Dorset Winter Walks
We count ourselves so lucky to live where we do. Stepping outside our front doors, we are instantly surrounded by rolling fields, filled with crops in the summer, beautiful streams and rivers and of course some fantastic woodland.
No matter what time of year it is, nothing beats popping on those wellies and heading off to explore new walks or even strolling along familiar paths. For me, this seems even better in Winter as we don our woolly hats and scarves, pop some gloves on too and head out to enjoy the little daylight that we get during these darker months.
First thing in the morning during Winter, when the sun is rising and the frost still hugs the leaves and grass, is personally my favourite time, as everything still feels so fresh and new. I thought I'd share with you some of my favourite Winter walks in Dorset, so that whether you're lucky enough to live here, or are just passing through, you'll get some ideas of where you can go too!
Rich in history and wildlife, walking on the National Trust’s Brownsea Island is like stepping into another world. This easy 1-mile walk is an enjoyable amble that will reveal stunning views to the Purbeck Hills and peaceful spots to watch the comings and goings in Poole Harbour. Seek out the red squirrels as they scamper on a carpet of rich red leaves, search for wildlife in the lily ponds, discover old ruins or forage for sweet chestnuts.
Distance: 1 mile
Dog-friendly? No dogs
The Purbeck Ridgeway
Grab your walking boots and head for the hills, this varied route takes you from the striking castle ruins of Corfe Castle towards the iconic chalk formations of Old Harry Rocks before following the coast path to Swanage. Enjoy impressive autumnal views over Poole Harbour, Swanage and towards the Isle of Wight. Why not jump aboard the Swanage Railway or take the number 40 bus to return to Corfe at the end of your rewarding walk?
Distance: 9.5 miles
Dog-friendly? Dogs welcome under close control but be aware that cattle and sheep graze the meadows and hilltops.
Dorchester to Hardy's Cottage
Walk in the footsteps of Thomas Hardy, the great English novelist and poet and discover his home and birthplace, hidden away in a remote setting in beautiful Thorncombe Woods. Visit Stinsford church, the resting place of Hardy’s heart and his two wives; Rushy Pond, mentioned in ‘The Withered Arm’ - a short story he wrote in 1888; and on to Hardy’s cottage itself, which is open from March until the end of October. Hardy’s Birthplace Visitor Centre offers displays, café, shop and a hub of activities for families and children to explore.
Distance: 7 miles
Dog-friendly? The woodland walk is dog friendly but you cannot take dogs into Hardy's cottage or the garden.
Beech Avenue and Droves - Kingston Lacy
The iconic Beech Avenue in Kingston Lacy was first planted in 1835 by William John Bankes, a former owner of the Kingston Lacey Estate, as a gift for his mother, Lady Bankes. The mile-long avenue has an impressive visual appeal, which is particularly impressive in autumn when the trees are drenched in an amber glow. It’s not difficult to see why this one road in Dorset is popular among photographers. This colourful route takes you to Beech Avenue and back along the outskirts of the beautiful Kingston Lacy parkland.
Distance: 3.8 miles