2 Best Sights in Abbotsbury, The South

Abbotsbury Swannery

Just outside Abbotsbury is one of the world's few remaining undisturbed brackish lagoons, a wildlife haven and the only place in the world where you can walk through a colony of nesting mute swans. Originally tended by Benedictine monks as a source of meat in winter, the swans have remained for centuries, drawn by the lagoon's soft, moist eelgrass—a favorite food—and fresh water. Now some 600 swans build nests yearly in reeds provided by the swannery. Cygnets hatch between mid-May and late June. You can try hand-feeding the birds at noon and 4 pm daily. You can also try finding your way out of the county's largest willow maze (swan-shaped, naturally).

Hardy Monument

On the hills above Abbotsbury stands this 72-foot tall stone monument dedicated to Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Hardy (not the famous writer), Nelson's right-hand man at the battle of Trafalgar to whom his dying words "Kiss me, Hardy" were addressed. The monument, designed to look like a spyglass, lacks charm, but in clear weather, you can scan the whole coastline between the Isle of Wight and Start Point in Devon, 56 miles away (the Hardy family wanted a monument that could be used as a landmark for shipping.) On open days in May and October, you can climb the 120 steps inside to a viewing platform.