A Couple Of Eating Suggestions In Burton Bradstock

Three Horseshoes Pub

We’ve just come back from a long weekend in West Bay. We ate out a couple of times, coincidentally both times in nearby Burton Bradstock. We really enjoyed the two meals so I thought I’d highlight them here.

The Three Horseshoes

It’s only a five minute drive but on a lovely sunny Sunday January morning it was good to walk. There are a few different routes to get to Burton Bradstock. This time we started by walking up the old railway line from West Bay towards Bridport. Then we turned off to go around North Hill before coming down the other side into Burton Bradstock village. It was rather a muddy walk though several fields. We’d spent a while trying to scrape the mud off our boots but a sign saying “muddy boots allowed” when we arrived at The Three Horseshoes was welcome. It’s a lovely old stone-built thatched building (see photo above).

We’ve read good things about the pub and been keen to try it out for a while. However forward planning isn’t our strong point and each time we’ve tried to book we’d left it too late. This time we’d been luckier, although only just, a midday slot available. We sat in the restaurant part of the pub near a fire burning away in the wood burner. It all felt pleasant and comfortable. We shared a starter of bread with tapenade, oil vinegar and garlic butter with a pint and a cider. Yummy.

Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock Starter

This was followed by the best Sunday roasts we’d had in ages and we’ve had quite a few! Both the beef and the lamb were delicious. They came with a big Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and a good selection of vegetables included cheesy leeks. There was even a jug of extra gravy.

Three Horseshoes Burton Bradstock Sunday Lunch

We were tempted by the puddings but were both pretty full by then so decided we’d  reward ourselves with an ice cream when we got back. We planned to go back along the coast path but it is still shut so instead walked through the golf course. And yes, we did have room for a Baboo Geleto ice cream back in West Bay. Thinking about that Sunday lunch I’m already looking forward to returning to the Three Horseshoes soon, just need to make sure we plan ahead.

Hive Beach Café

Two days later we were back again in Burton Bradstock. This time we drove to Hive Beach for lunch at the Hive Beach Café which is right by the beach. Arriving early we went for a walk up the hill next to the cafe, along to Cogden Beach and then back along the beach. The weather was rather grey that day and the sea looked grey too.

We’d booked into the cafe to take advantage of the Silver Surfers menu. It’s available on Tuesdays and Thursdays, two courses for £15 or three for £20, with a set menu which has a choice of three starters, three mains and a couple of deserts. I think it changes weekly. We thought it was for Over 55’s, one of the few benefits of getting older, but it did seem that anyone could have it if they wanted.

Hive Beach Cafe Silver Surfers MainMy husband went rogue and ordered the sardines main course but I stuck with the offer and had the fish main and a chocolate sundae pudding. The fish was stone bass, something I’ve looked up afterwards and it turns out it is a chunky fish with a huge mouth and a grumpy expression. I was oblivious to this when it arrived on my plate. It was a chunk of mild-flavoured, quite meaty fish. To be honest I find it hard to tell one white fish from another but it tasted nice and came with potatoes, shallots and leeks, plus a creamy puree. I was hungry and forgot to take a photo before it was rather too late!

The chocolate sundae, a mix of ice cream and cookies, was big enough for two. All in all, good value.

So there we have it, we come home pleased with our Burton Bradstock lunchtime choices and happy to recommend them here.

Has this whetted your appetite for a break away in West Dorset? If so you can get more information on staying in our cottage here. Head to our Enquire and Book page for availability, the rates and how to book.

Things To Do Around Bridport On A Rainy Day

Bridport Weather

The weather forecast takes on an extra significance when you’re on holiday. You don’t want to see grey clouds and raindrops. We hope you’ll be spending your holiday under clear blue skies but help is at hand if rain does make an unwelcome appearance. Read on for some local attractions and activities that are perfect to make the most of a wet and windy day.

West Bay Pier In A StormYou may believe that there is no such thing as the wrong weather, just the wrong clothes. Indeed we’ve been out in a gale with near horizontal rain and waves crashing over us on the pier and it’s been a lot of fun, rather salty and very memorable. But this post is not for the (foolhardy?) all-weather adventurers, it’s for people who want to stay warm and dry, especially if you have a family to entertain who may not share a love of the great wet outdoors.

 Go Ten-Pin Bowling

The Jurassic Fun Centre at Freshwater Beach Holiday Park in Burton Bradstock has six full-sized American 10-pin bowling lanes. Do ring to book ahead.

Go Swimming

You’ll not stay dry but you will keep under cover if you go to the Jurassic Fun Centre to visit their indoor pools, best for younger children with slides and other water features. Again ring to check availability and book.

