And I Never Had to Worry About a Place to Park – Dorset, England

And I Never Had to Worry About a Place to Park
Dorset, England



My friend Mary can do it. Why can’t I? Maybe it’s because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. Mary is considerably younger than I am, and her confident driving skills are the same in Dorset as they are in LA. An unfamiliar car and the wrong side of the road business doesn’t faze her at all. I have no trouble driving in LA but I’m sure that in an emergency in Dorset my reflexes would be all wrong and I would turn right when I should turn left.

With Mary the drive from Dorchester to Evershot on the busy A37 takes only 15 minutes – but we miss villages like Frampton, Maiden Newton, and Cattistock that are on Southern National’s No. 212 bus route. When I ride the country buses, the journey is just as much the object as the destination. A good example is the attractive route Southern National’s No. 31 bus takes on its way from Weymouth to Lyme Regis. The bus goes on to Tauntan in Somerset but I usually get off in the Square in Lyme Regis. The journey from the King’s statue in Weymouth takes an hour and 37 minutes and passes through Dorchester and Bridport. The best part is when it turns onto the coast road and goes through Chideock, Morcombelake and Charmouth.

Town crier in Lyme Regis

Town crier in Lyme Regis

Last July I arrived in Lyme just in time to hear the town crier announcing the start of a New Orleans-style jazz festival. After a leisurely stroll up Broad Street and then out to the Cobb and a little while pretending to be Meryl Streep as she was in The French Lieutenant’s Woman I was ready for a cream tea in the Bell Cliff Tea Rooms. Mary, with her driving skills, would have had a definite advantage in Lyme Regis that day. I missed the Jazz Festival because I had to be in front of the post office to catch the last bus back to Weymouth at 3:38pm.

It took a little tricky planning but on another day last year I managed a journey from Wyke Regis near Weymouth to the pretty tearoom and garden by the duck pond in Worth Matravers with stops in Wareham and Corfe Castle along the way. The 9:50am train from Weymouth pulled into Wareham on time at 10:22am. I could have waited at the railway station for the No. 144 Wilts and Dorset bus that would take me to Worth Matravers, but it was much more fun to walk through the small riverside town and catch the No. 144 at the end of the town on the South Bridge at the end of South Street.

There’s plenty to enjoy in Wareham. I could walk on the earthen walls built to defend the town against invading Vikings in the 9th Century or visit St. Martins, the Saxon Church that is still much the same as it was when it was built in 1030. There is a marble effigy of T.E. Lawrence inside that I think looks very much like Peter O’ Toole, even though Eric Kennington made it long before the movie was released. I decided to spend my time walking along the grassy banks of the Frome River near the quay until time to catch my bus.

A very impertinent robin

A very impertinent robin

The ride from Wareham through Stoborough and past Corfe Castle to Worth Matravers has to be one of the most dramatically beautiful in Dorset. I arrived at the charming stone village at 12:15, just in time for lunch in the garden of the tearoom. There was hardly room for tables and chairs because the garden was simply bursting with bloom. I had to do battle with a very impertinent robin who sat on my table next to my plate and tried to convince me that she should have the larger part of my cheese and pickle sandwich.

After lunch I spent a while watching the new ducklings in the neat and tidy pond before deciding there would be enough time to walk out to St Aldhelm’s head and enjoy the lovely coastal view looking westwards towards Chapman’s Pool. I would have had time to walk the mile and a half Winspit, the tiny, rocky bay that is so picturesque, but it would have been all uphill on the way back and my walking forte is downhill, never uphill.

I was back by the pond in Worth before the No. 144 arrived on its way back to Wareham. When we passed through Corfe Castle it was still too early for the cream tea I was planning to have at the National Trust Tearoom but Corfe is such a pretty little village that I was happy to spend sometime strolling among its handsome, gray, limestone buildings.

A visit to Corfe always means a stop in the National Trust Shop. Its one of the nicest in Dorset. I never fail to find something I simply must buy. Mary definitely has an advantage over me here. She can put any purchases in the trunk of her car and continue swanning about unencumbered, but I have to carry everything with me. The accumulated weight of the books I like to buy can really become a burden.

Corfe Castle

Corfe National Trust Tearoom

I love the view from the garden in back of the National Trust Tearoom. Where else can one sip tea and enjoy scones while gazing at the romantic ruins of a castle that belonged to William the Conqueror in 1080?

At 4:58 I was holding my rather cumbersome National Trust purchases while waiting on East Street for the No. 143 to take me back to the rail station in Wareham. The bus was a few minutes late but the wait was made quite bearable because of the beautiful jewelry displayed in the shop window by the bus stop. In my daydream I had decided on the lovely jade necklace when the bus pulled up.

It was a nuisance carrying my packages and I would have liked to spend a little more time in Worth Matravers, but all in all I think my day compares very well with most car-borne excursions – and, I never had to worry about a place to park!

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