Places to stay: the Old Dairy House, Dorset

Conjure up the perfect English cottage and it might look rather like the Old Dairy House, one of Original Cottages’ gorgeous places to stay.

Dorset cottage review

A stay at the Old Dairy House, Arne

A few months ago a gaggle of friends and I stayed at the loveliest cottage. On the edge of Purbeck in Dorset you’ll find the Arne Peninsula, and at the edge of that, the tiny village of Arne. And at the edge of that you’ll arrive at this wonderful sprawling cottage, which feels like uncovering a secret and looks like a throwback to the glory days of the Famous Five. The Old Dairy has been stood here a while – it’s almost 500 years old and dates from 1560 when, unsurprisingly, it was a working dairy. Everything about the house is on the charming side – outside are pastel blue windows and flowers creep up the walls, inside is all warm, wood-clad rooms. Downstairs there are two roomy sitting rooms, each with log stoves and squashy sofas perfect for chilling out with a book. There’s also a low-ceiling-ed dining room and a farmhouse kitchen. Upstairs, bedrooms are snug and cosy and look out over the lawn.

Dorset cottage review

A weekend at the Old Dairy feels more like staying in someone’s family home than a holiday cottage – a big family home, though, as the Old Dairy is perfect for groups of up to eight. A gang of us stayed for a weekend in late March, just in time for the last of the long winter to dissappear and flowers to start to bloom in the cottage’s huge garden.

The garden was one of my favourite parts of the Old Dairy – it’s huge, but is broken up in the separate sitting areas perfect for lazy breakfasts. It also sports a barbeque, a big table for eating together and even a view down to the sea on a clear day. Clear days weren’t very forthcoming during our trip, and it poured with rain for a lot of our stay. but that just made staying indoors with the fires blazing all the more appealing, and we made good use of the big piles of games and books dotted around the cottage.

Dorset cottage review

And if you can tear yourself away from the cottage, all of Dorset’s delights are on your doorstep. You can walk straight to Poole Harbour, explore Arne Nature Reserve, which is on the doorstep, or if you’ve got a car, head for the coast. We drove over to one of my favourite places in the world, Dancing Ledge, and went for a hike along the cliffs, watching angry ocean waves crash against the rocks, before heading for pints of cider and pasties at the Square and Compass, one of my favourite pubs on the planet. A recipe for a very happy weekend.

STAY THERE: The Old Dairy House costs from £862 for a week and sleeps eight, plus one dog.

Dorset cottage review

Dorset day out favourites

Explore Dorset The Girl Outdoors

RSPB Arne nature reserve: Just down the road from the cottage is the beautiful wild heathland of Arne, home to rare bird species and perfect for rambling around. A sprawling 586 acres of heath and ancient oak woodland, you could spend all weekend just exploring here and still only see a small slice of it.

Dancing Ledge, Swanage: So called because when waves wash over the ledge’s horizontal surface it seems to undulate, this once heavily quarried bit of coastline feels like it was literally cut out of the rock. It’s only a few miles along the cliff path from the village of Worth Matravers but feels far removed from modern life. I love swimming in the tidal pool cut into the ledge here – at low tide it’s the perfect place for a dip.

Durdle Door: It’s popular on sunny days but so iconic that it’s worth a visit. This mindblowing limestone arch is a wonder to behold, and if you fancy a sea swim there’s nothing like swimming right through it on calm days.

Square and Compass: My favourite pub in Dorset overlooks the far-off sea and serves pretty much three things: cider, pasties and Dorset apple cake. A must-visit if you’re climbing or hiking along the coast, or after a swim at Dancing Ledge.

