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West Bay is a small holiday resort on the South Coast of England. The Bay lies just a few miles from the town of Bridport and is in the county of Dorset. This is a very popular holiday destination for people all over the UK as there is a stunning beach here and lots of attractions in the area. For this reason in the summer months the area can get very busy. West Bay has a small harbour, two piers and a long sandy beach. This is a stunning stretch of coastline and there is also some really lovely scenery inland from here, for these reasons people have been coming to visit this area for many years.
If you are planning a visit to West Bay and want somewhere to stay there are a few choices. There is a large holiday park here called Park Dene Holidays that provides good basic accommodation at reasonable prices. The park is ideal for families as there is lots to do for children including a large swimming pool. If you are looking for a hotel West Bay has a few small bed and breakfasts, if you want something larger then Bridport is only a few miles away and this has some excellent hotels. Another option is one of the many local caravan or camp sites, these are ideal if you are looking for cheap accommodation.
The main attraction of West Bay is obviously the beach, this long sandy beach is ideal for families as there is plenty of room for children to play. From the harbour you can take trips out on boats ranging from cruises to deep sea fishing, these do tend to be seasonal tours so you may not be able to do these in the winter months. The coastline in this area is known as the Jurassic Coast and it really is impressive. A great way to see the coastline is to go out on Kayak, you can book these up the coast at Weymouth. There is also an excellent golf course up on the East cliffs which has some stunning views from the tees.
The little resort has a few nice shops to browse round. As this is a tourist area most of the shop sell local arts and crafts and gifts and souvenirs. There are some good fun shops to look round selling lots of beach gear and all kind of interesting little nicnaks. There are also some nice little chip shops that sell local fish and really are great if you want a quick snack as you walk along the beach. The is also the famous Riverside Restaurant which was voted one of the best seafood restaurants in Britain. There are a few other little pubs and cafes which as have a friendly atmosphere and welcome visitors.
West Bay really is a great holiday destination. There is so much to do in this area and some great attractions to enjoy. People have been coming on holiday here for many years and when you visit the resort it is easy to see why. Next time you are heading for the South coast make sure that you give West Bay a visit.
Right from a small child I fondly remember setting off to Westbay from Bridport, bucket and spade in hand and a smile on my face. My mums memories of it however might differ, as I used to love combing the beach for colored stones (well alright whopping great rocks), and mum would have to carry them back with us. For me at least the beauty of the place lies in its size, as its never overly crowded which leaves you to take in the shear beauty of its surroundings. However since the recent revamp of the pier and housing developments, Im starting to wonder how long the place will have such a tight hold of me.
A Brief History of Westbay
Westbay was formally known as Bridport harbour due to the fact that the river Brit, Simene and Asker merged in the south before reaching West bay. Many ships were built there during the Napoleonic Wars, and up until the last century it was used to import and export trade (fish). The town may also ring a bell with some of you who are fans of Heartbeats Nick Berry. For it was here that the series harbour lights was filmed with Casualtys Tina Holby also appearing. Lets just say that local people only watched it for views of the town, and to people spot rather than the fine acting.
In recent years work has taken place on the pier which is now wider and easily accessible for the disabled. Also still ongoing is the new apartments that are being built next to existing ones, to provide luxury accommodation with stunning views. As of yet the museum and shops havent been built, but will hopefully be up and running in the near future. Back in 2001 Dorset and East Devon was granted world heritage status by UNESCO. (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).
Beginning at Orcombe Rocks near Exmouth and finishing at Old Harry Rocks in Studland Bay. West Bay itself has had its revamped pier named The Jurassic Pier as it forms a major part to the Jurassic period of this coast.
If you heading down from London, I would suggest you catch a train from Waterloo right through to Dorchester. From there you can either taxi it, or catch the number 31 bus which runs on the hour every hour up until 5.20pm. This will then get you into Bridport which is just a couple of miles away from Westbay itself. You then have the option to walk, or pick one of the shuttle buses which run down there.
If you wish to travel by car you want to pick up the A31 on your map, then onto the A35 and finally picking up the B3157 to Westbay.
When you finally arrive there is ample parking in the town, and a long stay ticket will cost you £3.
