Enjoy Our Unique Habitats

Do enjoy our unique habitats – they’re no place for campfires or BBQs.

Dorset is well known for being a beautiful and rural county. Many visitors choose to have a holiday or day trip here for the stunning landscapes, rolling hills and amazing coastline. And we need your help to protect our countryside and unique habitats now and for the future.

Why Dorset is so special

Did you know that over half the county are Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there are 66 nature reserves and 141 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Dorset?

Dorset is also one of the few counties in England where you will find heathland – a precious habitat that is now rarer than rainforests. It is home to curious creatures such as Sand Lizards, Slow Worms and Smooth Snakes, as well as ground nesting birds like the Nightjar.

During the summer, the heathlands turn a glorious shade of purple and yellow as the heather and gorse bushes start to flower. Summer is also when the heaths are at their driest and even the smallest flame from a barbeque or open fire can spread. Many people might not be aware that having a BBQ or campfire on heathland is illegal.

Wareham Forest Fire

In 2020 there was a devasting fire at Wareham Forest where over 220 acres (the size of 230 football pitches) was destroyed and the fire burned for two weeks. Large areas of the Forest are heathland and part of it is a National Nature Reserve. The fire was thought to have started by a discarded disposable BBQ.

Enjoy a BBQ in the right place

That’s not to say that BBQs are not welcome at all in Dorset. Many of our campsites allow you to bring your own BBQ or fire pit and there are other outdoor places to visit which have designated BBQ areas.

If in doubt whether you are allowed to have a BBQ or not, why not swap your BBQ for a picnic. Afterall, BBQs can burn more than bangers.

Do enjoy our wonderful county – promise to love Dorset

Scroll down the page for ideas and inspiration of where you can reconnect with nature and explore the great outdoors in Dorset.

What does your Dorset look like? Adventures on our epic coastline? Visiting attractions with family? A walk through the beautiful countryside? Or perhaps a chilled out evening eating and drinking with friends? Discover a sample of your #VisitDorset images below and share your love for Dorset using the hashtag on Instagram.