New Barn Road, Abbotsbury, Near Weymouth DT3 4JG
In a pretty spot alongside the Fleet Lagoon, Abbotsbury Swannery was founded more than 600 years ago by Benedictine monks, who bred the swans for food. Today, of course, the swans are protected, but you can walk freely along the paths amongst their nests in the reed beds. Feeding time (twice daily, at noon & 4pm) is particularly spectacular, with up to 600 mute swans squabbling and flapping over their food. It’s a great place to take children, who will love running around amidst the birds and may well recognize the site from scenes in the film Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. They’ll also enjoy the rather bumpy tractor trip that runs from the entrance down to the nesting sites. If you can come in May or June, it’s even better, as the whole site is studded with neat nests, cracking eggs and hundreds of extremely fluffy cygnets wandering about, completely unfazed by visitors.