Dig out your walking boots and head down to Dorset this summer!

The Dorchester Walking Festival is a 9-day event taking place from Saturday, 13th May to Sunday, 21st May 2023, during National Walking Month.

Walkers cross a little bridge in Dorchester

There are over 40 guided walks to choose from – a great mix of long and short walks and activities for all abilities and interests. Whether you are a keen hiker or prefer a gentle stroll, the schedule caters for everyone and with around half of the walks free, no added pressure on stretched budgets.

The festival starts with a family-friendly Dawn Chorus to listen to bird song and identify local birds and will finish with a rousing grand finale, the Beat the Bounds around the old town walks with the town crier, making some noise, and enjoying pop-up surprises along the way.

Borough Gardens in the summer

The county town of Dorset, Dorchester is ‘the heart of Dorset”.  Surrounded by rolling hills and amazing views, it’s the perfect base for walkers. It affords easy access to the Southwest Coast Path along the South Dorset Ridgeway and the Jurassic coast is only a few miles away.

Dorchester is one of the most interesting towns in England. The town has a neolithic henge, the largest iron age fort in Europe and the best example of a free-standing Roman town house in the UK.  The original mosaics are still in situ and many others are on display in the town’s award-winning museum. The old Roman town walls were transformed into beautiful tree-lined walks in the 18th century and can still be enjoyed today. With the most listed buildings on any British High Street, full of Georgian façades and neo-Gothic architecture, Dorchester is cat nip for lovers of history.

The Walks, Dorchester

It is also the birthplace of literary giant, Thomas Hardy, the area inspiring much of his writing and many places have barely changed since he wrote about them.

Brewery Square has transformed the site of the 19th century brewery into a vibrant shopping and eating complex, which has retained many of the original features. At the other end of town, and well worth a visit, lies the new Poundbury development, designed in accordance with the sustainable principles of King Charles III.

Aerial view of Poundbury

Boasting two railway stations and being on the national cycle path, getting around is stress-free for those that choose to leave the car behind.  Some of the town’s accommodation providers are offering special deals for the walking festival. The King’s Arms is a beautifully renovated boutique hotel in the centre of Dorchester offering a Walk & Stay package. Walkers can spend the evenings relaxing in sumptuous comfort and dine in their award-winning restaurant.  

For those that prefer something more rustic, Greenwood Grange are offering 3 nights for the price of 2 in their stunning stone-built countryside cottages, just a stone’s throw from Thomas Hardy’s birthplace in Thorncombe Wood, with beautiful gardens, indoor swimming pool, tennis courts and outdoor play area.

Walkers crossing Moreton Ford

The walking festival provides a great opportunity to explore the area’s rich landscape and heritage.

However long you decide to stay in Dorchester – You will find a warm welcome and a whole feast of things to do!

The whole walking itinerary can be viewed at discoverdorchester.co.uk/dorchester-walking-festival.