With the summer holidays fast approaching, a 6 week diary to fill can be a daunting prospect for parents and grandparents alike. Never fear, Dorset Waterpark to the rescue with our top picks of free things to do in Dorset…
Pretend you’re on a Mediterranean getaway
One trip to Durdle Door will be enough to convince you that you never need to leave the Purbeck Isles again! The clay bed ensures gorgeous turquoise waters all year round and you would be forgiven for thinking that you were sunning yourself on shoreline of the Spanish costa rather than the Purbeck Isles. Pack up a picnic and wander down to the water’s edge - you’d be well advised to take a rucksack as the path down to the beach is pretty steep and arms free for extra balance is only a good thing! There are two separate bays to pick from and plenty of beach space on each. We would recommend Man of War bay on the left hand side for the swimmers amongst you as the water is slightly shallower and the waves less rolling!
Take a tour of the Broadchurch set
If you haven’t heard of Broadchurch, where have you been for the last 3 years?! Since it’s arrival on our screens in 2013, Broadchurch fever has swept the nation with it’s popularity. The fictional seaside town is more commonly known as our very own Bridport and the lovely folks at Visit Dorset have put together the ultimate tour guide leaflet, alerting you to all of the key filming locations. Yes, some may head to New York to do the Sex and the City tour, others to Oz for a walk down Ramsay Street…but we all know that the real fun takes place when recreating the Broadchurch title photo! Aside from the lure of location hunting, Bridport is a beautiful market town, with a bountiful beach to bask upon when your feet need a rest from sightseeing.
Go dolphin watching at Durlston Country Park
As a child I remember no greater thrill than the lure of watching the dolphins dancing through the waves of the South Coast. There is of course a great element of the luck of the draw as the dolphins can be somewhat elusive at times, but April through to July and October through to November tend to be the optimum viewing months. There are several species of dolphins that call Durlston ‘home’ the most common being the bottlenose dolphins - if you are especially lucky, you might also catch a glimpse at a pilot whale or grey seal. If you tire of waiting on the dolphins to arrive, you can always head up to Durlston Castle which has live wildlife cameras, interactive displays and an extensive family-friendly exhibitions. Alternatively, you can romp around the 280 acres of countryside to enjoy the nature trails (most of which are buggy friendly).
Complete your first 5k in Poole Park
ParkRun is the international, feel-good, family friendly, timed 5km run. ParkRun was started in 2004 and was founded on the principle that anyone can run 5km with enough encouragement and a lovely environment to run round. The Poole Park edition of ParkRun could not be truer to form - with the beautiful lakes and perfectly kempt cricket pitches to act as a backdrop to your early morning jog, you couldn’t ask for a more idyllic setting. There are a fantastic bunch of volunteers working for Poole ParkRun who will helpfully assist any nervous first time runners and add to the enjoyable and family-centric atmosphere. Poole ParkRun really is a fantastic way to get active as a family, and any exercise completed before breakfast on a Saturday morning is enough to feel justifiably smug for the remainder of the weekend!
Go bouldering on Boscombe beach
Dorset plays host to an incredible array of climbing options and opportunities, from cliff climbs along our magnificent coastline to indoor climbing centres such as Project Climb there truly is something for everyone. If you are looking for your first step-up onto the climbing ladder, then Boscombe Beach might just be the place for you, as it is home to a beach-based climbing challenge! Open and free to use, this fantastic feature offers bouldering challenges with various routes to climb, up, down and traverse across. Each boulder is shaped to resemble a local landmark such as Old Harry or Agglestone Rock and all look very natural, situated next to the pier. If your hands begin to tire, you can always put the rest of your body through it’s paces by wandering along the seafront, completing the free fitness trail as you go! With a combination of exercises intended to work upper and lower body and abs, your walk along the beach can become a body blast in no time!