Sunday, 1 May 2016

Down Dorset Way... A Guest Post by Debbie Johnson

Today I'm welcoming Debbie Johnson to Books with Bunny.  Her new release Summer at the Comfort Food Café was published by Harper Impulse last Friday, and Debbie was keen to share exactly why she so loves Dorset in this guest post today.

Over to Debbie!

I must admit that when I booked our first holiday in Dorset, I actually secretly wanted to go to Cornwall, one of my favourite places on earth.

But with three kids and two dogs in the car, and the prospect of a lengthy drive from Liverpool, it seemed like a good compromise – a similar vibe, but with less time swearing on the motorway.

We headed off to our cottages near the village of Maiden Newton half expecting it to be a poor man’s Poldark country.

We couldn’t have been more wrong. Instead, we found a rich and varied county full of rolling hills, stunning countryside and of course a world-renowned coastline. We found pretty villages and wonderful pubs and gorgeous food. We found welcoming people, friendly faces, and heaven on earth for both the children and the dogs.

This is the land of Thomas Hardy and Tess of the d’Urbervilles; it’s Far from the Madding Crowd and it’s the French Lieutenant’s Woman and it’s Broadchurch. It’s absolutely bloody gorgeous, and I deny anybody looking down at Durdle Door in the morning not to fall in love with it.

We stay at Lancombe Country Cottages, a dog-friendly, family-friendly haven set between coast and country. Like Cherie’s properties at the Rockery, they’re wonderfully located – but unlike the Rockery, they are beautifully decorated inside as well!

Just a short drive away from there, you can find the resorts of Weymouth and Poole; Lyme Regis and West Bay, the Jurassic Coast and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Like Laura and her family, we never want to leave – but real life isn’t fiction, so we always have to!

It’s been wonderful creating a whole Dorset world for my characters to inhabit, and I hope you have enjoyed sharing their stories.

Sadly, the Comfort Food Cafe is entirely fictional – but the kind of beautiful view from its clifftop location are not. If you’re tempted to go and see for yourself, my friends at Visit Dorset have provided us with their list of the area’s Top Ten Views to Fall in Love With – and seeing is believing! 

1) Gold Hill, Shaftesbury – this steep cobbled street is famous for its picturesque appearance; the view looking down from the top of the street has been described as “one of the most romantic sights in England” and was made famous in the 1970s Hovis advert.

2) Hengistbury Head – this headland south-east of Christchurch was an important trading port even from the Iron Age but is now a Nature Reserve; stand on top of the plateau and you will see views of Christchurch Harbour, Mudeford, Isle of Wight and Bournemouth beach

3) Hambledon Hill – standing on top of this prehistoric hillfort situated near Blandford Forum gives glorious views across the Blackmore Vale. Nearby Fontmell Down offers similarly spectacular views.

4) Ballard Down – One of Dorset’s most attractive hills, Ballard Down offers fantastic views of the Dorset heaths, Poole Harbour and Old Harry Rocks.

5) Chesil Beach view near Abbotsbury – the coastal road from from Bridport to Abbotsbury (the B3157) offers wonderful views along the Jurassic Coast and just before you arrive in the picturesque village of Abbotsbury, Chesil Beach stretches before you with views to Portland.

6) Golden Cap –this is the highest point along the south coast of England and on a clear day, you can see to Dartmoor in Devon.

7) Hardy’s Monument, Portesham – erected in 1844, a monument to Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy who captained Nelson’s ship HMS Victory at the battle of Trafalgar and was born in Dorset; views across both heathland and the coast.

8) Swyre Head – the highest spot in the Purbeck hills near Swanage; the hill commands extensive views from the Isle of Wight to Portland.

10) Pilsdon Pen – Pilsdon Pen is an Iron Age Hillfort on the highest hill in Dorset and is only 30 metres short of a mountain! The hill offers sweeping views across the hedged landscape of the Marshwood Vale and is a perfect spot for a picnic.

You can find out more at, or connect with them via twitter @dorsettourism,, or‌visitdorsetofficial/.


  1. It's weird thinking of Hengistbury Head as a tourist attraction, it's a popular stretch your legs on a Sunday afternoon place for locals. I guess we just take it for granted living here :)