Walking Holidays in Dorset - Wessex
An Introduction to Dorset-Wessex
Dorset walks guide you through a green, rural county with cute villages and fishing ports that were once the haunt of smugglers. Dorset is bucolic, historical and majestic, and just a little out of step with the times.
On Dorset coastal walks the seascapes are exhilarating and at the same time they've been intriguing scientists for hundreds of years. Beginning in Lyme Regis walks in Dorset will trail along the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site with craggy sedimentary cliffs and beaches strewn with fossils. You can make literary discoveries on Dorset Walks, in the county where Thomas Hardy grew up and which inspired his Wessex Novels. Hardy's birthplace, a National Trust property, is a thatched cottage a few miles walking through undulating countryside from Dorchester. Then, after venturing through the old Kingdom of Wessex you'll return to the Dorset Coastal Path for a fitting finale at Lulworth Cove.
Best Time of Year for Walking in Dorset-Wessex
The ideal time for walks in Dorset has to be May or June. You should be in for some good weather, and the meadows will be dappled with wildflowers. You'll also beat the summer rush, as the trails of the Dorset coast can get pretty busy at the height of the season. Although if you're a fossil hunter you're actually better off planning your Dorset hiking trip for the winter months when the choppy seas churn up new finds.
Highlights of Walking in Dorset-Wessex
A gigantic shingle beach, 29 kilometres long, disappearing into the distance and with one of the Jurassic Coast's prime fossil-hunting spots on its landward side.
A mighty natural arch with a giant portal facing a shingle beach that is hemmed in by chalk and limestone cliffs.
A horseshoe bay in a stirring seascape of high, grass-topped cliffs forming a bowl and almost joining at the cove's mouth.
The Cobb at Lyme Regis
You can skirt the 13th-century harbour at Lyme Regis atop the old terraced pier, gazing out to sea or down at the little fishing craft and cottages at the harbour entrance.
Celtic resistance to the Roman invasion fell at this hill fort dating back 5,500 years just outside Dorchester. The earthworks are massive, covering an area larger than 50 football pitches.
Food and Drink while Walking in Dorset-Wessex
You're in cream tea country in Dorset where scones are slathered with thick Blackmore Vale clotted cream and local jam. While Palmers is a name you'll see on pumps at village pubs. Their brewery is based in Bridport and the club have been brewing ale with malted barley and hops since 1794. Inland, Dorset's gentle climate and flowing chalk downs are just right for sparkling wine. And the coast means fish & chips and lobster fresh from the sea.
Why Else Take a Walking Holiday to Dorset-Wessex?
There's always something going on, whether it's the Bridport Food & Beer Festival
and the Weymouth Folk Festival
in June or Carnival and Regatta Week
in Lyme Regis in August. And there's much more natural splendour. Take Undercliff National Nature Reserve around Lyme Regis, a strange landscape caused by ancient landslips. Or the epic Golden Cap, the highest point on England's southern coast and another prime fossil site.
How to Get to Dorset-Wessex and Away
There are hourly trains from London Waterloo station down to Axminster near Lyme Regis for a journey time of roughly 2 hours and 45 minutes. On the return leg, Wool Station is a little way north of Lulworth Cove and will get you back to London in 2.45hrs again.
More information on Dorset & Wessex
Dorset is one of the few English counties without a motorway and is also without a single city. The village of Abbotsbury doesn't even have street lighting, so you'll be stepping back in time in the best possible way. Lyme Regis meanwhile was the town of Mary Anning. She was a self-taught fossil collector who made discoveries in the 1800s that transformed our understanding of the Jurassic Period
, despite being shunned by the scientific community of the time. Walks in Dorset can also lead you to the Cerne Abbas Giant
, a monumental hill figure etched in the chalk. This character is defiantly naked and wielding a club. The first mention dates to the 17th century, but there are claims it could have pre-Roman origins.
If you'd like to find out more, Lisa, our Dorset expert, has left some tips on our Dorset Coast Path blog article
Walking Holidays in Dorset & Wessex