If you are in Dorchster and want to explore north of Dorchester there is rover ticket called a Heart of Wessex Day Ranger. Available after 08.30 this ticket allows unlimited travel between Weymouth - Dorchester - Castle Cary - Bristol TM plus Swindon - Bath Spa/Trowbridge/Swindon/Westbury. Cost is £19.00 or child £12.55. If you hold a railcard the price is £9.50. (2015 prices).
- Budget Travel
While exploring the south of England for ten days, I stayed in Bournemouth and from there did day trips by train. My first one was the one to Dorchester. It was a very convenient trip because the journey only takes about 45 minutes. I booked a return ticket online in advance which was £11. This is an off peak ticket which means that you can only use it after 09.00am. The time is not set, so you can go to Dorchester (after 09.00am of course) when you like, and return the same day at which hour you like.
Trains from Bournemouth to Dorchester and back run about every thirty minutes, sometimes more often.
Dorchester has train connections to many other places, for example Southampton, Bristol and London. You need to watch out, though: The town has two train stations, Dorchester West and Dorchester South! So make sure you walk to the right station when you want to catch your train to go somewhere else.
My picture shows a mural at Dorchester South. I did not like that train station very much because there was simply nothing - only a very small waiting room with stale air, where all seats were occupied. After all my walking I felt thirsty, but there were no shops at all, not even a self-serving machine selling snacks, so there was no chance to buy a drink. The closest shops were a five minute walk away, so I took my chances and ran, and just made it back in time to catch my train.
However, a big development is going on and a huge shopping centre is built next to the station, where many shops, cafés and restaurants will be. When I was there, it was just a big construction site with big posters showcasing how it all is supposed to look like.
I really wanted to visit Maiden Castle, but I knew that it was a few kilometres out of town, so I went to the tourist information and asked about public transportation.
To get to Maiden Castle, you need to take bus No 2 at Trinity Street (bus stand C2), very close to the tourist information. It leaves at eleven minutes past the hour from 09.11am to 01.11pm, and then at 02.38pm and 05.38pm. You need to get off at Maiden Castle Road/Celtic Crescent, the journey takes fifteen minutes. From there it is still a walk of about a mile to the castle.
The bus does not run on sundays, and on saturdays it only runs until 01.11pm!
Unfortunately I just missed bus No 2 and did not feel like waiting so long, so I just took another one which went south to the cemetery, and from there I walked all the way... It did not look as far on the map as it was in reality :-( I explored Maiden Castle for two hours (walking all the time), and then walked all the way back to the train station, adding another two miles to my quota...
Hey, at least my UK trip was the first trip of my life where I lost weight instead of gaining it, because of all this walking, missing busses and being lost LOL :-)
So of course, I rather recommend taking the right bus - no 2 - and not walking, as it really is rather a dull walk and it takes so long to walk there, I could have used that time much better.
I cannot remember how much the bus to the cemetery was, but I think it was about £2.
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There are two railway stations in Dorchester - you need to know which one to use depending where you are going.
Dorchester South is served by South West Trains and is on the London - Southampton - Bournemouth - Weymouth line. Fast new electric trains provide a frequent service and there is plenty of car parking. See www.southwesttrains.co.uk
Dorchester West is on the Weymouth to Yeovil to Bristol line. Trains are not as frequent as at South station but this line provides a good cross country service. see www.firstgreatwestern.co.uk