It can be tempting to stay snuggled up indoors in the cold weather but winter is in fact one of the most beautiful times to explore the Dorset countryside.
The dustings of frost over the hills, magical misty valleys, crisp blue skies and rugged, natural beauty transform the landscape into a Narnia-esque wonderland.
There’s nothing quite like a winter walk in Dorset, and when you return from your adventure with rosy cheeks and tired feet, what could be better than a cosy pub with a fireside armchair to sink into and warm up in?
Here, we’ve selected some of our favourites…
This is a nice gentle walk of about 1.5 miles over Corfe Common with remarkable views of Corfe Castle. Corfe Common has remained unchanged for over 1,000 years and is particularly picturesque in the winter months with the low winter sunshine dappling through the ruins of the castle.
The Greyhound Inn is the picture perfect pub in which to finish your walk. Arguably the most photographed pub in Britain, on cold winter days you’ll always find a goblet of steaming mulled wine, a huge roaring fire and hearty fare waiting for you under their characterful low ceilings.
The beautiful Piddle Valley is renowned for its rambling routes with plenty of paths and bridleways to explore and far reaching views from its high chalky downs.
This 5.5 mile loop takes you along peaceful tracks and up over rolling hills with sweeping views and open skies. It’s strikingly beautiful in the winter and you’ll quite likely see buzzards soaring overhead and encounter a deer or two along the way.
If you don’t fancy a long walk, Piddlehinton’s pretty thatched cottages, quaint church and trickling brooks are ideal for a short wander round the village.
Warm up at The Thimble Inn, an 18th century, chocolate box pub with open fires, antique furniture and excellent seasonal food.
Voted by Guardian readers as one of the top ten places to go on a winter break, Wareham is a delightful place to enjoy a frosty stroll.
The Two Rivers Walks are, like their name suggests, two circular walks that start at Wareham Quay and follow the banks of the River Piddle and Frome through Wareham Common and the saltmarshes, reedbeds and mudflats of Poole Harbour. You can choose to do one or the other, or join the two together to make a longer figure of 8.
In winter, you’ll see flocks of migrant wetland birds visiting the reserve and meadows such as the black-tailed godwit, curlew and lapwing and in late afternoon, the early winter sunsets create blazing hues of pink and gold that enchant the watery landscape.
As you may have guessed, wellie boots are essential!
Back at the Quay, you have a variety of places to refuel but we like The Bear for its mix of historic, homely charm and modern luxury.
This linear coastal walk along one of the most iconic spots along the Jurassic Coast is nothing but exhilarating in the winter-time!
Starting at Charmouth, you’ll first climb up Stonebarrow Hill where you’ll be rewarded with dramatic and windswept sea views. You’ll then have another hill to climb before tackling the beast that is Golden Cap. At 627ft, it’s the highest point on the south coast. The summit offers incredible views and on a clear, cold, crisp day, you can’t beat it!
Your efforts will be duly rewarded at the foot of Golden Cap where the popular Anchor Inn nestles in its shadow. Here you can enjoy a craft ale by the log fire or a classy winter cocktail by the bar, whilst watching the waves crash in.
Photo courtesy of Jurassic Coast Guides
Enjoy the fresh country air on a bracing winter’s walk around the Melbury Estate. Feel the crunch of leaves underfoot, follow magical woodland pathways and spot fallow, red and sika deer.
Afterwards, the 16th century, quintessentially English, Acorn Inn is the ideal spot to spend a lazy afternoon with its honey coloured stone flagstone floors, low beamed ceiling and roaring fire.
And if after your exertions you feel like drifting off into the land of nod, you can always stay the night in one of their 10 stylish rooms named after the characters and settings in Thomas Hardy’s ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’.