If you want to get out and about and stretch your legs, there’s no better way to explore Dorset than on foot. Seek out a cosy coffee shop with a stroll around one of our quaint market towns, or take a hike and find stunning views at every angle.

Quaint Market Towns

Spend a day in a town you’ve always wanted to explore and pootle in and out of delightful shops, visit much loved attractions and stop off for a bite to eat in a local café.

Soak up the character of Sherborne by admiring the grand buildings and discover buckets of history, walk along the beautiful river and visit the weekly market in Blandford Forum or ramble down the cobbled streets of Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.

Steep cobbled streets at Gold Hill, Dorset

Stroll along Dorset's Coast

Look for miles across breathtaking landscapes and let the crisp sea air refresh you as you wander along our stunning coastline.

Dorset's coast is perfect for dog walking and if you fancy, you can make your way down to the shoreline and let your four legged friends burn off some energy in the cool water!

Fabulous view of walkers towards Durdle Door

Simple Wonders of Nature

Roam the grounds of stately homes, ancient ruins and countryside & heathlands to appreciate the simple wonders of nature.

Dorset has lots of National Trust and English Heritage sites that are surrounded by impressive landscapes. As you walk, spot heaps of wildlife as they go about their day. At the end of your route, why not treat yourself to a hot chocolate or a hearty lunch in a cosy pub next to the fire.

Soaking up the nature on a coast path

Highest Point of the South Coast

Take on a challenge and step out of your usual comfort zone for a visit to the highest point of the south coast at Golden Cap – trust us, the end result is worth it!

Take advantage of the fresh autumn air and enjoy some of Dorset’s most picturesque views and surroundings at an ancient hill fort. Alternatively ramble along the South West Coast Path to see Dorset from a completely new angle!

There are lots of walking trails and routes for you to try with miles of glorious countryside and stunning coast. Or if you prefer, have an adventure off the beaten track to find the best picnic spots or discover hidden bays.  

beautiful view of the coast from Golden Cap

Literary Dorset

Re-live your favourite books for real on a themed walking trail!

Discover the heart of Hardy's Wessex and visit Hardy's Cottage along the Hardy Trail or find out more about the internationally famous writer T.E Lawrence on the Lawrence of Arabia trail.

Adventure like the Famous Five on Purbeck's Enid Blyton Trail and visit Purbeck’s inspiring locations that feature in her novels such as Brownsea Island, Corfe Castle, Lulworth Cove and the enormous glistening Blue Pool. If you find yourself in the seaside town of Swanage, put your feet up and take a ride home on the Swanage Steam Railway.

Enid Blyton Trail map

There are loads of opportunities to get out and about in your walking boots.

Whether you're a newbie or an experienced walker, why not try the Isle of Purbeck Walking Festival which is held annually and is a great opportunity to explore the county.

Check out our walking pages for ideas and inspiration to get your feet on the go!

Related

Sherborne
Market Town
Sherborne Abbey

Located to the north of West Dorset, this historic Ham Stone town nestles in green valleys and wooded hills and is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful towns in England.

Blandford Forum
Countryside
Market Place, Rachael Piper Harding©

Stunning Georgian town on the River Stour with a selection of shops, pubs, restaurants and cafes. Learn about the towns fiery history in the town museum, enjoy a tour of the local brewery or learn about costume at the Fashion Museum.

Blandford Forum Market
Outdoor Market
Blandford Market fruit and vegetable stall

Markets are held on Thursdays and Saturdays each week in the Market Place throughout the year. Trading hours are between 8.30am and 4.30pm with a variety of goods being sold, these may include food, luggage, clothing or household goods.

Gold Hill
Historic Site
Gold Hill, Shaftesbury. Photo credit Rachel Baker

Come and stand on the ancient cobbles of Gold Hill, Shaftesbury a glorious setting made famous in the much loved "Hovis" advert. Take in the stunning vista down the hill and across the surrounding Dorset countryside.

Shaftesbury
Market Town
Shaftesbury, Gold Hill

Saxon hilltop town with famous Gold Hill and stunning views. Visit the abbey ruins and gardens, Gold Hill Museum or browse old-fashioned shops and stores.

Golden Cap
National Trust Property
Golden Cap

The National Trust car parks at Golden Cap are now open. There are limited spaces, so if the car park is full please come back another time. Golden Cap is a high, flat-topped hill of deep orange sandstone on the cliffs between Charmouth and Bridport, and is comprised of two ages of rock from the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The Cap is the highest point on the south coast, at 627ft (191m), with views along the shore to the tip of Portland Bill in one direction and to Start Point in the other. Inland, you can see Pilsdon Pen and as far as Dartmoor.

Hardy's Cottage
National Trust Property
Hardy's Cottage - Thomas Hardy's birthplace (photo credit National Trust Images/Chris Lacey)

*LATEST UPDATE* Hardy's Cottage is currently closed. Thomas Hardy was born in 1840 in this small cob and thatch cottage, which was built by his great-grandfather and is little altered since the family left. His early novels Under the Greenwood Tree and Far from the Madding Crowd were written here.

Lawrence of Arabia Trail
Walking Route
St Nicholas Church, Moreton

The 7 mile (11km) trail starts and finishes at Bovington’s Tank Museum taking in Lawrence’s home at Clouds Hill and his last resting place: the cemetery at Moreton.

Brownsea Island
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Red Squirrel on Brownsea Island

*LATEST UPDATE* Brownsea Island has now re-opened and tickets need to be booked in advance. You will need to purchase a separate ticket for the ferry from the kiosks on Poole Quay. A beautiful island with wonderful views, history & wildlife including rare red squirrels and birds, and is also the birthplace of Scouting and Guiding.

Corfe Castle
National Trust Property
Corfe Castle in spring

Adults and children alike will be captivated by the romantic Corfe Castle ruins and the breath-taking views across Purbeck.

Lulworth Cove
Natural Feature
Lulworth Cove, in Dorset

The pebble beach and blue waters of Lulworth Cove make it an extremely popular destination. The Cove and surrounding coastline are part of the world famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Low tide reveals wonderful rock pools teeming with sea creatures – great for exploring with children.

The Blue Pool Nature Reserve & Tearooms
Parkland/Woodland Garden
The Blue Pool in Dorset

The Blue Pool Nature Reserve & Tearooms is a unique attraction in the Isle of Purbeck.

Swanage
Coastal
Swanage Beach

This small town surrounds a beautiful curved bay and offers a seaside experience with a difference. Enjoy the soft sand and the award winning beach front whilst being surrounded by Purbeck’s natural beauty and wildlife.

Swanage Railway
Railway
Swanage Railway - photo taken by Andrew P.M. Wright

Enjoy a nostalgic steam-train ride on the Purbeck line. Trains run for most of the year - daily from April to October and most weekends throughout the year. Park at Norden then catch a train to travel 6 miles south to Swanage, passing through Corfe Castle village.

Isle of Purbeck Walking Festival
Festival
Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival

The Isle of Purbeck Walking Festival will run between 13th - 15th September, with a varied programme of great walks led by local experts. The beautiful Isle of Purbeck is a walker's paradise. Check the website for further information on the walks - don’t forget to book your accommodation and make the festival a great reason to have a break in Swanage and Purbeck.

South West Coast Path
Walking Route
Durdle Door beach at sunrise, Dorset (photo credit Steve Hogan)

The Dorset Coast Path forms part of the 630 mile South West Coast Path National Trail. Visit the Trail website for lots of ideas of various walking routes for all abilities.

1 Comments

Comments

  1. Pam in Canada
    I so wish I were back in Swanage to be able to do some of this!

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