Welcome to Dorset Allsorts

We'll be posting a variety of facts and photos of whatever takes our fancy as we wander around Dorset. They may be of churches, buildings, visitor attractions or natural scenes – in fact there will be all sorts! We hope they will give you a glimpse of some of the sights this beautiful county has to offer.

Monday, 3 September 2018

The Great Dorset Steam Fair

This event is perhaps the biggest of it's kind in the world and has to be seen to be believed.  It's an old cliche, but there really is something for everyone.  The annual event lasts five days, always at the end of August so the August Bank Holiday can be used.  Traffic chaos is a given so be prepared, although it is worth it.  This year adult tickets were £22 although half day tickets can be bought.  Buying in advance gets you a discount too.  If you do one thing before you die... well at least put it on your bucket list!

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Three Okefords Rally

Dorset has its fair share of fetes and fairs, and this is a little gem.  It focuses on all things steam powered or mechanical but is a lovely day out and was only £6 to go in.  It's also much more 'manageable' that the Great Dorset Steam Fair which is almost too big to do in one day.

I like the quirky things that people collect and display, such as oil cans!

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Milton Abbas Car Festival

We attended the inaugural Car Festival at Milton Abbas which was apparently arranged in just 4 weeks, after a previously planned event failed to materialise. So 10/10 for the organisers who pulled this out of the bag at such short notice.

It wasn't well attended so Karen and I had the chance to talk to all the car owners we wished to.  And entrance was by donation, so only cost us a pound or two!  I believe they plan to hold it again next year, but let's wait and see.

Here are some photos we took:

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Stock Gaylard Oak Fair

Dorset has lots of different fairs and fetes throughout the summer, and this is one of my personal favourites as it is primarily about wood crafts.  It's easy to get to, and there's usually no queuing to get in.  The entrance fee is reasonable (£8.50 this year) and the site is so big you could spend all day there.  They have show grounds where you watch demonstrations and lots of little stalls to buy from.

The show runs every year in late August so Google it for details of next year's event.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Grave of Benjamin Jesty

In the churchyard of St Nicholas, in Worth Matravers, is the grave of Benjamin Jesty and his wife, Elizabeth.

While Dr Edward Jenner is the man regarded the world over as the man who discovered a vaccine for smallpox, one of the most horrendous illnesses ever, Benjamin Jesty, a Dorset dairy farmer, inoculated his family against the disease 22 years before Jenner’s discovery!

As a farmer he’s become aware that his workers who contracted the mild disease of Cowpox were protected from Smallpox.  Thus he gathered some pus from an infected cow and using a knitting needle ‘enoculated’ his family against the disease by inserting said needle into their flesh.

In recognition of his work The Vaccine Pock Institute commissioned this portrait which is now to be found in The Dorset County Museum.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

111 Turf Steps to St Catherine's Chapel

In the later 1700's the Earl of Dorchester, Joseph Damer, had a flight of 111 turf steps constructed leading from his home to St Catherine's Chapel, a building dating back to about AD 925.  I'd read about this possibly unique sight (in the world!) and ended up in the grounds of Milton Abbey from where they originate.  They are not open to use, and unfortunately have not been maintained well, although they are still there to see.

The steps cross a small road, and the bridge has a slope (on the right hand side in my photo) which looks like it was designed to accommodate these steps!  Certainly the bridge looks much younger than the steps.

Finally I half crawled up a very steep slope to see the Chapel itself.  I also took a photo from the top of the turf steps and you can see the Abbey in the distance.

The bridge that carries the steps over a road

The steps, from the grounds of the Abbey

The view from the top of the steps

St Catherine's Chapel

The Chapel in the distance 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Nodding Donkey

On a coastal walk recently we passed through Kimmeridge and saw this 'Nodding Donkey' which is the oldest working oil pump in the UK.  Not something you expect in Dorset!!

It is owned by BP and has been pumping oil since 1961.  At it's peak it produced 350 barrels a day, but now is down to only 65 barrels a day.  Still, no bad going after 56 years!

Sunday, 19 March 2017


Karen and I went to Worth Matravers for a walk and parking up, noticed 'Woodhenge' a few yards from the car park.  It's quite a sight and well worth going to see.  Apparently it's been there since 2015 when it was erected buy the local pub landlord.  It appears that because he didn't get proper planning permission he's got to take it down, possibly in 2017.  I think this would be a shame as it is stunning!  Try and get to see it if you can.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Gorcombe Extreme Sports Centre

Karen and I were walking around the Thornicombe area when we stumbled upon Gorcombe Extreme Sports Centre which is an impressive looking venture.  We spent some time watching a group of people race around on Quad Bikes but were also able to see the wide range of other actives they run. Unfortunately, on this occasion, we didn't have a camera with us so I've taken the liberty of using some of the photos from their website.

In all they run over a dozen different activities including archery, paintball and assault courses.

Monday, 2 January 2017

National Champion Plane Tree

We were quite surprised to discover that in the grounds of Bryanston School in Blandford are the largest broad leaf trees in Britain (and only a few in Europe are taller).  Three are particularly massive (over 45 metres each) and one London Plane tree is approaching 50 metres!
The walk through the school grounds is a nice one and takes you close to the River Stour.