Whether you want an eco-friendly holiday or just want to leave the car at home for the day, we have some great ideas for car free days out in Dorset.

From walking the South West Coast Path and cycling through the Dorset countryside to cruising along the Jurassic Coast and enjoying open-top bus adventures, there are lots of options for exploring the area.

Why not also check out our walking and cycling routes and travel information for some extra ideas?

A Sea Train Adventure

Start your journey at Poole Quay in the morning and board a boat for your Sea Train Adventure with City Cruises and Swanage Railway. Cruise through Poole Harbour and around the Jurassic Coastline passing Old Harry Rocks on the way to the seaside resort of Swanage.

Corfe Castle railway station

From the railway station, jump on one of Swanage Railway's vintage trains to travel through beautiful countryside to the picture postcard village of Corfe Castle.

You can either travel back the same way or catch a Purbeck Breezer bus back to Poole Bus Station via Wareham. You can get a Route One bus from Poole Bus Station to Poole Quay or walk 15 minutes via the High Street.

Explore the South West Coast Path

The 630 mile South West Coast Path links South Haven Point in Dorset to Minehead in Somerset and is the UK's longest National Trail. There are lots of different walking routes to choose from. Why not walk one way and catch a Purbeck Breezer or Jurassic Coaster bus back again?

Here is one of our favourite routes. Take the path out of Seatown, up towards the summit of Golden Cap. After a strenuous, 30-45-minute hike up 191 metres, you’ll have conquered the highest point on the south coast of England! From the summit you have three choices. Head back to Seatown by 1: returning the same way or 2: follow the 4.5-mile (7.2km) circular route past the ruins of the 13th Century St Gabriel’s Chapel (around the wooded slopes of Langdon Hill).

Seatown and Golden Cap

Alternatively continue westwards along the Coast Path and walk the 3 miles (4.8km) down to Charmouth. Here you can learn all about the Jurassic Coast at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. Then hook up with a guide on a fossil hunting tour of the local beach and cliffs. Return via the Jurassic Coaster X51 or X53 buses to Chideock, then a short walk back to Seatown.

Poole and Wareham

Greenslades Pleasure Boats depart from either Poole Quay or Wareham Quay. Cruise along the River Frome and around Poole Harbour where you will see Brownsea Island, the biggest of the islands and if you're lucky you might even spot a harbour seal along the way. To return to your starting point, either catch the boat back again (only available for departures from Poole) or catch the Purbeck Breezer and Route One bus.

Wareham Quay, Dorset

If leaving from Poole Quay, a return boat trip takes 3.5 hours with 1 hour ashore in Wareham. Or you can return from Wareham to Poole using the Purbeck Breezer number 40 bus via Farmer Palmers Adventure Park – you can get 10% off the admission price with your bus ticket. The bus terminates at Poole Bus Station, where you can transfer to the Route One bus or walk 15 minutes back to Poole Quay.

Generally, cruises leaving Poole Quay depart late morning. So if you are travelling from Wareham Quay, you can either travel out in the morning by catching the Purbeck Breezer number 40 bus from South Bridge bus stop (opposite the Discover Purbeck Information Centre) to Poole Bus Station for connecting buses to Poole Quay (Route One bus). Then return to Wareham by a Greenslade Pleasure Boat from Poole Quay, which will take approx 90 minutes. Alternatively, catch the boat from Wareham to Poole in the afternoon, spend some time exploring Poole Quay and then walk 15 minutes to Poole Bus Station to catch the Purbeck Breezer number 40 bus back to South Bridge bus stop in Wareham.

Bournemouth and Poole Sightseeing Open Top Bus

From April to September, City Sightseeing Bournemouth bus connects Boscombe, Bournemouth, Poole and Sandbanks with a double decker hop on/hop off guided tour stopping at beaches, attractions and towns. Enjoy the panoramic views from the open top deck. It's a great way to combine your transport for the day with places to see along the way.

City Sightseeing Bournemouth bus

Tickets are available for 24 hours or 48 hours. You can also book tickets for bus and bike (with Beryl Bikes), as well as bus and boat (with City Cruises Poole)

Christchurch, Mudeford Sandbank and Hengistbury Head

Start at Tuckton Tea Gardens and follow the Stour Valley Way walking route to Wick Ferry and then Hengistbury Head. Be sure to admire views of Christchurch Priory church and stop at the Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre. You can then either carry on walking to Mudeford Sandbank or take the land train. At the end of the Sandbank, catch a vintage ferry back to Tuckton. If you have time, you could stop off at Christchurch Quay on the way.

Bournemouth Boating Services ferry at Christchurch Harbour, Dorset

If you walk from Tuckton to Mudeford Sandbank it will take approx. 90 minutes - walking on the harbour side of Hengistbury Head is the flatter route, but walking on the coastal side over the top of the headland means you'll get some amazing views of Bournemouth, Christchurch and the Isle of Wight.

If you decide not to walk, you can get a return vintage ferry from Tuckton to the Sandbank, calling at Wick (and the fabulous Captains Club Hotel) and Christchurch Quay along the way. Make sure you spend some time relaxing on the golden sand of the sandbank beach. If your schedule allows, there is also a ferry connecting the Sandbank to Mudeford Quay across the mouth of the harbour, which is lovely for a short walk or refreshment stop.

You can catch bus numbers 1, 1b or 33 to Tuckton with Yellow Buses. Bus number 33 also connects with Hengistbury Head.

Poole Harbour Trails

Poole Harbour is the largest natural harbour in Europe and half of the harbour is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. You can walk around the edge of the Harbour using 6 walking routes. Each section of the Trail is between 7 to 8 miles in length, travelling past beaches, woodlands, rivers or heathland. They are designed as one-way walks so that you can return to your starting point by bus, or continue walking onto the next section of the Trail.

