Bridport is an attractive market town with wide streets and Georgian building. It is located close to a piece of Dorset coastline that has received a World Heritage designation as the Jurassic Coast. A lust green hinterland of small rolling hills, some with isolated and contorted shapes lie to the north of this west Dorset town.
Most tourists who visit Bridport are attracted to the coast. The little port of Bridport, now known as West Bay lies about two miles south of the town on the mouth of the River Brit. West Bay houses flank a harbour basin. A handful of fishing smacks are an anchor with pleasure craft alongside. Two projecting jetties protrude into the English Channel confining a narrow channel to the harbour. A steeply sloping shingle beach stretches for many miles to the east and west. This shingle beach, known as The Chesil, is the largest in the world. It is said to have been produced one night in a winter’s storm thousands of years ago. To the east the grey hulk of Portland hovers in haze unless it is an exceptional summers day. To the west the shingle gives way and Charmouth and Lyme Regis to rock pools, fossil strewn cliffs and landslides. Behind the harbour there are tents and camping opportunities in the flood plain field of the River Brit. Vertical sandstone cliffs, which can be climbed on grassy coastal paths, flank the harbour and its houses.
The ancient town of Bridport lies several miles inland. It was a centre for the sail cloth industry, making sails for the Royal Navy, and was known for its rope making industry. The legacy of the rope industry is that there are many long alleys known as rope walks. The main streets, laid out wide so that the rope may be worked on the pavement, form a “T”, of South, East and West Street. The local museum located in a Tudor building on South Street relates the story. It has exhibits of natural history and roman antiquity. Further south is the late medieval church of St Mary’s. Until 1987 with the completion of a bypass East and West street lay on the main road through south Dorset from Dorchester to Exeter. These distinctly Georgian streets are the main shopping streets of Bridport. In former years Bridport was a stopping point for stagecoach services to London. So, there are numerous coaching inns along the east west streets. The Town Hall is a grade one listed Regency building. It is on the junction of the South, East and West streets.
Bridport holds an annual arts festival and has many other events during the year, such as a carnival in August and a tradition of bathing at West Bay on Boxing Day.
Bridport is a a place for a stroll in the daytime, a place in which to stock up with provisions for a day at the seaside and a place with many special events throughout the year.