A day out in Purbeck

A day out in Purbeck

Purbeck offers the visitor many sights and places of interest to visit. On the way from Weymouth, one drives near Moreton Tea Rooms, past Monkey World and the Tank Museum. We stopped off at Lulworth Cove (though we were not energetic enough to make the climb up to see Durdle Door). (We used some older photos here for this post)

When you reach Wareham, you should really stop and enjoy the interesting shops in the High Street, or the Roman Walls or the picturesque Quayside and its large, fine Pub. On some days, the lost village of Tyneham may be open (not the day we travelled, sadly). The village was evacuated on the orders of the Army during WW2 and remains an eerie and somewhat spooky testament to the upheavals of wartime. Tyneham can be reached, turning right from the main road leaving Wareham for Corfe Castle.

At Corfe Village, one can only marvel at the huge and imposing castle ruins, standing guard for many centuries over the locality. Head into the small and “cosy” Village Square for a choice of Pub (The Greyhound) or cafes to fortify you for the walk up to the ruins (entrance fee at the National Trust shop and Tourist Centre). Across the road to Swanage lies the Railway Station, with regular Summer trains from Norden to Swanage – often running magnificant Steam engines through the tight and twisty scenery of Purbeck.


Studland and Swanage

The Studland road from Corfe twists and climbs gradually to give a panoramic view towards Studland Bay, overlooking Brownsea Island, Sandbanks and Bournemouth. Turnings take you to Kimmeridge, with its “nodding donkey” oil wells and the nature reserve at Arne, with its splendid variety of birdlife. Other openings tkae you to beaches along the lower headland and eventually to the Ferry across to Sandbanks and Poole Harbour (toll road and Ferry fee applies). We turned South to Swanage instead.

Swanage is a small seaside resort, nestling by white chalky cliffs and with a narrow sand and shingle beach. The town is compact but absolutely buzzing with numerous quaint and fascinating shops, selling curios of all kinds. I guarantee, anyone could spend all day (and all the wallet) “grazing” among these little emporia. There is also a fine fish and chips shop and a doughnut stand in the tiny seafront Town Square, to relax and soak in the relaxing atmosphere. (But please don’t feed the seagulls – they are VERY friendly already!)

Moreton Tea Rooms – Perfect for a real Dorset cream tea

Moreton Tea Rooms

Dorset cream tea. Those words conjure up an image of a quaint little village, deep in the peace of the Countryside. Perhaps there is a little stream with a footbridge. Maybe also a church with a slightly overgrown graveyard. Throw in the grave of Lawrence of Arabia and you have Moreton Village and the Tea Rooms.

An easy drive out of Weymouth, through Warmwell to Crossways and along a leafy lane to Moreton, brings you to the Old School. Here lies the Moreton Tea Rooms and the gateway to Dorset cream tea heaven. When we visited, to celebrate an 80th Birthday and a Wedding Anniversary, it was a hot September afternoon. Wasps droned lazily among the flower beds but were kept occupied by wasp lures, thoughtfully hung around the gardens to minimise any vespine nuisance.

Inside the tea rooms, it is easy to imagine the Old School in its heyday but equally hard to imagine just how good the cream tea treat is that awaits visitors. We pre-ordered a range of sandwiches (4 different tastes in our group!) and were not disappointed. We enjoyed a feast of delights, starting with crispy sausage rolls and cheese-straws on the top deck. The middle tier comprised smoked salmon with cream cheese, ham and a variety of delicate triangles to tempt the palate. Finally, a selection of cakes to assuage our culinary lusts – vanilla and ginger scones, mini-chocolate cakes, flapjacks, brownies and Vicoria Sandwiches – all dainty and delicious.

The service was excellent – the food even better and the price – probably best of all. The whole was incredibly good value and well below standard touristy prices. Definitely worth a trip for anyone – although it is advisable to book a table beforehand, at least in high season.

