Taking a holiday in Dorset is one of the best decisions you can make in life. From the rich natural geology to stunning restaurants and outdoor experiences, Dorset remains a hidden gem on the holiday scene.
Over the years, we’ve seen countless holidaymakers create incredible memories along Dorset’s rugged landscape, but one question we’re always asked is what the best walking routes are around Dorset.
The answer, of course, is that there are no wrong answers, with over 4,700 signposted and marked footpaths, bridleways and byways to explore. But if you’re in the mood for something a little more structured, we’ve got just the walks for you. Join us as we share some of our favourite Dorset walks.
Short distance – Perfect for young families
Big walks aren’t ideal for everyone, so why not take the family out for a short but spectacular stroll? There’s no shortage of options available, but we might recommend starting with Burton Bradstock, a one mile circular walk along the beautiful Burton Cliff, taking in some spectacular views of the pre-historic coastline, which was a former landing location for smugglers, and today features exposed fossils, making it something of a wonderland for the kids.
Another coastal wonder is the 1 mile Langdon Hill walk, which begins at Langdon Hill car park, for easy access. This pleasant walk takes you to the highest point on the south coast, Golden Cap. Taking its name from the minerals in the rock, which glow a burnt gold when exposed to the beautiful Dorset sunshine.
The National Trust play host to the wonderful Lambert’s and Coney’s Castle walks, which take in ancient hill forts that are just fifteen minutes outside of Lyme Regis. It’s a beautiful way to spend an afternoon!
For a slightly longer stroll, Corfe Castle is a wonderful day out. Situated high stop a hill, this spectacular ruin was a formidable defence back in its day but today is a wonderful place for a walk. Tickets can be attained from the office on site, and the route takes roughly a mile and a half to complete.
Medium distance – Ideal for a day out
If you’re up for something with a little bit more of a challenge involved, why not stretch your legs along a longer walk? Dorset plays host to countless fantastic medium length walks, but we’ve got a soft spot for Old Harry Rocks. These iconic chalk sea walls were formed by sea erosion, which now threaten the formation itself. The walk comes in at around 3 miles, and is absolutely recommended for anyone visiting Dorset.
Another wonderful walk is around England’s only natural World Heritage Site – Golden Cap. Managed by the National Trust, this coastal area offers magnificent views and acts as a starting point for 25 miles of footpaths of varying intensity, so you can be certain to find a path that’s right for you.
Alternatively, why not get away from the coast with a walk through the Melbury Downs. It’s Thomas Hardy country and you can enjoy the countryside which inspired those famous novels. Taking in three miles and with plenty of places to stop off and enjoy a picnic, inland Dorset can be a wonderful place to explore.
Long distance – For challenge seekers
Walking is more than a way to get around for many of us, it’s a passion. If that sounds like you, then Dorset has a few exciting challenges in hand.
One of our favourite local toughies is the walk from Seaton to Lyme Regis through the Undercliffs. A particularly challenging walk over uneven terrain and clay soils, it’s not recommended you take this walk after wet weather. The rewards, however, are superb, and aren’t to be missed
Stretching over 6 miles and taking in moderate terrain, the walk through Shapwick, Beech Avenue and the Droves takes in some of the wonderful highlights of the iconic Kingston Lacy estate, including the famed Beech Avenue, the Badbury Rings hill fort and much more. You’ll even find a terrific pub in Shapwick where you can rest, whet your whistle and recuperate before hitting the trail again.
The wonderfully named Lawrence of Arabia trail, run by the National Trust, is a 6.75 mile circular trail which follows a route near Bovington, travelling along country lanes and through woodlands, taking in Lawrence of Arabia’s home in Clouds Hill and his final resting place, the cemetery at Moreton.