Bridport Leisure Centre has a 25-metre, six-lane main pool.  They also have fun sessions with inflatables, see the timetable on their website.

Visit A Soft Play Centre

If you’ve small children then rain doesn’t need to stop play with several indoor soft play areas in the area.

Bridport’s latest indoor soft play centre is the Reef Soft Play at Seal’s Cove. Suitable for primary school children (aged 12 and under) it has a sectioned off specifically for children aged 0-3 years. Also at Seal’s Cove,  for older children (from 5+) and adults,  is Jurassic Ridge, South West’s newest indoor climbing centre. The centre has routes for beginners and stronger climbers too. You can grab a drink and watch all the action from the viewing galleries too.

Vurlands Soft PlayVurlands Animal Farm and the Eggcup has a soft play area in their Play Barn. Their tearoom serves delicious home-cooked lunches and cream teas.

Highlands End in Eype has The Little Fire Station Soft Play area for children aged 6 and under.

The Community Waffle House in Axminster has created a small indoor soft play area for under 4’s. They also have some retro computer games older children can enjoy, plus a library of board games. Not forgetting the waffles of course.

See A Film

In Bridport the Electric Palace shows films occasionally. The nearest multiscreen is the Odeon in Dorchester.

Visit A Museum

Tank MuseumStill looking for something family friendly? We have the award winning West Bay Discovery Centre just a few minutes walk away but if you want a day trip there’s loads of museums in Lyme, Dochester and beyond. Have a look at this blog post  and pick out a suggestion or two that suit a rainy day.

There’s also this post with things to do in East Devon, including the Beer Quarry Caves. It doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you’re in a cave!

Enjoy Some Live Music

Have a look at what’s going on locally. Check out the guides for the Electric Palace and Bridport Arts Centre. Many of the local pubs and bars have live music regularly too, with some starting in the afternoon at weekends. A good bet is The Ropemakers. Look at  Lemonrock to see listings for the area.

For Antique And Vintage Lovers

Customs HouseIt may be too wet for the alfresco courtyard café but you will stay dry wandering around The Customs House Emporium, housed in an old listed warehouse near East Beach in West Bay. Lots of individual traders sell an eclectic mix of stuff, both old and new.

Antique and vintage lovers should also make a beeline to The Alleyways Bridport Antiques Centre in the Art & Vintage Quarter on St Michael’s trading estate in Bridport. It has 50 traders under one roof and is open every day.

For Art Lovers

From The Alleyways you can also visit the large art gallery Global Art Galleries and Bridport Vintage Warehouse at Unit 61. It has paintings for sale by a range of different artists with an eclectic and extensive number by the world’s most prolific reformed art forger, William ‘Billy The Brush’ Mumford. Painting versions of the works of many famous painters and passing them off as originals, he was eventually jailed for two years after putting more than £6 million in fake works through some of the art world’s best-known auction houses. He now recreates pieces legitimately under his own name.

Sladers Yard - the beautiful Memory ChestJust around the corner from the cottage the art gallery at Sladers Yard sells contemporary British art, very lovely and expensive handmade furniture designed by local craftsman Petter Southall and designer craft by leading artists, designers and makers. Downstairs you can eat locally produced lunches, snacks and cakes in the gorgeous rustic café.

You can shelter from grey skies within the white walls and vibrant works of Artwave West, a contemporary art gallery based in Morcombelake, Dorset, just a short drive from Bridport. The gallery exhibits a frequently changing, collated and diverse range of British and international award-winning contemporary artists.

For Beer Lovers

Palmers Brewery have been brewing ales non-stop since the 18th century in the lovely old thatched brewery on the way into Bridport from West Bay. Take a tour and as you walk through the buildings you will learn about each of the stages involved in the process before a spot of beer tasting at the end. Tours run daily at 11am, Monday to Friday all year round and last two hours. Book in advance.

Put Your Feet Up!

Wood burner lit!Of course, you could always stay dry and warm by staying in before venturing out when the rain dies down. Light the woodburner and relax with a good book perhaps, you’re on holiday. If you’ve read all this and haven’t yet booked accommodation for your trip to the area, we’d love to welcome you to West Bay Cottage. Take a look inside the cottage if you wish, or head to our Book With Us page for availability, the rates and how to book.

West Bay Cottage Update Autumn 2021

West Bay Cottage Update Autumn 2021

I’ve just spent a nice long weekend at our cottage and thought I’d write a little about it here. I’m surprised it’s been so long since my last post. At this rate it will be an annual event. So here’s what’s been going on with West Bay Cottage this year.

The start of 2021 coincided with another lockdown which meant our first visit to the cottage wasn’t until April. We finally took down the Christmas decorations.