Brands Bay, Poole Harbour, Dorset

Burton Bradstock, West Bay and Lyme Regis

You have two choices for your walking route from Burton Bradstock to West Bay. You can either take the 3 mile coastal route or 4.5 mile inland route. Then feel the wind in your hair with water taxi ride between West Bay and Lyme Regis with Lyme Bay Rib Charter.

Lyme Bay RIB Charter, Dorset

After spending some time exploring charming Lyme Regis, catch the Jurassic Coaster bus number X53 back to Burton Bradstock.

North Dorset Trailway

For 14 miles between Sturminser Newton and Spetisbury you can walk or cycle using the North Dorset Trailway. Along the way, you can explore the market town of Blandford Forum, visit Fiddleford Manor and step back in time at the restored Sturminser Newton mill.

Sturminster Newton Mill, Dorset

There are a number of circular routes from the Trailway or you can walk one-way and return by bus. The X8 bus operates between Spetisbury and Blandford Forum. And the X10 bus runs between Blandford Forum, Shillingstone and Sturminster Newton.

Dorchester, Weymouth and Portland

Wide and sweeping coastal views are combined with quiet valleys on this splendid walk from Dorchester to Weymouth. After passing Max Gate, the home of Thomas Hardy, the route then takes you through woods and close to Winterborne Came Church, the resting place of the Dorset poet William Barnes. The walk then continues through a gentle valley before emerging to give stunning views of the sea before descending through the picturesque village of Sutton Poyntz and then the final coastal walk into Weymouth. The walk is 10 miles long but can be shortened to 6 by finishing at Sutton Poyntz and catching the number 4a bus into Weymouth.

Weymouth Harbour

You can then take the open top Jurassic Coaster bus number 501 from Weymouth over to the Isle of Portland and onward to Portland Bill. Take time to explore the Lighthouse and nearby Pulpit Rock before returning to Weymouth on the 501 bus, then onward to Dorchester by bus or train.

Castleman Trailway

The Castleman Trailway’s 16 mile route follows much of the old Southampton to Dorchester railway line between the towns of Ringwood and Poole. It is suitable for both walking and cycling and if you don't have your own bike, you can hire one from Moors Valley Country Park.

Cycling at Moors Valley Country Park, Dorset

The Trailway connects Upton Country Park, with Moors Valley Country Park and Avon Heath Country Park via the picturesque town of Wimborne Minster. It is split into sections if you don’t want to tackle the whole route in one go. And buses are available between towns so that you can return back to your starting point.

Related

City Cruises Poole
Boat Trip
Solent Scene boat cruise

Cruises operate daily from Poole Quay and Swanage Pier (1st April - 31st October 2019). We offer a wide selection of cruises along the Jurassic coast, trips to the Victorian resort at Swanage and the Steam Railway, Poole Harbour cruises, evening cruises or private charters.

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.

Purbeck Breezer
Bus and Coach
Purbeck Breezer 40 bus in Corfe Castle village

Hop on board a scenic Purbeck Breezer bus to see dazzling white chalk cliffs, heathlands that stretch to the horizon, picturesque villages, a charming seaside resort that still has steam trains, and a romantic castle perched high on a hill. The open-top* route 50 gets you to some of the best beaches in England, not to mention it's a perfect way to enjoy spectacular cliff top walks without the need to retrace your steps. *Open top services cannot always be guaranteed due to operational reasons and inclement weather.

South West Coast Path
Walking Route
Durdle Door beach at sunrise

The Dorset Coast Path forms part of the 630 mile South West Coast Path National Trail.

Greenslade Pleasure Boats
Boat Trip
Greenslade Pleasure Boats at Brownsea Island

Daily trips running from March – October to Brownsea Island, Poole Harbour Cruises, Coastal Cruises and Wareham River Cruises.

Lyme Bay RIB Charter
Boat Trip
Lyme Bay RIB Charter

Exciting & exhilarating boat trips running from West Bay along the Jurassic Coast.

North Dorset Trailway
Walking Route
The North Dorset Trailway - photo by Graham Rains

The North Dorset Trailway is a walking, cycling and horse riding route from Sturminster Newton to Spetisbury.

West Dorset Walks - Dorchester to Weymouth Trail
Walking Route
West Dorset Walks - Dorchester to Weymouth Trail

Wide and sweeping coastal views are combined with quiet valleys on this splendid walk. After passing Max Gate, the home of Thomas Hardy, the route then takes you through woods and close to Winterborne Came Church, the resting place of the Dorset poet William Barnes. The walk then continues through a gentle valley before emerging to give stunning views of the sea before descending through the picturesque village of Sutton Poyntz and then the final coastal walk into Weymouth. The walk is 10 miles long but can be shortened to 6 by finishing at Sutton Poyntz. Walking boots or stout shoes are recommended.

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest
Country/Royal Park
Enjoy a cycle ride at Moors Valley

To inject a sense of fun into your family days out then head to Moors Valley Country Park and Forest to get active in the outdoors and have yourself a family adventure. You are sure to find something for everyone.

2 Comments

Comments

  1. Lyndiloo
    Could you please confirm that the castlemain railway is mobility scooter friendly all the way from Poole to Moors Valley? As a few years ago I cycled it and had to negotiate one or two stiles tight gates which I could lift my bike over but not my now mode of transport mobility scooter.
  2. Visit Dorset
    As far as I can see, there are some parts of the Trailway where the path is for both walkers and cyclists, and other sections where the paths are split. Presumably if the path is suitable for a bike, then there would not be stiles, however there may be gates. We would recommend contacting Dorset Council to confirm if the Trailway is suitable for your mobility scooter. Please email: william.holland@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk

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