Iron Man 70.3 Weymouth – 23rd September 2018

Iron Man 70.3 Winner 2018

Iron Man 70.3 Winner 2018

Iron Man 70.3 Weymouth was on 23rd September this year. The morning was pretty unpromising, with squally rain and strong winds. However, the weather brightened up as the day progressed. The male pro race was delayed till 7:20am, Femnale Pro till 7:22am and the bulk race started at 7:30am. Over 1,300 competitors took part. Below are some images from previous years.

Around 11:20, the overall winner, Elliott Smales, came past The Roundhouse Hotel next door and onto the Pavilion forecourt, to take first place. The winning time was just over 4 hours 3 minutes – not a record due to the prevailing conditions. Indie Lee from Winchester won the ladies Pro race in 4 hours 24 minutes.

Iron Man 2017 behind Aaran House

Iron Man 2017 behind Aaran House

The race starts at Preston Beach, with a 2km swim (only 0.9km this year). Then comes the bike ride around local villages, with a shorter but steeper course this year. Finally, there is the road race over 3 laps around Weymouth.

Iron Man 3rd place 2016

Iron Man 3rd place 2016

Iron Man legs like lead

Iron Man legs like lead

Waterfest Weymouth – looking back at 2014 to 2016

Weymouth Waterfest – filmed by Aaran House and donated to WHGLA.org.uk

Waterfest Weymouth – held in 2014, 2015 and 2016

Waterfest Weymouth took place in September, for 3 years, running from 2014 to 2016. Weymouth Bid sponsored the event, which included tall ships, gig racing and numerous demonstrations. There were exhibits of seaman crafts as well as rope and knots and how to identify them. Captain Jack Sparrow wandered about, chatting to visitors. Small yachts tacked back and forth across the Harbour. Gracing the waters were a number of historic vessels. These included Tall Ship Le Marite, the 1921 LT472 fishing smack Excelsior from Lowestoft, Sir Francis Chichester’s Gypsy Moth IV and TS Jack Petchey, among others.

gig rowing

gig rowing

Highlights of the event included “water-boarding”, but not like the CIA version. Here, water jets from a Jet-ski powered a hover board, propelling the rider 20 feet into the air in aerial acrobatics. There were also food and memento stalls dotted along the Harbour side.

Tall Ships in Weymouth Harbour

TS Royalist and TS Pelican of London

TS Royalist

TS Royalist is a training ship, She is a two-mast Brig, built in Spain at the at the Astilleros Gondan yards. The sailing ship honours the name of her sponsor, the Priness Royal and is the flaghip of the Sea Cadets. The ship boards up to 24 cadets and 10 staff and has her home port in Gosport, near Portsmouth. This present incarnation of the Royalist is a faster, sleeker design than previously, which permits better use of space and improved handling. Royalist is 32m long and 28m tall. Her IMO number is  9717369 and IMSI number is 235107983. Royalist's call sign is 2HZW6. Your author has sailed on the Pelican , around Weymouth Bay, an unforgettable experience.

TS Pelican of London

Pelican is another training ship, managed by "Advertures Under Sail". Built in 1948 as a steel-hulled recreation of French Clippers of the 19th Century. The ship is a square-rigger with an extra poop deck and is capable of ocean-wide voyages. Technically, she is a "Barquantine 3" rig, 35m long and 21m tall. Pelican can accommodate up to 32 trainees and 7 crew. IMO number is 5273329. Her IMSI number is 235057336. Call sign is MWAQ. Her builders, Chantiers et AteliersAugustin Normand, Le Havre, Normandy can be very proud of their work in this fine vessel.


Kaskelot and Bristolian


In 1948, J Ring-Anderson at the Svendborg shipyard in Denmark built Kaskelot as a 3 masted Barque for the Greenland Trading Company. Kaskelot is one of the largest wooden vessels still sailing. She is 47m long and 32m tall. Passengers can enjoy any of 8 cabins and there are several showers and facilities in addition. The ship has featured in a number of significant films, including Shackleton, Treasure and The Three Musketeers as well as Poldark. However, it was TS Pelican of London which attempted the recreation of Shackleton's ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic in 2014. Kaskelot details are: IMO - 5183120, IMSI - 235000132, Call sign - GDQK.

