To take: a drink, wellies, or strong walking shoes, a kite, a dog (if available), binoculars.
If the weather is fine, give your kids the challenge to climb the hill to visit this beautiful local landmark. It's not actually a difficult walk. Wrap up warm and get some fresh air!
Park in the beautiful village of Abbotsbury. At this time of year there is plenty of on street parking but beware, you may easily be sidetracked by the small galleries, shops and cafes which are dotted along the main street.
There is also a large car park attached to the Children's Farm in Rodden Row as you enter the village from the Weymouth direction.
Many of the cottages in West Street date back to the Sixteenth Century or earlier, can you tell which one's?
Ask your kids why they think the pavements are so high up? (most noticeable on the right hand side as you go back up West Street).
Get your bearings from the Ilchester Arms a large coaching inn originally,and possibly the haunt of local smugglers. Walk back along West Street from here, past the cafe and art gallery and you will come to Chapel Lane Stores and opposite it Chapel Yard Pottery, both on the left hand side. Between the two is Chapel Lane, which leads to St Catherines and also to the Swannery. Just make sure that you bear right and go up the hill when you come to the gate at the bottom.
St Catherine's is quite a steep climb up ( and here you will appreciate having wellies/walking shoes!) but when you reach the top you will be rewarded by the most amazing views over The Fleet, (look out for the swans!) and Chesil Beach down to Portland,and the countryside and coast as far as Lyme Regis and Seaton on a clear day.
In my second children's book: The Spy, Will sees a dogfight taking place above him on this hill, as he is transported back in time to the Second World War. A German plane nose dives and crashes into the Fleet. This part of the coast was subject to a lot of activity in WW2, and German bombing, especially over Weymouth. ( the next blog includes an extract from the book.)
On a windy day, enjoy flying a kite, and obviously a visit to the fourteenth century chapel is a must. Strangely it feels much smaller inside.
Tell your kids about the legend of St Catherine. Who will they marry? On the way back watch your kids, and dog's legs try to keep up as they run down the hill.
After this blow out, and to warm up, a wonderful option is a cream tea in front of the roaring fire at the Ilchester Arms. www.theilchester.co.uk There is a family area too, complete with games and a TV and X box! There are all sorts of wonderful home cooked meals available too, the Yorkshire Pudding on my son's Sunday roast plate nearly made his eyes pop out!
No 2:Wander at West Bay
You can park along the front, or by the harbour in the winter and you have plenty of flat, wide pavements and three piers to choose from to get a good dose of sea air. If it is blustery, so much the better as the kids will enjoy dodging the spray and waves that come up over the breakwater. See what the boats bring in and if the fishermen on the pier have landed anything. The views are amazing along the cliffs, which you might feel intrepid enough to walk up (please stay back from the edge as there have been recent rock falls). Or on a fine day head down onto the beach with an ice cream, sheltered by the high sea wall.
For adults its a chance to spot locations which have featured in Broadchuch: David Tennant's house is on the river from Series 2, and if you walk to the end of the old pier (on your right as you face the sea, you can just see the house on the cliff at Eype where Danny Latimer was supposed to have been killed. Can you spot Charlotte Rampling's house, and the place where Danny was found?
If you are feeling cold by now, and in need of liquid refreshment, Cafe Ellipse (opposite the new pier and causeway) serves a mean hot chocolate, and also doubled as the police station in the first series of Broadchurch! www.ellipsewestbay.co.uk Inside there is an extremely cool blue bar, and it is a great spot from which to people watch and read the papers. There are also many kiosks either side of the harbour, selling a great selection of food and drinks. Our family favourite are hot, fresh doughnuts, laden down with ice cream and toppings, known as Volcano Ice. Yum!
No 3:Lyme Regis Amusement Arcade.
(open every day apart from Christmas day!)
Armed only with a pocket full of loose change, you can have great fun and maybe even a win or two. There are the traditional slot machines and fruit machines, toy grabbers and air hockey. Infact something for everyone.
If the sun comes out, head out onto the gorgeous sands of the bay and build a winter sandcastle - very satisfying! The weather can be incredibly mild at this time of year, and believe it or not we have been on the beach in February playing football amongst kids paddling and even a bikini clad lady sunbathing!!
If you are not so lucky there are several great restaurants and pubs, and kiosks which sell great chips, ice creams and my son's favourite - slush puppies. There is even a stall which sells whelks, cockles and eels, near the harbour car park.
If you feel like a walk, brave the famous Cobb sea wall, but beware the waves that are likely to send spray over at this time of year. You will also need to adopt a crab like walking motion.
See if the kids can identify Monmouth Beach, and tell them the story of King Charles' landing there and the Monmouth Rebellion.