Hikes in Dorset
Coastal landscapes made up of limestone arches and chalk headlands are what awaits on an exciting walking adventure in the picturesque county of Dorset in the southwest of England. With three quarters of the shoreline being made up of the 185 million year old Jurassic Coast, you will have plenty of opportunities to traverse the rugged coastal terrain along the English Channel and explore the rich geological history of the region through its many impressive landmarks.
When you aren’t walking along the coast and visiting popular sites like the impressive Durdle Door and scenic Lulworth Cove, you will have the opportunity to explore the rolling landscape of the interior of Dorset, over half of which is designated as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Furthermore, there are countless historical and cultural sites to experience in the county, with the 12th Century Forde Abbey and the cheeky hill figure known as the Cerne Abbas Giant being popular destinations for visitors to the area.
While the terrain in Dorset may be varied, and in some instances quite challenging, there are a plentiful amount of walking routes to suit every age and skill level. So whether you are a beginner walker looking for a low-lying riverside adventure or a seasoned outdoor enthusiast wanting to tackle the rugged terrain along the Jurassic Coast, you will find that Dorset has all that you need for an unforgettable walking excursion in the southwest of England.
Best Hikes in Dorset
Forde Abbey Walk
The Forde Abbey Walk is a beautifully scenic adventure in Dorset, England that will lead you through the countryside to view a 12th Century Cistercian Abbey. While out walking the trail, you will cross open fields populated with livestock and pass by the historic abbey, before making your way over the River Axe for some scenic riverside views. Although navigation can be a bit tricky at times, this is a great walk that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
Golden Cap Walk
The Golden Cap Walk is an exceptional walking route in Dorset, England that will lead you up to the summit of a seaside hill for some beautiful views along the coast. While out walking the trail, you will climb up the rugged coastal terrain to reach the viewpoint atop Golden Cap, before looping around through the picturesque Dorset countryside. While there are a few steep inclines along the route, this is a great route to catch some amazing views on a clear weather day.
Durlston Head and Anvil Point Lighthouse Walk
The Durlston Head and Anvil Point Lighthouse Walk is a beautifully scenic adventure in Dorset that will take you along the coast to experience views of the English Channel and nearby historical buildings. While out walking the trail, you will pass by the 19th Century Durlston Castle and continue along the coast until you reach the site of the Anvil Point Lighthouse that was built from local stone in 1881. This is a great trail for anyone looking for historic buildings or scenic seaside views.
Old Harry Rocks via Coast Path Walk
Walking the Old Harry Rocks via Coast Path is a fantastic outdoor experience in Dorset that will allow you to explore the easternmost portion of the beautifully scenic Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO Heritage Site. While out on the trail, you will pass by Studland South Beach and traverse the coastal landscape to view the fascinating limestone formation known as Old Harry Rocks, before continuing along the water’s edge and into Swanage. This is a bit of a longer route and some parts are fairly steep; however, the views along the coast are stunning.
Minterne Magna Loop
The Minterne Magna Loop is a great walking route in the Dorset countryside that will see you climb uphill along one of the UKs most well-known hill figures. While out walking the trail, you will pass by the Cerne Abbas Giant, a 55 m tall chalk hill figure of a nude male, before looping around the surrounding landscape and passing through several charming villages. While this route isn’t overly difficult, it is fairly overgrown in certain areas and might require you to use a GPS.
Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door and Ringstead Bay Walk
The Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door and Ringstead Bay Walk is an amazing walking route in Dorset that will allow you to experience some of the best sights along the Jurassic Coast. While out walking the trail, you will head west from Lulworth Cove and traverse the rugged coastal landscape to reach the old lookout point over Ringstead, before heading downhill past Bat’s Head and Durdle Door. This is an exceptional route if you are trying to squeeze several amazing coastal highlights into one walk.