The Bristolian

The Bristolian is a modern super-yacht, built by Yachting Developments, Auckland, New Zealand. She has an epoxy-binded kevlar/carbon fibre composite laminate hull and grp superstructure.  The superyacht dates from 2008 and is 37m long and over 20m tall.  Bristolian accommodates 6 passengers and 6 crew. MMSI number is 235096432 and call sign is 2GDJ5. Cruising speed is 13 knots and the yacht is truly a breath of ocean-going luxury. The International Superyacht Society awarded Bristolian "Best in 24 - 40m class" in 2009. Overheard in conversation when moored in Weymouth, the recent refit may have cost as much as £8.4million!

Queen Galadriel and Liara

Queen Galadriel

Queen Galadriel is a converted trading vessel, built at Svendborg in Denmark in 1937. Originally the "Else", she was sympathetically restored and re-rigged as a Gaff Ketch in 1983 by the Cirdan Trust, for use as a youth sailing training vessel. She houses up to 16 trainees and 4 crew. She is 24m long and 28m tall. MMSI number is - 235015328 and call sign is - MCZD6. Galadriel often competes in the Tall Ships races to overseas ports. We think Queen Galadriel was one of the historic vessels present during the filming of "Dunkirk" in Weymouth Harbour (please accept our apologies if we are wrong).


The Liara was built in 2009 as a super yacht by Southern Ocean Marine in New Zealand. More recently, she has figured in sales listings at Boat International (2015) by Tim Langmead for Camper and Nicholsons at about €5.5million. Liara is a 9 berth, 3 cabin luxury super yacht fit for ocean racing, constructed in advanced composites, She is RINA Classified (Royal Institute of Naval Architects) and MCA Compiant (Maritime and Coastguard Agency).  The Liara is 30m long and cruises comfortably at 13 knots. Having seen the interior at close range, your author can vouch for the stunning decor and abundance of luxury trappings. MMSI is 376355000 and call sign is J8Y3915.

Nao Victoria and the four "Challengers"

Nao Victoria

Nao Victoria is a replica of the Sanish Carrack or "Nao", which Magellan used to sail around the World in 1522. In 1992, Fundacion Nao Victoria built the replica as a self-contained floating museum and demonstration of Elizabethan sailing practices and conditions. The replica has also toured around the World and served as an exhibition of "exploration" vessels in many countries. Nao Victoria is 25m long, with MMSI number 224123770 and call sign ECHH. She sailed into Weymouth Harbour in April last year and featured on-board tours and "pirates" singing shanties up till mid-May.

Tall Ships Challenge (numbers 1 to 4)

The Tall Ships Challenger yachts belong to a fleet of racing craft, intended to race globally in what is regarded as the "wrong direction". The vessels serve as training craft, operated by the Tall Ships Youth Trust. Each of the four yachts can accommodate up to 18 crew members and, here in Weymouth, we often see the whole fleet right behind Aaran House. Challenger details are: length - 22m, 27.5m tall, beam cutter rigging, steel hulls, laid down 2000,

Stavros S Niarchos and TS Royalist by night

Stavros S Niarchos

In 2000, the Sail Training Association built the Stavros S Niarchos as a 50m long, 37m tall brig with square rigging. Mr Niarchos was a Greek businessman and philanthropist who donated his yachts in the 1950's to take part in the first Tall Ships Races. Maximum crew complement is 67 (48 passengers/trainees). The ship was auctioned under Berthon/ later Eggar Forrester, management in 2017 and now sails under the name "Sunset". We do not know who are the new owners. Under the name Sunset, her details are: IMO - 9222314, MMSI - 248868000, call sign - 9HA4838, Maltese flag, home port London, currently believed to be in the Piraeus area.

