With its towering cliffs and sweeping panoramas, coastal Dorset is classic walking country. Local walking guide Andy Pedrick describes the appeal.
For walkers, Dorset is most famous for its 'Jurassic Coast', a UNESCO World Heritage Site extending the length of the country from Old Harry Rocks near Swanage to the Devon border - and beyond to Exmouth. It runs for some 95 miles, and comprises one of the most attractive stretches of the 630-mile South West Coast Path.
The coastal path is hilly, with regular sharp ascents and descents: a long walk can be quite demanding, while shorter strolls are ideal for family days out. As an alternative - and worth keeping in mind on busy weekends when the coast path is crowded - there is a series of excellent ridgeways a short distance inland along the high Purbeck ridge, which can be used as an alternative, and which command stunning views in all directions.
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Andy Pedrick has walked the length and breadth of Dorset during the past 20 years. He founded Jurassic Jaunts six years ago to help people make the most of their Jurassic Coast experience, by assisting with planning, and running tours, walks and talks plus giving free advice to people prior to and during their stay. There is so much to see and do in respect of culture, activities, history and...
A great ridgeway walk with views over Poole Harbour, Studland, the surrounding countryside and Swanage. Very good terrain.
From the car park at Kingston the highest point on the Isle of Purbeck can be reached after a gentle uphill walk of less than a mile. It gives stunning views along the coast to Kimmeridge Bay, Portland and St Aldhelm's Head.
The walk can be extended in various ways to take in Kimmeridge and/or the ridgeway to Tyneham village.
Forcibly evacuated in 1943 due to the area being required for D-Day training, this village has remains of some of the houses plus a school and a still-functioning church. There is a great walk to Gad Cliff, Wobarrow Bay, the steep Flowers Barrow ascent/descent where there is the remain of a supposedly haunted Iron Age Fort.
The perfect shell-shaped Lulworth Cove, the iconic Durdle Door arch and surrounding hills provide a truly superb walking route.
Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast of the UK at 191 metres (627 feet), is easy to access from Morcombelake, east of Charmouth. Excellent coastal walking and fossil hunting options.
Best times to go:
It's possible to enjoy walking here all year round, although naturally you are more likely to get wet and wind-battered in the rainy winter months. July and August can be unpleasantly crowded in the most popular areas, which leaves the spring and autumn as the optimum times.
April, May and June are particularly beautiful months, with a (slightly) improved chance of fine weather: skylarks trill high overhead and the wildflowers are out - Purbeck has a higher concentration of wildlflowers than anywhere else in England. Plus there is plenty of daylight in which to enjoy it all.
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