It’s hard with walks, if you try it and you don’t find it, it’s a little late to turn back. So, I thought I’d share 5 of my top walks in Dorset to help you on your way. You’re welcome!
Distance – 4 miles
Landscape – Fields, tracks, country lanes, steep zig, zag gravel path.
Dog Friendly – some road walking but all the stiles have dog gates.
Car Parking – Above the Gravel beach in Seatown. there is a charge.
Golden Cap is the obvious name for a high, flat topped hill of deep orange sandstone on the cliffs between Charmouth and Bridport. Golden Cap is the highest point on the South Coast at 627ft with views along the shore to the tip of Portland Bill in one direction and to Start Point in the other.
Eat & Drink – The Anchor Inn is on the beach at Seatown and has wonderful food and an interesting selection of wine and ales.
Worth Matravers to Corfe Castle
Distance – 9 miles.
Landscape – Fields, tracks and coastal paths
Dog friendly – but some stiles which can be challenging
Car Park – The car park is just North of Worth Matravers and has an honesty box.
Worth Matravers is a picturesque village of lichen-encrusted grey cottages, complete with Duck Pond. The nearby quarries have been worked for centuries and the local stone was used to build Salisbury Cathedral. Corfe Castle stands on a high mound and is the site of a ruined castle. Burial mounds around the common of Corfe Castle suggest that the area was occupied from 6000BC. The common also points to a later Celtic field system worked by the Durotriges tribe. Evidence suggests that the tribe co-existed with the Romans in a trading relationship following the Roman invasion c. 50AD.
The name “Corfe” is derived from the Saxon word, ceorfan, meaning to cut or carve, referring to the gap in the Purbeck hills where Corfe Castle is situated.
Eat & Drink: The Dog Friendly Square & Compass in Worth Matravers serves pasties with a range of real ale and home pressed ciders. There is also a small fossil museum in the pub.
Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door
Distance – 2.5 miles
Landscape – Steeply rolling cliffs beside the sea, and green inland.
Dog friendly – Excitable dogs need to be under strict control near cliff edges.
Parking – Pay & Display Car Park, which is signposted at Lulworth Cove.
Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are two of the best known features of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. Lulworth bay is an almost circular bay in the rolling line of cliffs that form Dorset’s Southern coast, which provides a secure anchorage for fishing boats, and a suntrap of safe water for bathers. Due to the Geology, Lulworth Cove earned World Heritage status in 2002.
Eroded by time and nature, Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most photographed and iconic landmarks and is part of the Jurassic Coast. The coastline is of such international geological importance that it was designated England’s first natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001 and is now part of a family of natural wonders including America’s Grand Canyon and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The name Durdle is derived from an old English word ‘thirl’, which means to pierce, bore or drill.
As you look towards the sea, you will see Durdle Door beach on your right.
This short walk includes some uphill walking but the path is good and well graded.
Eat & Drink: Lulworth has tea rooms and hotels, but the Secret Garden welcomes dogs.
Cerne Abbas Giant
Distance – 2.2 miles
Landscape – Country paths and tracks, minor road (if heading to village)
Dog Friendly – A lovely walk to take dogs.
Parking – Cerne Abbas Picnic area.
Starting at the Cerne Abbas picnic area car park this circular walk follows a footpath to the Benedictine Cerne Abbey, then through the Cemetery and up the south east side of the Cerne Abbas Giant Hill. It returns down the north west side of the hill and passes the Giant before returning to the car park. There are excellent views of the Dorset downlands and the Cerne Valley from both sides of the hill. The Cerne Abbas Giant is world famous and it’s origin is the subject of much speculation.
Eat & Drink: Combine your walk with the lovely Cerne Abbas village and treat yourself to a refreshment in one of the four welcoming dog friendly pubs.
Distance – 3.5 miles
Landscape – Grassy paths and tracks, level cliff tops and abandoned quarries.
Dog Friendly – beware of unfenced cliffs
Landscape – Grassy paths and tracks, level cliff tops and abandoned quarries.
Parking – By roadside in the centre of Southwell village, at road junction by Eight Kings Pub.
Starting from the car park near the Portland Bill lighthouse, this 3.5 mile walk is easy with few stretches of ascent and descent. It is a great way to see the fascinating landscape of Portland Bill associated with quarrying.
The Portland Race led to many ships being wrecked over the centuries, and the towers of three lighthouses can still be seen here.
This is a birdwatcher’s paradise, particularly during spring and autumn migration.
Eat & Drink – The Lobster Pot Café & Restaurant at Portland Bill, does an amazing Crab sandwich and is perfectly situated for taking in the wonderful view.
Kingcombe Nature Reserve
Step back in time walking around this traditional working farm just a few minutes drive from Lancombe. Two circular marked trails. Otherwise permissive Open Access. Two long distance trails cross the site – Jubilee Trail (Footpath) & Wessex Ridgeway (Bridleway). Access to the meadows is via field, bridle or kissing gates. There are some regularly walked but unsurfaced tracks through the meadows, with visitors also free to make their own way between the fields, however the ground may be rough and even in places and can be very wet in parts. There are several marked trails for which leaflets are available at the Kingcombe Centre Information Point, or the centre itself when this is open. An overview map and leaflet is also available by visiting here: https://www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/nature-reserves/kingcombe-meadows.
Permissive Open Access over much of the farm but please observe no entry signs around the farm itself, and be aware that leaving the main waymarked paths may involve crossing stiles or ditches. There are several small ponds scattered across the site and a larger pond by the visitor centre, with a small river running through the central part of the site and alongside the Kingcombe Centre. There may be cows with calves and bulls on site from spring through to autumn – keep your distance and observe any signs. Please take precautions against ticks. There are Cattle with calves and bulls on site March to December. Sheep all year round. So please keep dogs on a lead. There is car parking at the main centre and the following facilities are available:
Baby changing facilities
Finally and last but not least, we are very fortunate at Lancombe to be situated on the Wessex Way, so you don’t even need to get in the car to enjoy a wonderful and peaceful countryside walk. This walk is an exploration of the unspoilt and spectacular Wessex countryside that passes through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Cranborne Chase and Dorset. Between them they cover almost all of this linear walk. Highlights include the starting point of the cathedral city of Salisbury, the rolling chalk downlands of north Dorset, Shaftesbury’s Gold Hill, the iron age Hambledon Hill fort, Corfe Castle, part of Dorset’s famous World Heritage Jurassic Coast, the lost village of Tyneham, Portland with its history of quarrying, a climb of Golden Cap, the South Coast’s tallest cliff, and then finishing on Lyme Regis’s iconic cobb harbour wall. An alternative finish route to Sherborne is described, provided by turning north at Bridport in West Dorset to pass over Dorset’s highest point and see Thomas Hardy’s rural heartland before ending the walk at Sherborne’s Abbey. There is in addition a described 9-mile circular walk around Portland Bill.
The route touches on The Hardy Way, The Wessex Heights Walk, The Wessex Ridgeway, The Jubilee Trail, The Stour Valley Way, The Wareham Forest Way, The Purbeck Way, The South West Coast Path, The South Dorset Ridgeway, The Monarch’s Way and The Macmillan Way but there are many significant sections that are off such trails. Inevitably with a route of this length there is going to be some overlapping but the route as a whole stands as a distinctive new path.
See you soon!