Story updated July 6
SHAFTESBURY is again ready to welcome visitors to our hilltop town and the breathtakingly beautiful and peaceful landscapes that surround us. After months of lockdown, the doors opened on July 4 to a huge range of fantastic glamping and camping sites close to Shaftesbury, together with a large number of cottages, hotels and pubs/restaurants with rooms.
Accommodation providers have been hard at work ensuring they meet all government requirements regarding distancing and cleanliness. In some cases, there will be gaps of 24 or even 72 hours between bookings to ensure deep cleaning. Many will offer visitors self check-in. The usual rules about deposits and balance payments have also been relaxed in places.
We know families want to be able to relax, to run around, to chill. We know that visitors want to enjoy a meal, to walk the hills and de-stress. As Ali Russell at Ash Farm says: “Like many of Dorset’s holiday providers, we can offer guests the chance to get away in seclusion and safety, watch wildlife, see open views of rolling countryside and escape from their city lives.”
After seeing their income evaporate since March, our hosts are ready to roll out the red carpet. “I would love to see my guests back again – I have missed them!,” says June Watkins at Lawn Cottage. It is already clear that there is pent-up demand for a staycation this summer. And a survey this week by Visit England says that top of the list is – a short break in the countryside in a holiday home. Some 38% of consumers surveyed cited they “want to get close to nature” as the main motivation for a holiday. Well, we can tick all the boxes there.
We’re just off the A303, halfway between London and Cornwall. We are an hour from the coast and on the doorstep of Stourhead and the Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which includes the Thomas Hardy landscapes of Fontmell and Melbury Downs, both maintained by The National Trust. Many of our cottages and glamping properties are buried deep in the countryside, many on working farms.
We are all very excited to begin the new normal phase. But while the rules mean marked differences in a pub or restaurant, our providers have done their utmost to make you feel safe and very, very welcome. If you need any help in town, visit our Tourist Information Centre on Bell Street – open 10am-2pm, Monday- Saturday. See you soon!
- We contacted 40 accommodation providers within 12 miles of Shaftesbury for information on their offering this summer: just over half responded, and their details are below. We will add more responses as and when we receive them