In May I had a solo trip to do a bit of painting. In the cottage, not landscapes. After much deliberation I repainted the kitchen cupboards exactly the same colour that they had always been. Afterwards I treated the kitchen to a new toaster and myself to a G&T.

A visit in early June we walked along the cliff path to The Anchor Inn in Seatown for lunch. It was so unexpectedly hot we got quite sunburnt on the walk. The pub is in such a nice spot with great sea views from the terraces. Walking back we wondered why all the cows stand so near to the cliff edge.

Cows on the edge near West Bay

Later in June we bravely left our teenage daughter and a group of her friends home alone in the cottage for a few days. I’m glad to say that they, and the cottage, were all in one piece when we returned. Watch this and you’ll see why that’s quite lucky!

On to August and we spent a whole week in West Bay. Apart from going out on a paddleboard a couple of times, the main excitement was the replacement of the front door. The new door looks just like the old one, it has to as the cottage is Grade II listed. Unlike the old one it isn’t full of wood filler. Funnily enough I returned last week to find that Henry, aged 11, had written in the kid’s guest book this summer (big thank  you to Henry for his effort) and had a lot to say about the new door. Brute force and and a run up required to shut it!? We were warned that the new draught excluder strip would take a while to compress but it isn’t very hard to close, honestly!

Henrys comments

I spent last weekend at the cottage with my friends from college days. See this post for a write up of a similar weekend a few years ago. As ever, it involved lots of food and drink, and a little exercise too. On Saturday we walked the cliff path west before heading inland after Eype to have lunch at Downhouse Farm Garden Café. I forgot to take my phone so no photos but it was very pleasant and the walk means you feel you’ve earned your lunch, and the walk back means you deserve an ice cream from the Baboo Gelato kiosk too. That evening we had a takeaway from S&E fish and chips, it’s practically a tradition. On Sunday we went to the friendly Seagulls Restaurant for a good roast dinner, and couldn’t resist their yummy bread and butter pudding too. Book ahead.

Sunday Roast at Seagulls West Bay

I pottered about for a few days at the start of the week. West Bay was still busy but not as busy as I’d half expected, but of course schools are back now. One interesting sight was this big old ship in the harbour on Tuesday, called the Lydia Eva. It turns out it is quite a historic vessel, see here. Delving a little more I found out it was on its way to Lyme to appear in a Hollywood movie tracing the early life of Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka. It’s going to play the passenger steamer that brings Willy to England. See this link.

Lydia Eve in Bridport harbour

Continuing my stroll around the harbour I noticed that the catch from the Top Cat catamaran was being unloaded. I peered to see what they had caught. The crate contained something that looked like it came out of John Hurt’s stomach in the film Alien! Definitely something it’s best not to see until it’s served up on a plate. 

Catch Of The Day

Well that’s enough for now, thanks for reading 🙂

West Bay Cottage Update Autumn 2020

West Bay Cottage Update Autumn 2020

My last blog post at the start of the year marked ten years of owning our West Bay Cottage. No one would have guessed what Year 11 was about to bring. A trip to the cottage in early March and then lockdown meant we didn’t go back until July. We decided in May that if we could open the cottage in the summer at all it would be safest to leave big spaces between bookings. Once I’d arranged and rearranged bookings with that in mind it meant there were no gaps left for ourselves! So it was very nice to get down there again last weekend. Plus it gives me a few cottage related bits and pieces to update on here (which is a good thing as I’ve almost forgotten how!).

We had a lovely long weekend at the cottage in July, checked all was all fine, and gave it a late spring-clean. During lockdown we’d had all the windows refurbished by a local sash window company. They’d sent pictures of our renovated windows but it was good to finally see them in real life. They make such a difference to the cottage. A pleasure to open and close and no more rattling on windy evenings.

West Bay Cottage Garden in JulyAnother happy sight was outside the cottage. I was so pleased a lovely gardener had started to look after the front and back gardens last year. I hate to think what they would have looked liked left untended for so long. Luckily she loves gravel gardens and has made it much nicer and more colourful than my efforts ever could.

BadgersWhy the badger picture? During our July weekend we looked out of the front window late one evening and saw three small badgers running around. They were easy to see as they’d turned on our sensor light. How lovely we thought. Perhaps not so lovely we agreed after we’d got a message from one of our August guests saying badgers were getting into the bins. We hoped it was just a phase they were going through. This Sunday we woke up to find a bin turned over and fish and chips leftovers scattered. I’m hoping two bungees now secured on the lids will put a stop to this unruly badger behaviour. If you stay on our cottage please keep them on the bins and do let me know if you have another messy badger invasion, although we don’t have a Plan B yet.

