DORSET is renowned for being one of the most beautiful counties - but have you been to one of these picturesque villages? 

Winding roads lead to tucked away hamlets that back on to rolling hills and craggy coastline - the poetic beauty of our county is evident in every town and village. 

Everything about our villages is unique and individual to Dorset, from our quirky names to the deep history and rich folklore that enshrines many of our most popular places. 

Here are five of Dorset's prettiest villages: 

1. Ashmore

Bournemouth Echo:

Ashmore Dorset  - Google 

Sitting in north east Dorset, Ashmore is the county's highest village sitting 700 feet above sea level.

The village is iconic due to its large pond surrounded by chocolate box cottages. The Domesday Book mentions Ashmore as 'Aisemere' which translates to 'pool where the ash trees grow'.

Just five miles southeast of Shaftesbury, Ashmoore is famous with ramblers who stop through the village whilst completing one of the many walking tours of the AONB.

2. Abbotsbury

Bournemouth Echo:

Abbotsbury - Google

Packed full of quintessential English charm and character, Abbotsbury is one of the most popular villages in Dorset.  

The picture postcard village is home to the famous Swannery and St Catherine’s Chapel which boasts tremendous views along Chesil Beach and the Jurassic Coast.

This is true Thomas Hardy country with Abbotsbury the inspiration behind many of his books. It was also the filming location for a number of period productions including 'Far from the Madding Crowd' starring Carey Mulligan.

3. Corfe Castle

Bournemouth Echo:

Corfe Village - Google

This breath-takingly beautiful village nestled around the castle of the same name is one of the most iconic villages in the county. 

The castle itself was built by William the Conqueror and dates back to the 11th century commanding a significant spot on the Purbeck hills, it's an altogether unique and mesmerising backdrop for the village. 

Enid Blyton holidayed in the area and some of the local places feature in her books - Corfe Castle was the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in the Famous Five.

4. Cranborne Chase 

Bournemouth Echo:

The Fleur-de-lys at Cranborne. (Google)

At the heart of the Chase lies Cranborne, a pretty village of colourful cottages. 

As you explore this pretty, tranquil village it is hard to imagine it was once a thriving town on a scale to rival Durham or even London. 

The Manor dates back to the Middle Ages when King John was a regular visitor during hunting trips on the Cranborne Chase, during that time the village was a garrison for troops protecting the kings and had a population comparable with England’s major towns and cities.

Cranborne has inspired authors and poets alike - known as Chaseborough in the novels of Thomas Hardy the Inn at Cranborne (formerly the Fleur de Lys) featured as the Flower-de-Luce in Tess of the D’Urbervilles. 

Set in the heart of Cranborne Chase, are the intimate, rural villages of the Tarrants, Chrichels and the Gussages.

5. West Lulworth

Bournemouth Echo: Main Road, West Lulworth

West Lulworth main road (image - Echo)

The scenery around the Lulworth area is stunning, boasting some of the most dramatic geological features along the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, including Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.

West Lulworth is a traditional Dorset fishing village with thatched cottages dating back over 400 years and pretty, former coastguard houses - it is steeped in history and used to be a smugglers haunt. 

The Castle Inn is said to be one of the oldest pubs in Dorset, dating from the 16th century.