Abbotsbury is a golden village, full of thatched or stone-tiled cottages built of the local stone. It occupies an enviable position at the landward end of the glorious Chesil Bank which stretches all the way to Portland and encloses The Fleet – a brackish lagoon that is home to a flock of 600 mute swans that you can visit – especially popular in springtime when the adorably fluffy cygnets hatch. There’s also a children’s farm, a magnificent Tithe Barn, and the world-famous Sub-Tropical Gardens to visit. These valley gardens have a tranquil and lush beauty all of their own, and in autumn, evening openings feature striking illuminations highlighting the foliage.
It is the starting point for level walks along the shingle, or west to St Catherine’s Chapel – a romantic medieval ruin set on top of a hill overlooking the Fleet. St Catherine (she of the Catherine Wheel) was the patron saint of virgins, and tradition has it that local maids would visit the chapel and ask for her help to find a husband. Hardy walkers might like to set off up the hill for the iron age hill fort of Abbotsbury Castle, with its commanding views along the Jurassic Coast.