gold by the log burner in the atmospheric Anchor Inn. A friendly haven tucked on the edge of Seatown’s sandy cove, just half an hour from Evershot, its simple menu and well-stocked local ale selection means there’s a consistent buzz of activity within its walls.
The historic treasure
A short drive from Evershot is the sleepy village of East Coker, whose starring attraction alongside its pretty cluster of thatched stone cottages, is The Helyar Arms. A Grade II-listed pub with roots in the 15th century, this lively watering hole is replete with log fires, excellent Dorset ciders and a classic pub menu lovingly crafted with local ingredients.
The village pub
A convivial community atmosphere sets The Three Horseshoes in the pretty village of Burton Bradstock apart as one of Dorset’s most charming country pubs. Half an hour’s drive from Summer Lodge, this beautiful thatched 300-year-old stone property on the Jurassic Coast is a lively watering hole at heart of the village. Log fires blaze in the winter and a popular beer garden thrums with activity during the summer.
The pet-friendly pub
Cosy up with a glass of wine in The Chetnole Inn’s snug bar, overlooking the pub’s pretty gardens. Dogs are as welcome here as they are at Summer Lodge, and they’ll certainly find a warm place to snuggle near the log burner. Better still for four-legged guests, though, is the beer garden which opens out into the fields beyond, perfect for a game of throw and catch.
The hiker’s pick
The Cranborne Chase is a fair drive from Summer Lodge, but it’s extraordinarily pretty, with vast sweeps of ancient woodland, spring green pastures and rolling hills scattered with charming historic villages. In summer, the area teems with walkers and ramblers, and The Inn at Cranborne is a popular pitstop for outdoorsy types. An excellent choice of cask ales rubs shoulders with a brilliant range of gins and a popular food menu delivers plenty of sustenance for a pre-, mid- or post-hike stop.
Stay at Red Carnation Hotels’ Summer Lodge Country House Hotel, Restaurant and Spa to tour Dorset’s charming country pubs.
Image credits: lead image © iStock/mikedabell. Acorn Inn © Red Carnation Hotels. Anchor Inn © The Anchor. The Three Horseshoes © The Three Horseshoes .