UPDATE  – Our first guests after this reported that the determined badgers made a such a racket in the night they had to bring the bin inside, two big chunks had been taken out of a lid. Bungees not a success. We have a new plan, we are putting the bins in the garage for now.

British Seaweeds PosterThat weekend in March we ate at The Hive Beach Cafe. They have a shop in the cafe and I couldn’t resist this poster. In July we got to hang it up, half way up the stairs. What is especially nice is that a local Lyme company makes them using seaweeds collected at our beaches in Dorset as well as Devon and Cornwall.

Our lovely sheepskin rugDid you indulge in a little lockdown retail therapy? I told myself it was good to support some independent businesses in a small way but frankly it was more for my own gratification. The excitement of a parcel arriving! So I bought a couple of very tactile additions for the cottage. First, a super soft sheepskin rug. I put it in the cottage’s back bedroom this weekend and your feet just sink into it. I was tempted to bring it back home again. Also, a gorgeous feather duster. Why use a dreary duster when you can be cleaning the cobwebs away with one fashioned from ostrich feathers? When William Morris said his ethos for domestic life –  “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful”- he might just have been talking about these two lovelies.

Feather Duster

Well, that’s our cottage news. Fingers crossed we can remain open over the coming months, and for now we’ll be continuing with the big empty buffers between bookings for the peace of mind of guests, cleaners and ourselves too.

A Decade Of West Bay Cottage

First weekend at West Bay Cottage

For us the start of a new decade marks ten years of owning our cottage and running it as a holiday home. If you are reading this perhaps you would like to do the same one day? Here’s how it all started for us, and some things we’ve picked up along the way.

How it all started

Camping at EypeWe need to go back to the summer of 2009, while we’re camping in Eype, just down the coast from West Bay. No plan to buy a holiday home but I knew there was a cute looking cottage for sale in West Bay. I like to potter around estate agent’s websites occasionally, and we already loved West Dorset, in particular Bridport and West Bay. So we went to look at it, just for fun. We fell in love with it. Furthermore we could see the benefit of having our own little place in Dorset, near my parents. They were getting old and both unwell so it would make visiting them regularly easier. Plus the cottage was running as a holiday let already. We though we could do the same to cover its day to day costs. But really it wasn’t these practical thoughts that swayed us, owning a cottage by that beautiful coast and we’d be “living the dream”! We had to make up our minds quickly, the estate agent told us there were others interested. So we went for it, remortgaging our own house. We were lucky enough to win a nerve-racking sealed bidding process.

It’s ours!

We got the keys to the cottage in early November (see top picture). The first evening we arrived in a howling gale with water coming in under the door! The cottage had been renovated within the last couple of years and we had bought a lot of the contents as part of the sale. We didn’t expect we’d need to do much to get it ready for guests. As soon as we stayed in it we found there were some things that needed improving fast. New beds and hob were first on the list, and stopping the fire alarms going off all the time. This was soon followed by a new TV (and an aerial, as it turned out we were connected to number 3’s one!), some baby stuff, the wood burner, and bits and bobs like mats, rugs, cushions, towels, bedding, kitchen utensils, garden furniture…the list goes on. We refreshed it indoors with a coat of paint.

What do we need to do?

Our knowledge about letting out a cottage was non-existent. I bought a book and found lots of useful information on an online holiday rental owner’s forum, Lay My Hat. We swotted up on the legalities, including a fire risk assessment and booking terms and conditions. I put together a visitor’s book with all the information our guests might need about the cottage, and our favourite things to do in the area too. A couple of simple spreadsheets later and we were ready to keep a track of bookings though the year (oh the fear of a double booking) and record all incoming money and outgoing costs, a tax requirement.


Keep Calm and Book DirectWe needed a website and were happy the url westbaycottage.co.uk was available. We took some photos and planned the pages and what we wanted to say on them. That Christmas my husband set up a website (luckily he knew a bit about that sort of thing). We kept the same rental fees as the previous owners. A West Bay website advertised local holiday accommodation. We paid for a listing, linking to our website. An early decision was to keep things independent and look after the booking process by ourselves. Mostly to keep the costs down for us and prospective guests. A booking agency might bring in more bookings but we wanted to keep control and high occupancy wasn’t imperative.

The good times

Our website went live at the start of 2010 and it didn’t take long before we had a few bookings. I was nervous before our first guests arrived in March but I needn’t have worried. All was well. I was pleasantly surprised with the numbers of bookings coming in. The cottage was busy that first year, the numbers bumped up with family and friends wanting to stay there too. It turned out West Bay had a lot of fans, and this was before Broadchurch!

