January 25, 2018

We’ve arrived! It was a really easy trip to Wimborne Minster, which is tucked away just off the A31. It’s hard to believe this tranquil town is only 9 miles from the hustle and bustle of Bournemouth and Poole.


Our accommodation is a stunning, recently renovated 18th Century Gate House on the edge of the Dean’s Court Estate in the heart of Wimborne Minster.  It’s been in the Hanham Family for 500 years and is full of period charm. We booked it through Wanderlust Retreats. In the grounds of this country estate there are also two cottages and a Shepherd’s Hut sleeping 6-8, which are available to book.  Dogs are welcome.


It suited us especially as it was easy walking distance to the stylish boutique shops, bars, and restaurants of Wimborne Minster.  This is not just another high street with the same coffee bars and takeaways; this market town has atmosphere and thriving local independent producers.  We loved it already! 


We were a group of 12 people; 2 families with kids ranging from 10-18 years old.  That’s not an easy ‘weekend away’ to plan for, given the size of our group and the age range but pretty much from the second they jumped out of the cars, they were off! The house is full of character, nooks and crannies for the kids to explore BUT best of all is the ‘Media room’ and Jacuzzi! Yes…MEDIA ROOM and Jacuzzi!!! A kid’s dream (and we are not just talking little kids….the adult kids loved it too!)


On arrival we were greeted with a wonderful ‘welcome’ basket, filled with fresh apple juice, peanut butter, fresh bread and amazing brownies – all home made.  Most of this was provided by the on-site café, which is open to the public. Set in an old converted garage, it serves a selection of fresh, healthy and delicious food and we were impressed to discover that a lot of the ingredients were grown in their own kitchen garden.   It was thoughtful touches like this which helped us to feel at home very quickly.


The Gate House
The Gate House
The Gate House


Eating and Drinking in Wimborne Minster


So, having chosen our bedrooms and had a quick dip in the hot tub, we set off to check out Wimborne Minster and find somewhere to eat in the evening.


We saw a number of places to eat, which looked very appealing. ‘The Tickled Pig’ had an intimate feel and a wonderful seasonal, locally-sourced menu, ‘The Olive Branch’, was a larger restaurant and part of a chain, but centrally located, with parking, and there was something for everyone (even fussy kids) on the menu. We decided on ‘The Minster Arms,’ which had been recommended to us, and fortunately we managed to book a table for that night!    It turned out to be a great choice. Just a 3-4 min walk from The Gate House, ‘The Minster Arms’  boasts “elegant, rustic, honest food that flicks your senses from classic, nostalgic flavours to new, inspired dishes cooked by their amazing chefs”. The friendly staff didn’t flinch when we said we had a reservation for a table of 12. The pub had a cosy yet contemporary feel, mis-matched furniture and candles on all of the tables, which gave it a wonderful atmosphere. We arrived fairly early, so it wasn’t busy initially; a short while later it was packed, so we had been wise to book ahead. The menu offered enough choice for us all, including the veggies and fussy eaters.  An impromptu scoring at the end of the meal (for service, food and atmosphere) gave ‘The Minster Arms’ a well deserved 5 out of 5! 


After the meal some of the grown ups went on to the Tap House for an after dinner drink, another gem on the High Street.  This compact CAMRA bar was crammed to the rafters with people enjoying themselves, and sampling the range of real ales, wines etc by the light of candles and soft twinkling lights – very atmospheric!  We were lucky enough to grab a chair at the bar but it was standing room only (didn’t seem to bother anyone though, in fact I think it added to the fun).


The following morning was another chance to eat and why not, we are on holiday!  Fresh bread and pastries from ‘Le Petit Prince’  on the High Street, (and just a couple of min walk from The Gate House), was a fantastic way to fuel us for the excitement of a day on the beach at Studland. 




Minster Arms
The Gate House

Studland – Knoll Beach.


We set off for a wonderful and energising walk along the beach at Studland, admiring the view of Old Harry Rocks and marvelling at the various treasures, like mermaid’s purses, washed up on the beach. Fortunately, when our tummies started rumbling we arrived at the Knoll Beach- National Trust café, which had log burners inside and out! A welcome sight.  We sat outside and ordered coffee, hot soups and chips.  The views along the coastline and out towards the Isle of Wight, together with the sound of the sea and delicious food made this café a very special place to stop and eat, well worth the walk and reasonably priced.