There are so many beautiful places to walk your dogs in Dorset and one of my favourites is Thorncombe woods near Dorchester. In the deepest depths of Hardy country this incredible woodland and heathland is a fabulous place to visit.
There are a variety of walks to choose from that are all dog friendly although you are asked to keep dogs on leads at certain times of the year and areas of the woodland and heath.
The various routes are all very clearly signposted with the distance of each individual walk shown as well. There are picnic tables available also which makes it an ideal place to take children to run and play and have adventures.
Thorncombe woods is a place I choose sometimes on a warm day as the canopy of the woodland trees keeps you shaded and cool. There are 26 hectares of woodland and heathland to enjoy .You can of course take a route up onto the heath land and although it can be warmer, there are opportunities to see sand lizards sunning themselves and a variety of birds and wildlife.
There is a pond (rushy pond ) which in the past I have seen grass snakes swimming in and dragonfly's flitting. There is also at the moment, ponies running on the heath which is just wonderful to see.
There are routes that are set out for children in mind. And a trail that leads to Hardy's cottage, which is open to the public through the summer months.
I visited Thorncombe wood at the end of July and decided as it was a warm day to do a round robin walk that would bring us back to the café near the car park as we thought a light lunch would be a treat.
The walk was fabulous and we took the route to rushy pond and then up onto the heath where we saw the ponies in the distance relaxing in the shade. We then went back through the woodland as I adore the incredibly huge chestnut trees that tower so high, they are quite magnificent. It doesn't matter what time of year you go, Thorncombe is always beautiful. Whether it's to see the carpet of bluebells in the spring or to walk through the deep crisp leaves during the autumn, the ever changing landscape is just stunning.
We decided to have lunch at the café as it is nestled in the woodland area just a few steps from the car park and is set within the visitors centre. There are a generous amount of tables outside and the area is beautifully landscaped. We were surprised that it was quiet during the lunchtime peak season ( we were the only people) but when we ordered food we found perhaps the reason why. Although set in a fantastic place the dining experience was a little disappointing. The service was poor with no friendly greeting and when I returned a piece of cutlery that I discovered was quite dirty, I was not offered an apology, it was just taken from me with no word. With Covid in mind I was equally surprised when I was given my coffee while the mug was held by the rim and not the handle.
The cakes were very good and the outside seating area is just perfect to rest and have a drink after a long walk and dogs are welcome which is always a bonus!