Inland or by the sea there is plenty of walking country around the Weymouth and Dorchester area of Dorset, covering long or short distances all of which take in some wonderful scenery with the chance of seeing some amazing wildlife.
The Weymouth and Dorchester area covers a fair distance of coastline so to make it more manageable we have split the South West Coast Path into three sections:
From Abbotsbury head slightly inland through woods and fields until returning down to the shores of the Fleet Lagoon to Ferry Bridge. The views of Chesil Beach and the Fleet are truly unique on this walk. Eventually you reach the edge of Weymouth and Ferry Bridge, which marks the spot where you choose to cross the causeway to to the rugged Isle of Portland or walk through Weymouth town
This section is all about dramatic cliffs, secret coves and stunning views. The Isle of Portland is a massive lump of limestone linked to the mainland by the shingle of Chesil Beach. Follow the pebble ridge of Chesil Beach, to join the Coast Path as it climbs to the top of the cliff providing stunning views. Then a fairly easy walk circling Portland along old quarry tracks, with some short, steep climbs. Take your time to take in the panoramic views from Portland Bill across the English Channel before walking back to Ferry Bridge.
You leave the rugged rocks of Portland and follow Portland Harbour into the resort of Weymouth is easy flat walking, followed by quiet rural paths as you head to Ringstead Bay.
Wessex Ridgeway: 16.5 mile section from Folly to Lower Kingcombe
Begin at the Wessex Ridgeway Farm Walks then pass the famous Cerne Abbas Giant and the village’s medieval houses and the abbey ruins and then onto the quaint village of Sydling St Nicholas. Then back onto rolling downland with magnificent views and then to Maiden Newton a large village before following the water meadows to Lower Kingcombe.
The trail is a long distance footpath to celebrate the Rambler’s Association 60th Anniversary in 1995. It runs right across the county of Dorset from Somerset to Hampshire. The trail tends to avoid popular paths and seeks out quiet villages with views of rolling hills and secret valleys.
Hardy Trail: 30 mile section Portesham to Cerne Abbas
Discover Thomas hardy’s Wessex, start at “Pos’ham” from the Trumpet Major, onto “Casterbridge” (Dorchester) that has many buildings associated with Thomas Hardy including Max Gate his home. Then “Mellstock” (Stinsford) where he was christened, “Knapwater House”, “Upper and Lower Mellstock” (Bockhampton) where he was born. “Froom-Everard” (West Stafford) in Tess of the d’Urbervilles and “Kingsbere-sub-Greenhill” (Bere Regis). Athelhall, “Weatherbury” (Puddletown) from Far from the Madding Crowd and then end at “Abbot’s Cernel” (Cerne Abbas).
South Dorset Ridgeway: 17 miles West Bexington to Osmington Mills
A little inland but provides panoramic views along the Jurassic Coast and the rolling Dorset countryside. Being easier walking than following the coast path apart from the steep climbs at either end. Called ceremonial landscape due to rare Neolithic earthworks from 3600 BC and the many Bronze Age burial mounds. It is considered to be on an archaeological par with Stonehenge and Avebury. You pass Abbotsbury, Maiden Castle and Chalbury Iron Age hill forts and the Osmington White Horse.
Cerne Valley Trail: 26 mile circular route
The trail follows the course of the river, from its source in the basin formed by the hills of High Stoy and Dogbury to its confluence with the Frome, in the water meadows below Charminster. Taking in the villages and hamlets of Minterne Magna,Cerne Abbas, Nether Cerne, Godmanstone, Forston and Charminster.
Frome Valley Trail: 16 mile Evershot to Dorchester
Evershot is the second highest village in Dorset at about 700ft. Walk chalk downland from here, across rolling farmland. At Chilfrome link with the Wessex Ridgeway and as you approach Maiden Newton you notice a change in the farming. There are the remains of a 200 year old water meadows system. Then enter the village of Maiden Newton and follow the riverbank, the chalk stream is a unique habitat, otter and water vole are common along the Frome, making it a river of national importance. Near Southover, remains of a Roman Villa were found at Nunnery Mead, a Dorset Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve. To the west of the trail, a 9 km aqueduct carried water to Durnovaria (Roman Dorchester) and enter Dorchester.
To assist with those who just want a short walk to enjoy the surrounding area we have selected some of our favourite routes:
Cerne Abbas: 2.5 miles around Cerne Abbas
Hardy’s High Road: 6.5 miles from Broadmayne
Barrow Circle: 5.5 miles from Martinstown
Stones and Circles: 7 miles from Portesham
Thomas Hardy’s Cottage: 7 miles from Dorchester
Dorchester to Weymouth: 10 miles
Radipole Lake: 0.75 mile or 1.2 mile nature trails
Rodwell Trail: 2 miles along Weymouth’s old railway line
Littlemoor: 3 walks around Littlemoor in Weymouth
Portland Quarry Trails: 3 walks on the Isle of Portland
For additional strolls and walks simply visit these great websites to enhance your exploration and you will be able to plan additional routes for your stay in Dorset:
For a list of Cottages in the Weymouth/Dorchester area CLICK HERE
Please note: Dorset Coastal Cottages cannot be responsible for the content of external websites.