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Itinerary Planner

Plan your visit to Dorset using the '+ Itinerary Planner' button. Add to Excursion

Select items throughout the site to build an itinerary of your choice.

Gold Hill in the sunshine

Gold Hill in the sunshine

Shaftesbury

Rural Dorset

Rural Dorset offers traditional rural England at its finest; unspoilt countryside little changed since the times of author Thomas Hardy, picturesque villages with thatched cottages and quaint pubs.

The lively market towns of Wimborne Minster, Blandford Forum, Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton offer a wonderful blend of historic charm, unique attractions and great independent shops.

Explore miles of footpaths through varied scenery, colourful heathlands home to rare reptiles and birds, the sweeping downland of Cranborne Chase and the Dorset Downs and the pretty valley of the meandering River Stour.

Go Ape!Enjoy outdoor pursuits, walking, cycling, horse-riding and golf and a wealth of family attractions and events – the forest, lakes, cycle and play trails at Moors Valley Country Park; delightful Wimborne Model Town, the Great Dorset Steam Fair and Sting in the Tale storytelling festival.


Some Rural Dorset Highlights

Fly a kite or take in the stunning views from ancient Hill Forts; Hambledon & Hod Hills or Badbury Rings. Stand on the old cobbles of Gold Hill, with its picture postcard vistas and ‘Hovis’ memories.

Feel the power of water at a mill on the River Stour, explore the restored machinery at White Mill (NT) or see milling in action at Sturminster Newton Mill.

Explore the area’s rich heritage from mysterious pagan rings at Knowlton to the romantic ruins of Shaftesbury Abbey, from the splendour of gilded rooms and works of art at Kingston Lacy (NT) to the amazing Chained Library in Wimborne Minster.

Rural Dorset is home to some stunning gardens with award winning roses, camellias, fuchsias, blueberries, azaleas, acers and heathers. Download the Specialist Nurseries and Hidden Gardens of Dorset guide and explore these fascinating gardens for yourself. 

The adventurous can set up satellites and guide laser beams at the Royal Signals Museum, take to the trees with Go Ape High Wire Adventure at Moors Valley or explore the Stour on a boat trip.

Dorset Apple CakeGet a taste of Rural Dorset; spend an afternoon enjoying a tour of the Hall & Woodhouse Brewery or visit a local Farmers’ Market.

The Rural Dorset area offers a wide selection of welcoming accommodation, to find out more please use the relevant search menus.