As the years went on we learned more about running a holiday home and streamlined the booking process. In 2017 I bit the bullet and created a responsive website. This was new to me but I followed online lessons on how to create a vacation rental website using WordPress. Daunting at first but quite fun. SEO remains a mystery to me but I started to share the odd Facebook entry, twitter comment and Instagram photo from West Bay Cottage. The course encouraged people to write blog posts, so I started to do that too. Mostly subjects I enjoy researching and find interesting about the area, like its history and the films and TV programmes made there. Statistics consistently show that the Dorset apple cake and Dorset knobs posts are the most read from google searches. Food wins hands down!

And a few not-so-good times

There have been a few stress-inducing times over the years. Late 2010 we had noisy builders next door, without warning, upsetting one set of guests. In 2014 a couple staying were very unhappy to find a camera crew on their doorstep. Turned out the Broadchurch team were filming a scene next door! We’ve had a few boiler problems over the years too. Just this New Year’s Eve we had to dash to the cottage to sort out the new “smart” thermostat. Very occasionally we’ve had a complaint. A couple of them with good reason and one or two not so much, a criticism about seagull feathers in the backyard springs to mind. It goes without saying that we want everyone to have a great holiday and find our cottage a pleasure to stay in. Even after ten mostly trouble-free years the worry that something might go wrong, or be found not up to scratch, still gets me. Being an off-site owner doesn’t help. The first thing I do when we arrive back at the cottage is read the comments left in the visitor’s book since our last visit. It’s so nice to read that people have had a happy time and enjoyed the cottage. It makes it all worthwhile.

Has letting the cottage covered the costs?

Yes, letting our cottage has enabled it to “pay it’s way” so far, with some thanks to Broadchurch for making West Bay even more popular. We put much of the profit back into the cottage. Lots has been replaced at least once, including all the kitchen appliances, the tiling in the kitchen and bathroom, stuff in the TV corner, the table and chairs, as well as less obvious things such as the electrics and the boiler. For us the opportunity to keep it as charming and practical as we can is definitely worth it.

A couple of tips for prospective holiday home owners

From another angleWe’ve learnt that staying there often ourselves is invaluable, although it’s not the relaxing time guests enjoy. We check up on things and do any repairs, replacements, touch-ups or deeper cleaning required. Plus I feel the need to return all the kitchen things to their “rightful” position and move things around on the kitchen shelf!

Anything we might do differently with hindsight? Ideally we’d like to live nearer to our holiday home. The same old car journey gets a bit boring. The expected journey time of three hours expands if the M25 is slow. We reckon the prospect of 90 minutes max travel time ahead would be much more appealing on a Friday evening. But the gripe is not really one to be levelled at our West Bay cottage, it’s more a negative aspect of living just north of London but loving West Dorset!

So my advise to anyone thinking of buying a holiday home is, if you want to do it purely for financial profit, it’s probably not worth it. But if you like making a place nice, running your own business and fancy faffing around with a website, then yeah, just go for it.

West Bay Cottage Update September 2019

Crab bucket

It doesn’t feel very long since my last update about the cottage, but I can see it was a while ago, around Easter. What happened to the summer? It was lovely while it lasted but seemed to go way too fast. Anyway, here are some photos of bits and pieces you’ll find new in the cottage since the spring. Bigger additions were a replacement boiler and a new microwave but they make for very dull pictures!

Beach and Barnicott Jar

New Clock

The only cat allowed in the cottage!

Gravel Border

Picnic bench - sit in the garden and feel like you are down the pub!

The first picture is a little Victorian pot, a very small addition to the new kitchen shelf. I got it in an eBay auction as I thought it would be nice to have a little bit of local history in the cottage. ‘Poor Man’s Friend’ was a popular ointment invented by Dr Giles Roberts in the 1790s. He was born in West Bay, then known as Bridport Harbour.

This bedside radio clock has a couple of USB ports at the back. In the summer we stayed somewhere that had an alarm clock with ports and thought it would be useful to have one in West Bay Cottage too. Just bring your phone cable and there’s no scrabbling around for a wall plug socket.

There’s a few Observer’s pocket books peeping out from the back. We have a secondhand bookshop locally and I find it hard to resist the occasional countryside or seaside one for the cottage.

The draught excluder is the only cat welcome in the cottage. It needed a home.

I am very happy that we now have someone coming in to tend and fill some gaps in the little front and back gardens. And even more happy that she loves gravel gardens 🙂

The final photo is our new bench in the back garden. When I visited at the end of July the old outdoor table and chairs were looking worse for wear. Luckily Groves up the road had this one bench left and delivered it the next day. Phew.