Over the years in Wessex Wheels
magazine we built up
a list of recommendations for hotels, restaurants, tea
rooms, inns, etc., that might be considered for anything
from a bar snack and a decent pint to a quality meal.
In the future we intend to include features on caravanning
and touring in general, starting with a report by
Stuart Bladon following a recent trip to Germany.
ABBOTSBURY Ilchester Arms, 9
01305 871243. Situated heart of the village in beautiful countryside.
Open non-residents. Conservatory restaurant. Two public bars,
cask beer, large selection wines. Open fire during the winter
months, patio, garden, parking.
ALMER The World's End. 01929
459671. Traditional thatched inn four miles north of Bere
Regis on the A31. Wide choice of home cooked meals. Good selection
of vegetarian and innumerable selection of puddings. Local
ales, fine wines. Open all year. Ample car parking.
BERE REGIS Royal Oak, West
Str. 01929 471203. Refurbished dining room (non smoke- ing).
Traditional home cooking, vegetar ian meals, real ales. Five
large en-suite rooms. Functions catered for. Skittle alley.
Regular live music. Open all day. Visit
The Black Dog. 01305 852360.
Three miles east of Dorchester on the A352 Wareham road. Award
winning family pub. Restaurant and bar meals. Extensive menu.
Real ales, fine wines. Open log fires in the winter months.
Attractive beer garden and children's play area. Open all
year. Ample parking.
Wareham) The Silent Woman.
01929 552909. One mile from Wareham on the forest road to
Bere Regis. Traditional family pub. Fish and game specialities,
veget-arian menu, real ales. Smoking or non-smoking restaurant.
Gardens. Ample parking.
(tramway) Tram Stop Restaurant. 01297
552717. Colyton terminus of the Seaton Tramway. Tea rooms
and gift shop. Cream teas, breakfasts or light lunches, 'meal
of the day' special. Evening dinner during August or other
times by arrangement. Unique building in beautiful countryside.
Open to non-users of the tramway. Car parking.
EAST BURTON(nr Wool) The Seven Stars.01929
462292. One mile west Wool on Moreton road. Extensive menu,
choice of 13 beers/ lagers (4 real ales). Open all week. Play
area & bouncy castle, animal farm yard. Close to Monkey World
and Tank Museum. Parking.
EAST KNIGHTON (nr Wool) Countryman
Inn. 01305 852666. Situated just off the A352 two miles
west of Wool. Family pub in heart of Hardy Country. Carvery,
home-cooked food, vegetarian. Range traditional beers and
lagers. Accommodation. Open fires in winter months, gardens,
large parking area.
on A352. 01929 462563. Views of the Purbeck Hills. Victorian
Rectory. A La Carte and Set Menu. Bar Meals. Daily Fresh Fish
Board. AA Rosette. Good Food and Good Hotel Guides. Conservatory.
Weddings and Functions. Honeymoon Suite Bargain Breaks. Visit
(nr Bridport) Eype's Mouth Country Hotel. 01308 423300. Just off A35 Bridport
by-pass. Unspoilt village magnificent views. Large restaurant
overlooking sea, interesting menu changed daily using fresh
local produce as available. 18 en-suite bedrooms. Two bars,
one with sunny patio. Snacks available in both bars. Ideal
weddings - ceremony and reception. Meetings, conferences,
etc. Large car park. Open all week.
(nr Dorchester) The Sun Inn.
01305 250445. Traditional 17th Century Coaching Inn just outside
Dorchester. Always a warm welcome. Extensive menu, daily specials,
carvery daily. Local ales. Wines. Families welcome. Garden
and child play area. Parking.
LULWORTH The Castle Inn,
Main Road. 01929 400311. Charming thatched inn dating back
to 1600's, near the Cove. Large selection of food. Various
beers and wines. Prize winning gardens. Accomodation. Barbecues
in the summer months. Ample car parking.
(nr Bere Regis) The Cock & Bottle, on B3075
between A35 and A31. 01929 459238. Traditional rural inn with
log fires in winter. Good Food Guide 1999. Interesting á la
carte menu. Dorset Dining Pub of the Year. Weekend bookings
advised. Gardens. Ample car parking.