TS Royalist by night

We see the TS Royalist quite often in Weymouth Harbour. Sometimes we are lucky enough to observe cadets in the rigging, furling the sails as she enters port. Sometimes, as in the above photograph, the mast lights illuminate the rigging at night, a beautiful sight.

Donkey rides on Weymouth Beach – Westhill Donkeys

Donkey rides on Weymouth Beach

We are now nearing the end of the Summer Season, so it seemed appropriate to mention the Donkey Rides. The rides have been delighting children (and Parents) for many, many years. The donkeys come from Westhill Farm, under new stewardship since 2011. The tradition has continued since the 19th century. The rides take place near the "Boat" beach cafe, at the Southern end of Weymouth Beach and just 100 yards from Aaran Guesthouse. The course takes riders 100 yards along the sands and back again. We think parents enjoy  watching just as much as their kids enjoy the riding the donkeys.

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TS Royalist in Weymouth Harbour – 27th August 2018 – 4:30pm

TS Royalist

TS Royalist is a Tall Ship, built in 2015 by Astilleros Gondan, designed by Acubens as a brig and is now the Flagship of the Sea Cadets, Named by the Princess Royal, she boards up to 24 Cadets ans 10 staff, typically on 6-day "missions". She is currently bound for Plymouth. Her identification details are : IMO = 9717369, MMSI = 235107983, length = 32m, beam = 8m, draught = 3m, Call Sign = 2HZW6

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Dunkirk filmed in Weymouth Harbour – 27th/28th July 2016

Dunkirk, the wartime evacuation, heavily involved Weymouth Harbour and the armada of small boats. Therefore, it was appropriate that Dunkirk, the 2017 movie, also featured the port. Today is the second anniversary since filming. The crew were present for a week, during which time they transformed Custom House Quay into a wartime scene, as if by magic.

Dunkirk props

Dunkirk props

The cast included Tom Hardy, Harry Styles, Aneurin Barnard, Cillian Murphy and Kenneth Branagh. Naturally, there were hundreds of young ladies watching the proceedings in the hope of catching a glimpse of Mr Styles! Christopher Nolan directed the movie, which depicted this pivotal moment of the War via 3 perspective stories. The evacuation sequences included several short scenes from the area directly behind Aaran House. In the war, up to 450,000 troops were to use the Harbour again as they set off for the D-Day Landings.

Evacuated troops – film scene

Half Marathon races in Weymouth

Weymouth Half Marathon filmed from Aaran House

Half Marathon races started in Weymouth a few years ago, as part of the Iron Man events. Now in its 5th year, the 20.3 kilometre race took place in June. The course ran from Lodmoor, around the town and seafront and back to Weymouth Pavilion, just 50 yards away.

Half Marathon competitor behind Aaran House

Competitor behind Aaran House

Just Racing sponsor the event. Up to 1500 competitors take part and there are numerous water and feedig stations around the course. In the Iron Man races, the athletes swim 2 km and cycle about 110km around local villages, before entering the running stage.

Aaran House – right on the sea front

View from Aaran House front door

Sea front flower bed 5 yards from Aaran House

Sea front flower bed 5 yards from Aaran House

Sea front guesthouses viewed 10 yards from Aaran House

Sea front guesthouses viewed 10 yards from Aaran House

The sea front in Weymouth stretches right along The Esplanade and right past Aaran House. When you step out of our front door, 5 paces brings you to the flower beds. From there, you can see all around, as in the short video above. In front, there is the 2.5 mile beach, the sea and the Bay, sweeping round to white cliffs. Left, there is the town frontage, consisting mainly of Georgian buildings, like Aaran House.

If you walk the 20 yards to the beach, you can turn round and see Aaran House and the other Georgian guesthouses. We all offer spectacular views and a warm welcome. Behind us is the historical and picturesque Harbour, always busy with fishing boats, yachts and tall ships.