The charming coastal community of West Bay has gone by many names over the years. Originally known as Bridport Harbour, West Bay rocketed to fame back in 2013 as the fictitious town of ‘Broadchurch’ in ITV’s award-winning drama staring David Tennant and Olivia Coleman.
Needless to say, the only thing dramatic about real-life West Bay is its impressive chalk cliffs. In reality it’s a peaceful community centred around a working harbour, where colourful boats bob on the water and seagulls prey on ice-cream cones.
The Station Kitchen is quite possibly one of the quirkiest restaurants we’ve ever encountered. As its name suggests, it’s housed in an old railway carriage and boasts rustic-chic interiors as well as a creative menu that caters for all. As you’d expect from a coastal community, Station Kitchen champions British seafood and Dorset produce, as well as offering a ‘Little Loco’s Menu’ for under-10s.
For the freshest seafood around head to Rachel’s. During summer, this unassuming little kiosk is open Wednesday – Saturday and is a favourite of West Bay locals. If you’re lucky enough to get seated, you can look forward to their legendary prawn platters and freshly caught crab dishes. Everything is amazing value for money and it can all be washed down with a glass of chilled wine. Of course, there are dozens of other foodie kiosks lining the harbour, with everything from jacket potatoes to Baboo Gelato on offer.
Hunger satiated, we suggest you hit the beach. But don’t expect soft sands underfoot. West Bay is a shingle beach, meaning you’ll be emptying teeny tiny stones from your socks for a while after you’ve finished exploring. If you’re up for the trek, we suggest heading to the top of the iconic chalk cliffs, as the views are exceptional. Of course, it goes without saying that you’ll want to stick to the well trodden footpath and keep a safe distance from the edge.
Make sure you pay a visit to Sladers Yard during your time in West Bay. This private gallery is dedicated to supporting some of the most talented artists and makers working today. Inside is a beautiful and spacious exhibition space, where they showcase and sell contemporary British art alongside exquisite handmade furniture designed by Petter Southall. Exhibitions change throughout the year and there’s also an onsite café that sells delicious home-cooked and ethically-sourced lunches, as well as cream teas and cakes.
Not far from West Bay is the beautiful coastal village of Burton Bradstock, where you’ll find The Seaside Boarding House. Nestled on the Jurassic Coast overlooking Chesil Beach, its laidback vibes make it the perfect antidote to city life. Each of the hotel’s nine bedrooms are within sight and sound of the sea, many featuring large claw-footed baths and beds that have been handmade in nearby Devon. Since the aim of the game is relaxation, you’ll find no televisions in the bedrooms. Instead, you’re free to listen to the radio or get stuck into a good book.
Lead Image by Gabriella Dyson. Get more ideas for your next trip to Dorset in The Maverick Guide to Dorset.