MORETON (nr Dorchester)
The Frampton Arms, on B3390
between Bere Regis & Warmwell. Tel: 01305 852253. Fax:
01305 854586. Opposite Moreton railway station. Traditional
village inn. Two restaurants (non smoking) renown for good
food. Sunday roast. Function room. Skittles. Accommodation.
Ample car parking.
MOTCOMBE (nr Shaftesbury) The Coppleridge Inn, 01747 851980.
Two miles Shaftsbury. Converted 18th C farmhouse set in 15
acres. Candle lit á la carte restaurant, traditional beers,
fine wines. Vegetarian and ethnic dishes catered for. Accommodation.
Garden, play area and nature trail.
NORDEN HEATH (Corfe
Castle) Half Way Inn, on A351. 01929
480402. Traditional thatched country inn. Always a warm and
friendly welcome. Real ales, fine wines. Extensive menu, daily
'special' board, vegetarian. Good pub guide. Child area and
SANDFORD (nr Wareham) The Sandford on A351 Poole road.
01929 552026. A friendly family pub. Home made food served
lunchtime and evenings. Sunday roasts. Cask ales. Beer garden
with children's play area. Open all year. Close to Purbeck
Hills, Wareham Forest, Monkey World, etc. Large car park.
(tramway) Tram Stop Restaurant. 01297
552717. Colyton terminus of the Seaton Tramway. Tea rooms
and gift shop. Cream teas, breakfasts or lunches, 'meal of
the day' special. Evening dinner during August or by arrangement.
Unique building in beautiful countryside. Open to non-users
tramway. Car parking.
STUDLAND BAY (nr Swanage)
Manor House Hotel. 01929 450288.
18th C Manor House in 20 acres overlooking sea. Bar meals
served am & pm. Table d' Hote Dinners daily. Sunday Lunches,
Functions and Weddings. Open to non-residents. Large parking
area. Visit Website
STURMINSTER NEWTON The Bull Tavern, Bridge Street.
01258 472435. 16th Century traditional thatched award winning
inn in the heart of the Blackmore Vale. Lrg selection of home-cooked
meals from international menu. Choice three cask ales, 'Casque
Mark' award for pubs that serve the perfect pint. Wine list,
etc. Bookings advised. Relax and enjoy a drink to the soothing
sounds ofClassic FM.
SWANAGE The Village Inn, Studland Rd,
Ulwell. 01929 427644/424931. 11/2 miles
Swanage seafront. Heated indoor pool. Bar food, traditional
local ales. Wine list. Ideal for Purbeck walkers. Sunday lunch
carvery. Relaxed atmosphere. Ample car parking. Visit
WEST BEXINGTON (nr Dorchester)
The Manor Hotel. 01308 897616.
Dating back to the 11th century, the hotel is situated just
off the Weymouth to Bridport coast road. Award winning restaurant,
cellar bar, conservatory. Tue/Web evenings: 2 sirloin steaks,
plus bottle of house wine, £19.95. Gardens. Magnificent
coastal views. Ample car parking. Visit
WEST KNIGHTON (nr Dorchester)
The New Inn. 01305 852349. Traditional
Country pub situated in heart Hardy Country serving lunches,
dinners and bar snacks. All food cooked to order. Ideal base
for walking. Large car park, garden and childrens play area.
WINTERBORNE WHITECHURCH Milton Arms, Dorchester Hill.
01258 880306. Pauline and Mike Jenkins are making this the
pub to drive or walk to with homemade meals, a warm friendly
welcome and extensive menu including Sunday roast lunch.
So much to see and do in Germany, says Stuart Bladon Where should we go and what should we do on our late summer holiday in Germany? asks a friend. Well, I am able to advise, having just spent three weeks of conducted exploration in the hands of the German National Tourist office on a magnficent tour arranged for the Caravan Writers’ Guild.
Although this was not included in our tour I would strongly advise a visit to the charming little village of Monschau, close to the border and just south of Aachen. You can park outside the village and take a short walk to the centre enjoying its charming little shops, restaurants and the superb vista over the river.
