Michael Edwards visits two Dorset Hideaways, two stylish rural retreats at Salwayash
In most counties, piddle and wriggle are verbs. In Dorset, where they do things differently, the Piddle and Wriggle are rivers, honoured with capital letters, as they wend and wind their way through the landscape.
Many people have never quite got Dorset. When the 19th-century railway companies were considering new lines, shareholders opposed the expansion, arguing that there was little worth visiting in Dorset.
Year-round demand for the character properties offered by Dorset Hideaways emphatically shouts down the Victorian naysayers. Perhaps Thomas Hardy was Dorset’s greatest copywriter when he penned the words, “Far from the Madding Crowd.”
Two Dorset Hideaways, at Salwayash, a few miles north of Bridport, epitomise the essence of Dorset. A grassy lane, where primroses bloom in the banks, leads to Kingsland Farm. Current custodians Nick and Danette Morrish have performed a remarkable Grand Designs conversion that would have Kevin McCloud sucking in his cheeks in admiration.
In 2018, the Morrishs began work to transform a 1930s milking parlour, an ancient cart store and a two-storey granary into spacious and stylish self-catering accommodation. Recalling the early 19th century, when the seafaring Hood family lived on the farm, they called the two-bedroom property Hood’s. A Royal Navy sailship on glass celebrates the family’s heroic role in the Napoleonic Wars. Whilst the neighbouring apartment was christened Loaf to mark its granary heritage.
From the lounge, a panoramic window gives views across Marshwood Vale and the remnants of surrounding hill forts. In fair weather, the views from the deck towards Colmer’s Hill, with an al fresco lunch or drinks, are even more spectacular.
The light-infused, open-plan lounge flows into a dining area. Glossy coffee-table books echo the Morrish’s passion for architecture and interior design. Fern patterns on cushions and table lamps connect to woodland walks. Rugged rocks recall the geology of the nearby Jurassic Coast. A long head-height window, where once there were vents for the milking parlour, runs the length of the rear wall.
On arrival, we are greeted by a generous welcome hamper, mainly of local products: a very good bottle of Merlot clearly comes from a little further afield. Butter, cheese, eggs, and milk await in the fridge. Many a self-catering property could learn from Hood’s generous provision of aluminium foil, coffee, dishwasher tablets, olive oil, sugar, tea and cleaning supplies. This is a swish kitchen for MasterChef aspirations.
Both bedrooms have super-king beds that can also be separated into twin beds. The timber-beamed master bedroom has an en-suite bathroom whilst the second bedroom is adjacent to a family bathroom with bath, shower, and yet more views across Marshwood Vale.
As ours was a multi-generational, multi-species stay with baby and labrador, the provision of cot, high chair and dog crate meant that our journey to Salwayash was less cramped than it might have been.
Back to wine. A peaceful 10-minute walk leads to Furleigh Vineyard. Buzzards fly over the 65 acres where visitors can tour, taste and purchase. On the bookshelves, maps and guidebooks suggest longer walks. At the end of a trek, Hood’s neighbouring barn has an upscale dog wash: a roll top bath with dog shampoo.
Heading south, through Bridport, it is only a six-mile drive to the coast. Walking along the sands at West Bay, on a sunny day beneath dramatic Jurassic Coast cliffs, it is difficult to see how the directors of Broadchurch gave the beach such a brooding aura.
Dorset has always been a land of stories. Curated by the National Trust, Thomas Hardy’s birthplace reveals the influences that made the Victorian writer such a great and poignant novelist. Telling different and more warlike stories, The Tank Museum and The Royal Air Fleet Museum both make for full and fascinating day visits.
More surprisingly for the Dorset landscape 260 chimpanzees, monkeys and orangutans swing through the trees at Monkey World near Wareham. The rescue centre is a sanctuary for mistreated primates. Since 1987, Monkey World has collaborated with 28 governments to counter illegal primate trading and to give rescued apes a better life. Open every day of the year, apart from Christmas Day, the rescue centre attracts around 400,000 visitors annually.
Almost two centuries on from those Victorian doubters, today’s travellers appreciate the peaceful variety of Dorset, with Hood’s and Loaf providing supremely luxurious bases for exploring the county.
Tell Me More About Dorset Hideaways
Dorset Hideaways, Kingsland Farm, Salwayash, Bridport, DT6 5JF
T: 01929 448720 E: email@example.com
Dorset Hideaways offer short stays at Hoods, sleeping 4, from £503 or 7 nights from £914.
Loaf, sleeping 2, has short breaks from £248. Seven nights, begins from £811.