Dorset's Countryside

Planning an escape to the country? Then Dorset’s stunning countryside and coastal scenery, little changed since the days of local author Thomas Hardy, offers the perfect bolt hole!

Experience our beautiful county through the seasons. From bluebell bedecked woodlands in spring and the vibrant purple of sun-warmed heaths in summer to autumnal shades of golden yellow and drinks around cosy pub fires in winter.

Wherever you choose to go, follow the Countryside Code and respect, protect and enjoy Dorset on your day out.

Action and adventure in the countryside

If you have an appetite for some action and adventure then you won’t be disappointed – Dorset’s magnificent countryside is packed full of it! See our scenery from a different perspective - perhaps from a quadbike, a horse or even the soaring heights of a hot air balloon! 

Try a regular activity with a twist - meet new companions on a walk with a llama or a donkey. Saddle up for some off-road biking on the Sika Cycle Trail in Wareham Forest, or try the winding singletrack route through the trees at Moors Valley.

Take the opportunity to try a range of sports and activities, from orienteering to angling, rowing on the river to bushcraft, there are so many ways to experience our countryside.

At one with nature

Explore our varied countryside in search of some of Britain’s rarest flora and fauna - can you spot an elusive otter or glimpse the turquoise flash of a kingfisher along the river?  Keep an eye out for the diminutive Dartford Warbler or one of the six British reptile species, all to be found on Dorset’s protected heathlands.

With an abundance of stunning wildlife to be discovered, our county is a must for lovers of the natural world. Take in the breath taking scenery and beautiful wildlife to be found along the Legacy Trail from Weymouth to Portland.

Covered by two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, numerous nature reserves and sites of special scientific interest, Dorset is the perfect spot to enjoy Britain’s wildlife. 

A walkers paradise

Discover picturesque valleys, sweeping downlands with their panoramic views and hidden villages, on a gentle stroll or longer walk, there are over 4,700 footpaths to chose from!

Feel the refreshing sea air on a walk to charming West Bay, or a stroll up the hillside to the white horse at Osmington or the infamous Cerne Abbas Giant.

Rural heritage

Imagine yourself treading in the footsteps of ancient warriors as you climb one of Dorset’s Iron Age hill forts - the views from the top will take your breath away!

Feel the power of our many rivers at a well preserved mill; why not enjoy seeing the machinery in action at Sturminster Newton Mill? 

Savour a taste of the countryside on a visit to one of the area’s farm shops or regular farmers’ markets, the producers will be proud to talk to you about the provenance of their goods.

Countryside inspiration

Famously known as the heart of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex, the outstanding beauty of Dorset’s countryside has charged the imagination of many great writers, musicians, artists and movie makers.

Dorset’s rustic setting hit the big screen in 2015 as the backdrop for Thomas Vinterberg’s adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s 1874 novel, Far from the Madding Crowdand you may also recognise our dramatic coastline from multi-award winning ITV drama Broadchurch!

Book your rural retreat!

With so much to explore a day will never be enough, so book yourself a break and start planning your mini escape to the country!

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