© Paul Williams
Top 10 Walks in Dorset
Walking is one of the best ways to see beautiful Dorset because you can get to the parts of the coast and countryside that are not accessible by car, bus or train. Why not try one of our walks and experience some stunning scenery?
Here are our top ten picks, the hardest part is choosing which one to walk first!
Corfe Castle to Ballard Down
Part of the Purbeck Way, this 9 mile route takes you from the historic village of Corfe Castle and along the Purbeck Ridge to Ballard Down. You then follow the South West Coast Path into Swanage. Why not stop at the beach or a tearoom before catching a steam train from Swanage Railway or bus back to Corfe Castle? During the summer, Ballard Down is one of the best sites in Britain to see several species of blue butterfly, including the Adonis blue.
West Bay and Eype
Starting at West Bay, this 4.5 mile walk travels along the South West Coast Path towards Thorncombe Beacon. The route then heads inland through Lower Eype on the way back to West Bay. There are some steep slopes to tackle but the views of the Jurassic Coast are definitely worth it and there are cafes along the way to rest and refuel.
Lyme Regis undercliff
A challenging but rewarding 7 mile walk from Seaton in Devon to Lyme Regis which takes you through the Lyme Regis undercliff as described in John Fowles’ book The French Lieutenants Woman. This area of landslides and tumbled coastline feels so wild you would not be surprised to glimpse a pterodactyl here! Walk one way and catch the bus back. Lyme Regis was home to the famous fossil collector Mary Anning – after you've finished your walk why not look round the fossil shops and town museum or enjoy a Dorset cream tea?
If you want to climb to the highest point on the south coast of Britain, this is the walk for you! Starting at Highlands End Holiday Park, this 4.5 mile walk takes in the 191 metre high Golden Cap summit, named after the golden greensand rock which can be seen from afar.
A circular route starting at Cranborne, this 5 mile walk overlooks the ridges of Cranborne Chase and takes in farmland tracks, wooded footpaths and quiet lanes.
Worth Matravers and Winspit
Follow in the footsteps of 18th Century Dorset smuggler Issac Gulliver along this 3 mile walk which starts at Worth Matravers. The route takes in the stunning Purbeck limestone coast between Winspit and Seacombe, used for quarrying (and smuggling!).
Hengistbury Head to Sandbanks
This 10 mile linear route follows the flat promenade from the end of Hengistbury Head beach where it meets Southbourne Beach all the way to Sandbanks Beach at Poole. You don't have to walk the entire length of this route as there are many places to start and end your walk along the way. You could also hire a Beryl Bike or Beryl E-scooter for part of the journey or hop on the land train for the section between Boscombe Pier and Bournemouth Pier. There are lots of cafes and kiosks to grab something to eat or drink during your journey and of course the gorgeous sandy beaches are right next to the promenade if you choose to dip your toes in the water or rest a while on the sand.
Have you only got an hour to spare but want a stunning view across Dorset? This one mile walk takes around 30-40 minutes with some hilly terrain, but you will want to linger longer and enjoy the views of the countryside. This National Trust owned site has deep ramparts which date back to the Iron Age and a Roman fort. The chalk downland supports spectacular flowers and butterflies and Hod Hill overlooks the River Stour.
Starting from the car park near the Portland Bill lighthouse, this 3 mile walk is easy with few stretches of ascent and descent. It's a great way to see the fascinating landscape of Portland Bill associated with quarrying. The Portland Race led to many ships being wrecked over the centuries, and the towers of three lighthouses can still be seen here. This is a birdwatchers paradise, particularly during the spring and autumn migration.
Studland and Agglestone
Dorset is famous for its heathland, why not explore it for yourself? This 3 mile walk starts at Studland Middle Beach and goes through Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve. Local legend has it that the Devil threw the Agglestone rock from the Isle of Wight with the intention of hitting Corfe Castle! Finish your walk with a swim in the sea, sunbathe on the long sandy beach at Studland, have a go at water sports or relax in the café.
Discover the best places in Dorset to find the perfect view.
Want to discover more of the county join a guided tour and get the most out of your visit.
Our favourite places for a summertime picnic.
There are so many things to see and do in Dorset which cost little to nothing.