What to see and do while youre here
Although not my idea of fun, the pier and beach is a wonderful place for anglers to catch some good sized fish. There are also boat trips that can be booked for this purpose, but be wary as it can be very pricey. A 15 minute white knuckle ride will cost you £6 and a half hour harbour cruise is about £10. For any diving fanatics out there, there are plenty of expeditions to go on especially in search of local wrecks including one that dates back to the early 17th century! Throughout the year there are many annual events such as Melplash Show where you can taste local produce, and see the animals. The Trawler Parade and Sea Rescue Demonstration are another event not to be missed, and never fails to draw in a crowd.
For all you keen walkers out there, both East cliff and west cliff offer a good work out for your muscles. The views from both are jaw dropping, but be warned although the walks start of easy they soon get harder. My personal favorite of the two has to be the east cliff walk. Basically its less hard going and there is more to marvel at on the way.
The summer months bring in the local fair, but alias its very small and very, very expensive.
With regards to the beach again the east side is better, as here youll find most of the sand. West beach is full of pebbles and offers very little sand, as well as going into a dip more when you start wading out. On a fine day, you can see right across to Portland (East) and Lyme Regis (West). If you have any dogs its important to note that between the 1st of May and the 1st of October, theyre not permitted on the beach. Youll be pleased to know that Westbay features in the good beach guide, as it constantly achieves the highest award for sea water quality.
Unfortunately at present there is only one shop where you can purchase souvenirs and buckets and spades. There are plans to have some more to coincide with the new apartments, so fingers crossed they will be up and running soon.
With regards to nightlife the pubs and amusement arcade are your only options down there, as Da vinchies the nightclub has closed. If you are a night owl, then a taxi into Bridport is recommended where there are plenty of pubs to choose from.
For seafood lovers I would suggest the Riverside Restaurant. Although not for my liking, it always busy in the summer months, and is situated right by the lake. There are also a sprinkling of pubs that as well as offering seafood, do cater for the rest of us. Having only been in the Bridport Arms hotel, I can only recommend this one. They serve a wide range of meals and desserts at very reasonable prices. Now I have saved the best to last and they are the food huts found by the harbour. For the purpose of this review I felt it was my duty to try all of them out. I can honestly say that you could go to any of them and come away with a huge smile on your face. Mum and I went there last week and for this time of year 3 of the 5 were still open. I had a bacon lettuce and tomato roll with chips, and mum had sausage and chips. We paid roughly £5, and were so full up we had a job to walk the 2 miles back to Bridport.
As you would expect from a seaside down, you have the options of camping out, hiring a caravan, staying in a B&B, one of the hotels in and around the area, or at Westbay holiday park. This is where you can stay in one of their caravans or lodges, and then go into the onsite building to find eateries, entertainment for all the family and a gym. Check out their website at the end of my review for further information on this popular holiday park.
Other important points to note
On the whole the town is beautifully kept with very little litter around, due to the fact that there are plenty of litter bins around, and the road sweepers are about regularly. The town is easily accessible to disabled users, and has very well kept toilets with baby changing facilities dotted around the place. Disabled toilets as you may or may not know are accessed only with a radar key. If you dont have one, then contact your local health authority. There was a recent incident where a lady was unaware of this, and had the embarrassment of having to have people lift her in and out of the toilets.
As with most towns up and down the country Friday and Saturday nights can be rowdy to say the least down there with teenage drinkers and boy racers. The police for once are clamping down on it, and on the whole they have got it under control.
My thoughts on this place
As I said at the beginning, this place holds many happy memories for my mum and me. With stunning views, good food and friendly people this certainly is a lovely place to come at spend some time. However I do have some reservations these being, that the beach is not the best for sand lovers, and the recent developments going on there. While I understand the need for more accommodation in the town, in my eyes what theyre doing is not very in keeping with this picturesque town. Having been keeping a watchful eye on it, the apartment building doesnt fit in with the rest of the place. In other words its become an eyesore, and Im not the only local person to say this. My worry is the place will lose its own individual character, and just be a clone of other developed seaside resorts. The lack of shops will also have to be quickly addressed, as youd expect to find your usual souvenir shops by the sea.