From here it’s a pleasant cross-country drive of about 100 miles to the oldest town in Germany, if not in Europe, the ancient city of Trier. Founded over 100 years BC, Trier has a variety of ancient Roman ruins in various states of preservation, including eight UNESCO world heritage sites and there are numerous museums and historic buildings.
It is well supplied with parking places or you can take one of the many conducted tours with an English-speaking guide. Not to be missed are the Cathedral - the oldest in Germany, built 1,700 years ago, and the fabulous Roman baths with underground walkways often as much as half a kilometre long. The baths, we were told, were never used! Perhaps even in those days Governments were prone to change their minds and waste money on unfinished projects, all too familiar in modern times. Here, too, you may wish to visit the birthplace of Karl-Marx, now a museum.
As caravan writers, we were all in our caravans and motor caravans which for this centre were located at the very attractive Campingplatz at Echternacherbrück, and the busy schedule included time for a two-hour cruise on the Moselle, as well as numerous wine-tasting visits.
There was much more to see in the Trier area, enough to justify another visit later, but our schedule called for hitching up and moving south-east some 300 miles to sample the highlights of Bavaria; and here a word of warning. Major roadworks are in hand to widen the two-lane carriageways of the Autobahn between Stuttgart and Munich, and German drivers seem to be as bad as the English at failing to cope with roadworks and lane-switching, so we were delayed by several accidents.
Our site was at camping Lech in Affing near Augsburg, and from here we began the industry side of our tour with visits to AL-KO, the leading manufacturer of chassis for both caravans and motorhome. Nearby is the historic town of Nördlingen where you can walk round Germany’s only preserved city wall (but be warned, it’s 2.6 km along the parapet), and visit the Ries crater museum to learn about the impact of a huge meteorite. The event was explained by archeologists only as recently as 1961, although the crash actually occurred some 15 million years ago.
It has been calculated that the meteor hit the earth at 45,000 mph, and penetrated the earth’s crust to a depth of about two miles, discharging energy equivalent to 250,000 atomic bombs. We must hope it doesn’t happen again!
Essential viewing in Bavaria are the famous castles of King Ludwig II, the enormous costs of which led to his downfall and ultimate death in a lake with his hated doctor-minder; no one knows if it was suicide or murder. Our tour took us to the magnificent Neuschwanstein castle, which is best seen from a little bridge over the river halfway up the walk to the top. The interior I find a little disappointing, and not as magnificent as the superb Linderhof with its dazzling gold decor, array of mirrors, and gravity-powered fountain leaping up into the air about every half hour.
While at Neuschwanstein a call at Füssen is rewarding for a walk round the historic town, and then we went to Uffing, where a boat took us to Murnau which is famous for its artists and authors who lived and worked here, but what really enthralled me was the pedestrianised centre street with restaurants, wine and beer tables while in the background soaring into the sky are the mountains of the Bavarian Alps. The boat excursion on the Stafelsee is well worthwhile. This area, in the foothills of the Alps is called the Blue Land. We had a very informative talk here by the mayor in perfect English, who then departed on his bicycle. “What, no mayoral limo?” I asked, and he replied that he always used his bike in Murnau.
Into the mountains next and we went to Brannenburg for the rack railway up to Wendelstein at 1,838m. Unfortunately, after brilliant sunshine the previous day, the mountains were largely ‘bottled’ by cloud, but a very good lunch was enjoyed in the Wendelstein House just below the summit.
Gradually, the clouds lifted, revealing some of the spectacular mountain views, before we descended by the alternative transport system, an enclosed cable car. Did they know how many people could be crowded into the cabin, we wondered, but the cables took it alright.
After our fairly leisurely sight-seeing days it was time to carry on with the industry research part of the tour, starting with a visit to Truma, which supplies hot water and interior heating for most caravans and motorhomes, and we were shown the elaborate test procedure undergone by every gas combustion unit. “How often do you get a failure?” I asked. “Failure,” came the reply; “what is that?” But they still test every unit just in case, because a carbon monoxide leak could be fatal.
