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Introducing Dorset

For many people the bustling market towns, babbling brooks and thatch-roofed cottages of rural Dorset are inextricably bound up with one name – Thomas Hardy, the 19th-century novelist, who lived most of his life in Dorset and used it as the setting for some of his most famous tales. But the county is more than just a literary landmark, it’s a historical one too – Iron Age remains, tumbledown abbeys and medieval towns are dotted all over the Dorset landscape, and the glorious stretch of crumbling coastline along the county’s southern edge – the Jurassic Coast – is where many of Britain’s most important fossils have been discovered. The centre for budding ammonite-hunters is Lyme Regis, but for a taste of the classic British seaside, head west to the popular coastal resorts of Weymouth and Bournemouth, where day-trippers have been strolling along the promenades since the days when crinoline and whalebone corsets were in vogue.