Langdon Hill and Golden Cap Walk
The Langdon Hill and Golden Cap Walk is a beautifully scenic walking route in Dorset that will see you traverse the undulating terrain of the Jurassic Coast for views across the English Channel. While out walking the trail, you will make your way along the forested slopes of Langdon hill, before climbing further uphill to the viewpoint atop Golden Cap. This is a great bang for your buck route if you are looking for a quick adventure with beautiful views.
Melbury Downs Circular Walk
The Melbury Downs Circular Walk is a fantastic outdoor excursion in Dorset that will allow you to experience the undulating landscape that is characteristic of this part of England. While out walking the trail, you will make your way through open fields and traverse the rolling countryside while taking in the scenic views of the surrounding chalk hills. This is a lovely trail if you are looking to get out for a spot of exercise and enjoy a pleasant backdrop while doing so.
Lulworth Cove to Flowers Barrow Circular Walk
The Lulworth Cove to Flowers Barrow Circular Walk is a beautifully scenic, but challenging adventure along the Jurassic Coast of Dorset that offers stunning views of the English Channel. While out walking the trail, you will climb uphill along the rugged coastal landscape to reach a scenic viewpoint near the Iron Age hillfort of Flowers Barrow, before descending alongside the water’s edge past Lulworth Cove. There are some difficult stretches along this route; however the views are well worth the effort.
Corfe Castle to Swanage Walk
The Corfe Castle to Swanage Walk is a beautifully scenic walking route that will lead you along Purbeck Ridge for elevated views of the Dorset landscape. While out walking the trail, you will make your way through Corfe Castle village and take in views of the castle itself, before climbing uphill along the Purbeck ridge to enjoy breathtaking views all the way into Swanage. Walkers should take note that this is a one-way trail, so be sure to make travel arrangements or plan on utilizing the Swanage Heritage Railway for the return journey.
Isle of Portland Circular Walk
Walking the Isle of Portland Circular Trail is a fun adventure along the Dorset Coast that will lead you around a land-tied island for some stunning views of the English Channel. While out walking the trail, you will make your way along the coast to reach the southernmost point of the island at Portland Bill, before looping around to make your way past several historic buildings. This is a fantastic walking route that features largely easy-going terrain with a few mildly challenging sections for good measure.
West Bay to Weymouth
Walking the South West Coast Path: West Bay to Weymouth is a lengthy adventure along the Dorset coast that produces some stunning views across the English Channel. While out on the trail, you will make your way along a scenic stretch of beach that extends for miles in front of you before climbing slightly uphill on the way into Weymouth. While this route is long, it features very little in the way of elevation gain, allowing you to cover ground quickly and enjoy the seaside sights.
Weymouth to Lulworth Cove
The South West Coast Path: Weymouth to Lulworth Cove is a rugged, yet beautifully scenic adventure along the Dorset coast that offers amazing views of the English Channel. Rocky cliffs, charming coves, and windy vistas await on this adventurous portion of the famous South West Coast Path. Be sure to wear proper walking boots and bring a windproof jacket, as the trail is fairly rugged and there are often strong gusts of wind along the exposed trail.
Lulworth Cove to Swanage
Walking the South West Coast Path: Lulworth Cove to Swanage is a long and physically demanding excursion along the Devon coast, thanks to the overall distance of the trail and the large amount of elevation gain throughout. While exploring the trail, you will make your way along the undulating terrain of the coastal landscape, taking in the stunning views across the English Channel as you make your way between Lulworth Cove and Swanage. While it can be done as a very long single day walk, this adventure is often split up into a multi-day journey.
Swanage to Haven Point
Walking the South West Coast Path: Swanage to Haven Point is a beautifully scenic and somewhat joyous experience, as it covers the final leg of the famous 1,013.9 km long national trail, the South West Coast Path. While out on the trail, you will leave Swanage behind and traverse the final stretch of the Dorset coast, as you make your way through the Studland and Godlingston Heath NNR on the way to the endpoint at a ferry crossing. While the previous sections of the trail are fairly long and arduous, this segment is moderate in length and features little elevation gain, making for an easy finish to a physically demanding journey.
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