All in all I would say that if youre looking for a relatively peaceful break away from the hustle and bustle of life, then Westbay could very well be the answer to your prayers.
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Another Monday afternoon in the middle of August, what did that mean ? Another three hour trek along the beach and harbour at West Bay, cup of tea or crisps and coke somewhere before the only bit I looked forward too - the arcade with all its action (or the most action I ever saw at West Bay at the age of 10) So tell me if I disliked it so much why then in January do I rush to book into one of the caravan parks or hotels for a week in August? Because you don't know what you had 'til its gone? Or because familiarity breeds contempt? Neither really, I think it's because West Bay and the surrounding area now have some ooomph,(or maybe it always did have oomph, just that I didn't notice it?) It hasn't changed much landscape wise indeed the cafes and kiosks are exactly the same, as are the bars and restaurants, but the menus and hospitality have certainly taken a turn for the better. Locally there are some well planned events and attractions especially in the summer months. The trawler boat race which is a major excuse for everyone to get drenched and drunk, the Bridport carnival which has its good years and so-so years, the Melplash Show - good for the wax jacket owners amongst us. Now I have a feeling that my change of heart may also be down to the nostalgic old fool that I am; as the the lady that runs the ice cream kiosk is the mum of one of my school friends she was there when I was 10 and she's still there now - 20 years later.The filming of Harbour Lights certainly put West Bay on the map, I'm just appreciative that it didn't change it. From my point of view it's a trip down memory lane, my hubby loves it, and my kids treasure every moment. This year we are heading for the Haven Holidays site, last year we went to Freshwater Caravan park, a 15 minute walk along the golf course to West Bay. There are bigger and better, commercial beach holidays out there, but West Bay will do me.
I call myself Lamorna. There’s a reason. In another life we had a ‘Special Place’ in Mounts Bay, Cornwall, called Lamorna Cove. The fishing villages of Penzance, Newlyn and Mousehole and Lamorna Cove, were colonised in the 19th. Century by artists who painted in the ‘Open Air’ scandalising people with their Bohemian way of life. Since my life changed dramatically in 1991, I have never been back to that ‘Special Place’ as I prefer to keep the memories in a private compartment in my mind. I have another ‘Special Place’ in my life now. Lyme Bay, West Dorset, a small harbour or haven called West Bay. I live here. West Bay is a small resort set between the cliffs of Lyme Regis to the West and the ancient Roman Town of Dorchester to the East, with the Town of Bridport, one mile inland. The West Bay Harbour was built in 1722. Ship building in the River Brit dates from the days of Alfred the Great in the 9th. Century. The Schooner ‘Speedy’ was built there in 1853 to compete with the American Clippers. West Bay is a working harbour. It hasn’t got the instant ‘Olde Worlde Charme’ that usually sells postcards. This makes it all the more appealing, a place with a heart and soul. The entrance to the harbour from the open sea is very narrow. This causes problems for bigger boats trying to seek refuge in rough weather. The smart motor launches mingle happily alongside the working fishing trawlers. Do you like Sea-Fishing? Angling? Experienced local fishermen will take you out in their boats for a days fishing and entertain you very well, including the Après-Fish! Explaining Fossil hunting to a young child, seeing the wonder and disbelief growing on their faces as you tell them what you are searching for amongst the rocks. Marvel at the thrill of their expressions when they find their first Ammonite. Their fresh, vivid imaginations are already in the World of the
Dinosaurs. Pure magic for an adult to see and feel it again through young eyes, and remember how we felt at the same age on such a journey of discovery. Study the cliff and rock formations. Research some of the excellent websites concerning fossils in this area. They make good reading. Families of all ages will enjoy that experience at West Bay, and there are more exciting finds further along the coast to the West at Charmouth and Lyme Regis. You are in a natural Theme Park. The Harbour and a long stone pier separate the two bathing beaches. One beach is shingle and the other pebble. The beach slopes steeply into the sea, so stay with the children and make sure they don’t go out too far. Fly kites, or just sit on the beach and gaze round the whole of Lyme Bay and see Portland Bill to your East, and Lyme Regis, where they filmed ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’ to your West. Cast a look