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Seven best coastal walks in Dorset

Dorset's Jurassic Coast offers breathtaking scenery and a wealth of coastal walks to enjoy. From gentle strolls to more challenging hikes, this picturesque county has something for walkers of all abilities. In this article, we’ve handpicked seven of our favourite must-do seaside walks in Dorset, each with their own unique landscapes and wonderful views.

1. Studland Bay and Old Harry Rocks

This easy circular route begins at the sandy beaches of Studland Bay, part of a nature reserve renowned for its rare and varied wildlife. The coastal path leads through grassy dunes before reaching one of Dorset’s most well-known landmarks, Old Harry Rocks. On a clear day, you will be able to see as far as the Isle of Wight.

  • Length: 4 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • LiveWell top tip: Time your walk to coincide with low tide and explore the fascinating rock pools along the beach.

2. Golden Cap

The Golden Cap is a must-visit for anyone wanting to experience the majesty of the Jurassic coast. There are much longer walks available, but this 3-mile course courtesy of the National Trust is a great option which still takes in all the spectacular views. It may be short, but you will still need to tackle a fairly steep terrain to reach the summit (627ft above sea level). We promise it will be worth it though, with vistas stretching as far as Dartmoor on a clear day.

  • Length: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • LiveWell top tip: Wear good quality hiking boots as the Golden Cap involves some steep inclines and declines along the coastal path.

3. West Bay to Lyme Regis

This 6-mile hilly stretch of the South West Coast Path takes you along the breath-taking cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. En route you’ll enjoy views of the incredible Golden Cap and wind your way through charming villages like Charmouth and West Bay, made famous by the TV series Broadchurch.

  • Length: 8 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • LiveWell top tip: This is a popular area for fossil collectors and you’ll often find ammonite fossils lying among the pebbles on the beach after stormy tides.

4. Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove

This classic 5-mile circular walk combines two of Dorset's most photographed natural wonders. You’ll commence your walk from Lulworth Cove before making your way to Dorset’s poster child, Durdle Door, sculpted over millions of years by the relentless power of the sea. You’ll then make your way back to Lulworth Cove, past the wonderfully-named Scratchy Bottom before heading down on to Lulworth Beach – the perfect place to take a dip and cool off after your walk.

  • Length: 5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • LiveWell top tip: Make sure you visit the Visitor Centre at Lulworth village which is packed with info about the Jurassic Coast, including some locally found fossils.

5. West Bexington

The perfect stroll for nature lovers, this easy walk along the Jurassic Coast path takes in Chesil Beach and heads through the West Bexington Nature Reserve. While it is a beautiful spot whatever the season, you’ll really find the reserve come into its own during the autumn months.  Keep an eye out for cetti's warblers, reed warblers, water voles and yellow hammers.

  • Length: 2.5 miles.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • LiveWell top tip: Look out for Bronze Age burial mounds at the top of the hill as well as brown hares and roe deer, which can often be spotted in the fields.

6. Kimmeridge Bay and Swyre Head

This rocky hidden gem features distinctive ledges, rock pools and cliffs which are a geological marvel. The is a marine special area of conservation, with a vast array of wildlife to see on land too. The walk up to Hen Cliff can be a little challenging but en route you’ll see Clavell Tower, an impressive 19th century folly-cum-observatory. As you continue your ascent, you’ll reach Swyre Head which stands 682 feet above sea level.  It is the highest point on the Isle of Purbeck, commanding spectacular views of Dartmoor, the Isle of Wight and the Purbeck Hills.

  • Length:5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • LiveWell top tip: Take a map or download an offline hiking app, as phone signal can be patchy. The path is well way-marked but it helps to have a guide to hand.

7. Corfe Castle to Swanage

This 12.5-mile walk may be the longest on our list, but it is certainly one of the most rewarding! Rich in history, geology and wildlife, the trail follows the Purbeck Way and South West Coast Path, passing Corfe Castle ruins, ancient quarries with dinosaur footprints, St. Aldhelm's Chapel and Dancing Ledge, plus the striking Durlston Country Park. With steep ascents/descents and uneven terrain to contend with, the hike requires stamina and a good pair of walking boots!

  • Length: 12.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Challenging
  • LiveWell top tip: Don’t fancy the long walk back? Take the train! The delightful Swanage steam and diesel passenger trains travel several times a day between Swanage and Corfe Castle.

Final thoughts

The Dorset stretch of coastline is one of the best in the world and we are so lucky to have it right here on our doorstep! Not only will you enjoy some incredible views, you’ll also be giving your physical and mental health a boost too! Grab your walking boots and get ready to Walk this May!

Register with LiveWell Dorset today to find out more.

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