Littlebredy Grounds & Waterfall - the perfect picnic spot in West Dorset (nr Bridport & Dorchester)
Picnic spot in Littlebredy, West Dorset (open all year round - as far as I know!)
Lake and river
Free entry (donations encouraged)
No toilets in grounds or village!
Littlebredy Walled Gardens with tea, cake & cream teas open Weds & Sundays 2-5pm in high season (small entry fee applies)
I’ve a feeling that the people in the know about this place may not want me to shout about this place too loudly – so, don’t tell!
During the 2020 pandemic period I’ve made more picnics than I care to count (sooo many ham pitta breads…), and I’ve been on the hunt for fresh places to explore with the kids. On my list was the picturesque village of Littlebredy – which, Google told me, had a beautiful lake, restored Victorian walled gardens, and green spaces tucked away in the West Dorset countryside.
What I missed is that the beautifully-kept Littlebredy Walled Gardens are only open from 2-5pm on Wednesdays and Sundays in high season, so that was off the menu (as we visited on a Monday) – but not a problem, the grounds of the Bridehead mansion were still a lovely place to discover.
Getting there was easy after the usual battle with the traffic at Chideock – there’s a small signposted turning off the A35 just before Winterbourne Abbas (from the Bridport direction) which takes you up a minor road and into the village of Littlebredy. There, I got lost (it’s not immediately obvious) – so, park on the field next to the hexagonal bus shelter (free) and then go on foot on the road down the hill.
If you are visiting the Walled Gardens (see the opening times above), you can ignore the ‘private road’ signs and drive down until you pick up signage for the Walled Garden parking at the bottom of the hill.
A short walk down the hill from the parking green, you’ll see a gate next to the Village Hall on the left– go through the gate and wander towards the church with its sharp spire, passing some pretty cottages en-route. At the church, the path branches – take the right-hand branch and you’ll suddenly find yourself in the beautiful mansion grounds with rolling greenery, sparkling lake, and picturesque little waterfall!
The lake is deep in places and not for swimming, boating, or anything (this is clearly signed – though you can watch the fish) but the other side of the bridge is a lovely shallow stream, perfect for a paddle.
Take along a picnic blanket and let the kids run off some steam – there’s also a great little cluster of trees with low lying branches for a bit of tree climbing.
There is no charge to enter the grounds but signage encourages you to consider donating towards the upkeep of the church in return for access – there’s a collection box in the church porch.
On our visit we could not locate any toilets – something to be aware of! That also meant nowhere to wash hands after a river splash so taking hand sanitiser might be a good idea, the water smelled a bit pond weedy.
Before we left, we wandered down to the Walled Gardens to see if we could peek through the gates, passing a little fairy garden created by a local resident on the way.
During the Walled Garden opening times, cream teas and cakes can be purchased (there’s seating outside the barn, according to the website) and it looked like a nice place for a wander with a riverside lawn and restored flower gardens. I believe a small entry fee applies. Check the website for seasonal opening information.
If you’re looking to extend your day, you could venture to nearby Abbotsbury where you’ll find three fantastic attractions (Abbotsbury Children’s Farm, Abbotsbury Swannery, and Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens – check websites for opening times during the COVID-19 period) – or you could hit the beach at Burton Bradstock or West Bay.