up higher and there’s the West Bay Golf Course, with the notorious Hole 14, or The Cliff Hole, as that’s where the ball goes soaring over the cliff and into the sea below. Walk along the old pier and look in the buckets by the side of the families fishing off the side. Crabs, fish, old boots, but aren’t they loving it? Stand aghast at the foolhardy bravery of the youngsters who ignore the warnings of Danger by the Authorities, and leap regardless, over the side of the pier into the deep, dark dangerous seas. Proper controlled diving is a popular sport by many local people as a hobby, and they will sell you live scallops, lobsters, mackerel, plaice just out of the sea. You may even be tempted to try a supervised dive yourself. Catch your own supper..? Palmers, the independent brewery is half a mile along the road, thatched, and on the banks of the River Brit between Bridport and West Bay, so consequently there are several pubs in West Bay, one of them, the Bridport Arms is thatched too, and on the b
each! It was renamed The Bridehaven for the series Harbour Lights, featuring Nick Berry. (All right! I know, but it brought in much needed tourism) Have a pint in any one of them, and Billy Bragg could be in the Bar, the writer and author Dave Martin, who co-wrote Dr. Who, and invented K9. P J Harvey’s often seen with her family, and of course our own Hugh Fearnly Whittingstone, famous for the River Cottage series on Channel 4. You are able to eat a variety of foods, from a bag of excellent fresh cooked chips from the first class Fish and Chip Kiosk, a West Bay Whopper from the well run Take Away Kiosks overlooking the pretty Harbour, good Pub food offering bowls of steaming moules, to a full ‘Plat de Fruit de Mer’ from the famous Riverside Restaurant set in the middle of the boating pool on the estuary of the River Brit, and accessed by a wooden footbridge. West Bay used to have a railway station, long since closed down, but the small Victorian Station Building has been renovated and houses the Tourist Advisory Board, complete with the actual train that used to take people to West Bay for their annual holidays. Take a look inside the coaches and ponder how much improved the railways are, or aren’t, as the case may be! Put West Bay Railway Station into a good search engine, and the West Bay Station website will come up. A consortium of inventors and businessmen are getting the funds and grants together in an attempt to rebuild the line, and restore the charms of a century ago. It’s an interesting, informative website, Haven Holidays have a well-kept Caravan Park overlooking the Bay, there is a good selections of Bed and Breakfast accommodation, an AA recommended Hotel, all the pubs let rooms, and a variety of holiday flats and cottages for self-catering, plus a field for tents for the brave and hardy amongst us all. In August so much happens in West Bay. The Fairground settles in for the mont
h, the Melplash Agricultural Show occupies a field or several for the day, where a family can buy a day ticket and see country attractions, from little fluffy bunnies to massive prize bulls. The Carnival, with floats lovingly created by the Round Table, the Play Groups, the Pubs and local businesses. Tremendous fun! Firework displays, and live music on the Green at the Bay to dance to till the early hours of the morning. A Trawler race round the Bay, a very wet spectator sport, as the trawler men and friends dress up to the nines (Usually with falsies and suspenders! Why?) They then delight in hosing down the watching crowds as they race to the finishing line. The month of August always culminates with a torch light procession, beginning in Bridport as the evening draws in, and thousands of holidaymakers and locals buy flaming torches and walk to West Bay, illuminating the sky as they go. West Bay and the coastline are part of the Coastal Path. The cliffs are falling away and crumbling, making some areas dangerous, both on top of the cliff and underneath. Always respect the warning signs and follow the diversions as instructed. You’ll still have amazing views to feast your eyes on. West Bay is a perfect place for a day trip, for families, a romantic weekend, fossil hunting and a full week’s holiday as a base for seeking out the many Dorset villages, beautiful countryside and a coastline to marvel at and remember forever. Apart from the official Bridport and West Bay website, which will give you plenty of hints and guidance informing you of the places to visit and stay, there are amateur, professional and educational sites published on the web. Put in ‘Bridport West Bay Dorset’ into a googling good search engine and research for yourself. I stand on the cliffs at West Bay and look out over the sea, the light is pure, the scene before me is emotionally fulfilling. My life is good. I have a man I love and I
have a ‘Special Place’ again, and I think of Lamorna, and a Cove.