I moved to Wareham six months ago and have fallen in love with this lovely town! Having known nothing about it, I have heard that it has a bit of a reputation of being a 'stopping point' on the way to other, more glamorous or famous Dorset spots. Not the case! As we become part of the community, Squid the dog and I keep discovering more and more wonderful places to explore all within walking distance from my house so I thought I would share some, in the hope that it might entice more people to spend a little longer wandering wonderful Wareham! So here are ten (although actually more than ten!) things to do here- almost all dog friendly too!
1. Coffee and cake: A nice way to start the day is to visit one of Wareham's tea or coffee shops. Pootle along the main street and you'll see the Coffee Saloon, a popular branch of the Dorset chain where seats are few but the welcome is always friendly- for you and your dog! Nellie Crumb opposite offers a variety of fresh cakes and sandwiches to go with your drink, and a bit further up the road is the Salt Pig, a farm shop-cafe- restaurant where you can get a hearty breakfast made with beautiful locally farmed ingredients (which you can then take home with you)
2. Shopping: Wareham boasts a number of unique and unusual shops, stocked with locally made goods that you won't find anywhere else. A must see is the Purbeck Artisan yard, a treasure trove tucked away in a pretty little back street, which is brimming with beautiful items (and a certain new local artist's work ahem ahem!). Try the Creative Gallery, run by a collective of local artists, or Purbeck Living on the high street, a boutique of carefully curated homewares and there are plenty of other places to find almost anything you need.
3. Enjoy the river: This is actually lots more than one thing to do as there are so many ways to enjoy the rivers Frome and the Piddle from Wareham. Take a picnic down to the water meadows and watch dragonflies flit about. If you go a little further, there are some lovely deep spots for wild swimming too. Head down to the Quay where you can hire a boat or a paddleboard to get yourself on the water. An easier option is to take one of the river cruises, which also run from the Quay throughout the summer months. Afterwards you can enjoy a drink and maybe a bite to eat at one of the lovely riverside venues and watch the world go by. Or, simply take a stroll along one of the many river paths and see what nature you can spot. Which leads us nicely onto my next point..!
4. Nature spotting: Many of the areas surrounding Wareham are Sites of Special Scientific Interest, meaning it's a nature hotspot! Wareham Common, the meadows, the river, the forest... pretty much anywhere you venture off the high street, you're bound to spot some wildlife. Commonly sighted (or heard!) birds are herons, bearded tits, woodpeckers, cuckoos and goldfinch. Roe deer are a daily sight above the North Wall, and you can also see a whole variety of reptiles and insects- look out for the information signs dotted around on your walks for more clues!
5. Browse the markets: There's nothing nicer than slowly meandering through a market, chatting to local makers and producers, picking out your favourite items which you just know you can't get anywhere else. On Saturdays the Quay is bustling with local producers selling their wares, and look out for the Town Hall in the centre of town which has regular farmers and art and craft markets too!
6. Explore further afield: If you're staying a while, why not use Wareham as your 'home base' from which to explore more of what Dorset has to offer. You can catch the 'Purbeck Breezer' for a beautiful ride through the countryside, taking in historic Corfe Castle and stopping in Swanage for a paddle in the sea (and perhaps a sample of some local ice cream...!). Stunning Studland as well as Lulworth Cove and the famous Durdle Door beaches are only a matter of miles away, and attractions such as Monkey World, Farmer Palmers and Dorset Waterpark are great for entertaining little ones.
7. Get Historical: Wareham is a Saxon town with a rich history. Try walking the famous walls which surround the centre of the town, look across the countryside and imagine who may have stood there hundreds of years before. There are lots of pretty churches to admire as you wander, and information boards can tell you what happened right under your feet. Head to the town museum to learn much more.
8. Freewheeling: If you still have energy left- why not hit the road on a bicycle? The Isle of Purbeck is a excellent location for cycling, either on road or off. The area has everything from quiet winding country lanes to extreme off-road downhills (and ups!) and serious mud in the winter months. It's a fantastic way to explore the area, and I'd recommend heading to Wareham forest for a great variety of tracks, or to Arne RSPB Nature Reserve a few miles away for a nice ride and some bird watching at the end!
9. The Pictures: Go back in time at the Rex Cinema on West Street! This delightful old building has been in the entertainment business for over 100 years and showing films since 1927! You can enjoy a drink in the bar before heading in to watch your film, which begins with some local advertising which you won't want to miss!
10: Hit the pub: After all that, we come to my favourite on the list. The pubs! For a small town, Wareham has a great variety of pubs and bars and there is something for all tastes here. Head to the King's Arms for a real ale by the open fire and the best Sunday roast around- they also have live music nights so watch out for those! The Duke of Wellington has regular special offers and a pub quiz every Thursday, and Harry's Bar transforms every so often into a disco with a local DJ! Just take a stroll and you will see many more of the lovely places Wareham has to offer.