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Around half of Dorset's population lives in the South East Dorset Conurbation otherwise known as the Poole-Bournemouth urban area. Lying to the east of Portland, the area includes the isle of Purbeck and such places of interest as Lulworth Cove, Corfe Castle, Durdle Door, the garden at Compton Acres and the cliffs around Kimmeridge. The area offers a number of fine beaches each with their own distinct character and underlying geology. If you want to get back to nature a visit to this part of Dorset is a must. The main towns of the area include: Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch, Gillingham, Swanage, Wareham and Wimborne.
West Dorset is probably most famous for its coastline. The stunning and varied Jurassic Coast was granted World Heritage status in 1991. Geologists and fossil hunters will find much to explore and learn about whilst familes and children will enjoy the spectacular views and wide choice of beaches. Inland there's much to see from Iron Age Hill forts and Roman remains to the unique Cerne Abbas Giant. Those with green fingers will find lots to see at Minterne Gardens and Athelhampton House. Bookworms may wish to visit locations thinly disguised in the books of Thomas Hardy. Less populated than its neighbour to the east, West Dorset offers something for everyone. Chief towns include Bridport, Dorchester, Sherborne, Lyme Regis and Beaminster.
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