Explore Dorset The Girl Outdoors

Explore Dorset The Girl Outdoors

Follow:
Getting adventure kit ready with GO Outdoors Bristol

Getting adventure kit ready with GO Outdoors Bristol

I popped in to the brand new GO Outdoors Cribbs Causeway store for an explore and to hunt out some new camping kit. GO Outdoors is one of my favourite one-stop shops for outdoor essentials at pocket-friendly prices, so I&…
View Post
My favourite Urban Sanctuaries with Victorinox

My favourite Urban Sanctuaries with Victorinox

I may be obsessed with time spent in the great outdoors but the reality is that I spend most of my days living and working in a city, so Victorinox challenged me to share my favourite urban sanctuaries. These are&…
View Post
One Last Breath – safer wild swimming in Wales

One Last Breath – safer wild swimming in Wales

Fancy a cooling dip this summer? Learn where is and isn’t safe to swim with Welsh Water’s One Last Breath campaign and then take a swim at one of my four favourite spots in Wales. Wild swimming is …
View Post
Wild camping: finding the confidence to go solo

Wild camping: finding the confidence to go solo

Gain wild camping confidence: dreaming of sleeping solo under the stars but not sure if you’re brave enough to wild camp alone? I feel you! Here are my thoughts on gaining the confidence to give wild camping for one …
View Post
Review: the MSR Hubba Hubba two-man tent

Review: the MSR Hubba Hubba two-man tent

MSR Hubba Hubba review: Meet my all-time favourite backpacking tent, the MSR Hubba Hubba two-man tent, £300. MSR Hubba Hubba review I’ve had a few people comment on the sudden explosion of photos of my shiny new tent on Instagram,&…
View Post
Ryvoan, the perfect beginner bothy in the Scottish Highlands

Ryvoan, the perfect beginner bothy in the Scottish Highlands

Last week I ticked a big one off my adventurous bucket list – sleeping solo in a bothy in the Scottish mountains. Bothies, in case you haven’t come across these lovely things, are small mountain refuges dotted amongst Britain’s …
View Post
WIN a copy of The Girl Outdoors book

WIN a copy of The Girl Outdoors book

Win a copy of The Girl Outdoors I still can’t believe I wrote a book! Publishing The Girl Outdoors has been one of the best things ever to happen to me, mainly because of how wonderful it has been …
View Post
High altitude mountain adventures to challenge you

High altitude mountain adventures to challenge you

Ready to get high? A high-altitude mountain trek makes for the ultimate adventurous challenge. Multi-day hill hikes can be physically tough, but they always come with an amazing reward for your efforts – the pure joy of reaching a summit…
View Post
Lovely new stuff for spring

Lovely new stuff for spring

Morning sunshine! Getting ready for a spring and summer of little adventures? Pack the best new camping kit in my favourite new rucksack, get on my new go-to bike and go exploring. COVETABLE KIT Trakke Assynt 17 rucksack, £175 Ooh,…
View Post
The Girl Outdoors, the book!

The Girl Outdoors, the book!

INTRODUCING THE GIRL OUTDOORS BOOK I wrote a book! I’m so happy to show you The Girl Outdoors, out now on Amazon and in bookshops. It’s published by Bloomsbury Publishing UK and is available to order in paperback …
View Post
Interview: Epic Elise Wortley treks the Himalayas

Interview: Epic Elise Wortley treks the Himalayas

Just in time for International Women’s Day,here’s my interview with inspiring adventurer Elise Wortley, who is following in the footsteps of legendary female explorer Alexandra David-Neél in the Indian Himalayas with an all-female team. Meet Elise …
View Post
Why I’m in love with surfing

Why I’m in love with surfing

It was the coldest day of winter and I had decided that meant the perfect time to go for my first solo surf. I psyched myself into pulling on my cold, damp wetsuit, chucked my board in the boot of&…
View Post
Outdoor adventures with the Anevay Frontier stove

Outdoor adventures with the Anevay Frontier stove

Okay, so I’m a tiny bit in love with my new Anevay Frontier stove. Much of the outdoor gear I test and use is functional, but it’s a real pleasure when something comes along that is both practical …
View Post
Four one-pot camping recipes to make on an Anevay Frontier stove

Four one-pot camping recipes to make on an Anevay Frontier stove

I’ve been fine-tuning my favourite campfire recipes on the wonderful Frontier stove from Anevay – this portable wood-fired beauty means you can cook up one-pot wonders anywhere you roam. Four favourite one-pot camping recipes Camp Pancakes, makes 10 No more…
View Post
Review: Fjallraven Nuuk parka

Review: Fjallraven Nuuk parka

Fjallraven Nuuk parka review: Oh hello Storm Emma! Feeling the cold bite? Get cosy in the snow in Fjallraven’s Nuuk parka, £420.
View Post