Next came Hymer, which was something of a revelation. This manufacturer of caravans and motorhomes has a vast factory, and we saw chassis coming in at one end, furniture and fittings being installed, and finally the body sides and roof going on for the finished product to emerge at the other end, about 1 km away. A lot of manual labour is involved. Almost unlimited land space in Germany makes it possible for them to have such a huge factory for caravan and motorhome production. An important part in caravan production is played by Whale which supplies pumps for water circulation in the caravan.
Another very pretty and historic town awaited us at Memmingen, and then just a short distance away is Ottobeuren. We had visited a number of churches and cathedrals, but the amazing Basilica at Ottobeuren is well worth the diversion. It has been repaired now at cost of a million euros following damage caused by a severe hailstorm a few years ago.
One cannot leave Bavaria without exploring Munich, which is perhaps best done on one of the many city sightseeing tours. It is a magnificent city; and after we had enjoyed our fill of nostalgia and historic buildings it was time to hitch up our BMW 520d Touring to the caravan and set off back north. We avoided the congested Stuttgart motorway, picking up the A6 near Heilbronn and on to the A61 west of Rhine Autobahn which is less congested than the Frankfurt-Cologne routes on the other side. Our destination, the large but very attractive site at Rüdesheim was on the east side of the Rhine, so we took the short cut across using the ferry which takes only about ten minutes and costs 10 euro for the car and caravan. The site, Campingplatz am Rhein, is one really to be recommended and we had a fine pitch with a view across the Rhine.
A short walk into Rüdesheim takes you to the intriguing Sigfried mechanical music museum, where a fabulous collection of self-playing musical machines can be seen, many of them still in working order. From here it’s just a short walk to take the cable car ride to the Niederwald monument which was erected after the Franco-German war of 1870-71. You can return the same way, or walk the hill crest for about two miles to descend by another cable car to Assmanshausen for a meal and then return to Rüdesheim by bus or boat.
Next day a three-hour cruise on the river heading north was a relaxing finish to our busy three-week tour and took us to the historic little town of Braubach followed by a road train up the hill to Marksburg castle, the only one of the many on the Rhine which has never been destroyed. But a lot of steep climbing is involved to explore the interior. Finally a one-hour train ride took us back to Rüdesheim.
It had been a busy and thoroughly entertaining tour in which we had explored a lot of Germany, though some would probably say we had barely scratched the surface of a country so full of variety and history. If you go touring in Germany I can guarantee that you will be delighted - and you don’t need to take your German phrase book; almost everyone speaks perfect English.
Caravanning in Germany Included in our tour were inspections of a large number of caravan sites in addition to the three at which we stayed, and without exception they were all impeccably clean, tidy and well-maintained. The roads are also in far better state of repair than our neglected ones, and although traffic volumes are invariably high, progress is steady and reasonably rapid.
Motorhomes have a big advantage over trailer caravans, which are beset by an unrealistic speed limit approximately 50 mph or 80 km/h. To qualify for an extension to 100 km/h (62 mph) you have to call at Aachen, and arrange to have your trailer inspected by an engineer to obtain authorisation for a ‘100' sticker to go on the back, allowing the upper speed limit.
Finding somewhere to park the outfit in Aachen and arrange all this is quite impractical, so for a while we tried sticking to 50, only to realise that this is potentially dangerous. All the time, lorries are being forced out to overtake the caravan. The alternative is to take to the minor roads, but with big mileages to be covered, this is also very frustrating.
I am trying to bring what pressure is possible to try to get the German authorities to accept an engineer’s report in the home country for the 100 km/h limit to be applied. The other drawback is that long sections of Autobahn especially where there are roadworks have a sign forbidding cars towing trailers from overtaking. The result is that you are trapped in while cars and motor caravans go flooding past and cutting in at the front of the queue. One can only put up with this or ignore it and risk a heavy fine.
Patience is necessary, and then when you arrive at the site you will find a warm welcome, delightfully clean facilities, and the caravan can be unhitched leaving the car free for touring. On both the outward and homeward journeys it’s a good idea to visit Luxembourg to fill up, where fuel is much cheaper than in Belgium or Germany.
Somerset BA21 4EH
Tel: 01935 472381
Fax: 01935 431547 Visit website
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