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The best woodland and forest walks in Dorset

Dorset is a county of stunning natural beauty, full of breath-taking landscapes to explore. From the dramatic Jurassic Coast to the rolling hills of the countryside and acres of woodlands, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the best woodland and forest walks in Dorset, focussing on easy and accessible routes which can be enjoyed by all the family. These wonderful trails provide the perfect opportunity to connect with nature and get active in beautiful surroundings.

So what are you waiting for? Grab your walking shoes and let’s go!

Forest and woodland walks in Dorset

1.      Wareham Forest

A perfect place to explore the beautiful heaths and woods of the Dorset countryside. With miles of tracks to discover unique flora and fauna, you may even spot some Sika deer and rare Woodlarks along the way!

There are several trails to choose from in Wareham Forest. One of the easiest and most popular routes is the Woodlark Trail, a 2 mile circular walk which starts and finishes at the Sika Trail car park. Explore Wareham Forest.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes (on a lead)

2.      Moors Valley Country Park and Forest

Moors Valley Country Park and Forest is a family-friendly destination that has something for everyone, including a cafe, toilets, play areas, railway, golf course and more. But if you want to escape the crowds and enjoy some tranquillity, you can also explore the 1000 acres of forest that surround the park.

A simple route to try is the Look Out Walk. This meandering 1.5 mile trail guides you through the forest, offering beautiful views and idyllic picnic spots along the way. Discover Moors Valley Country Park and Forest.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes

3.      Puddletown Forest

Puddletown Forest on the outskirts of Dorchester is a popular place for walkers, cyclists and nature lovers. Spanning more than 740 acres, it has a mix of coniferous and broad leaf trees, and is home to rare insects, ground nesting birds and native reptiles including sand lizards and smooth snakes.

There are several trails to try, with the easiest ones following well maintained, clearly marked bridleways, offering stunning views along the way. Visit Puddletown Forest.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes

4.      Cannon Hill Woods

Cannon Hill Woods is part of the Uddens and Cannon Hill woodlands in Wimborne. With its vast 700 acres of conifer plantation and broad leaf trees, this scenic area is a must for walkers looking to get out and about in nature.

The Castleman Trailway runs almost the entire length of the woods and provides a safe, flat gravel track suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. Explore Cannon Hill Woods.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes

5.      Durlston Country Park

Durlston Country Park is a 320-acre nature reserve that overlooks the sea near Swanage and features both woodland and coastal routes. The popular Woodland Trail is just under a mile in length and takes in the wildflower-filled Long Meadow, the tranquil glades of the woodland and views of Durlston Bay along the way. Discover Durlston Country Park.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes
  • Dog friendly: Yes (on a lead)

6.      Thorncombe Wood

Thorncombe Wood is a 26 hectare mixed woodland and heath site, home to a diverse selection of trees including mature oaks, beech and sweet chestnut. You can even step back in time and follow the course of the ancient Roman Road.

One of the easiest set trails to follow is the 0.9 mile-long Walkabout 1, which takes you around the main attractions of the wood, including Thomas Hardy’s Cottage, the Roman Road, Black Heath and the Visitor Centre. Visit Thorncombe Wood.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes

7.      Delph Woods

Located near Wimborne, this 24 acre mixed woodland features beech, birch and holly trees, along with a 200 year old common oak standing approximately 80 feet tall. Wander alongside the woodland pond which provides a drinking spot for animals like foxes and Roe deer. Explore Delph Woods.

Take the 1.5 mile trail through the woods and across gentle, shallow streams. The grassy area opposite the cricket ground is an idyllic spot for a picnic.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes (on a lead)

8.      Moreton Plantation

Moreton Forest is a coniferous woodland located to the west of Dorchester, offering tranquil trails among beautiful flora and fauna. Look out for wildlife including nightjars, woodlarks and Dartford warblers, as well as dragonflies and damselflies in summer.

Follow the 1 Moreton to Clouds Hill section of the Lawrence of Arabia Trail, experiencing all that nature has to offer along the way. Discover Moreton Plantation.

  • Wheelchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Pushchair friendly: Yes (some sections)
  • Dog friendly: Yes (on a lead)


Final thoughts

Not only is walking an enjoyable pastime, it’s also a very effective form of exercise that boosts physical and mental health, while helping to support your overall wellbeing.

Wherever you are in the wonderful county of Dorset, you’ll never have to travel too far to find some scenic forest and woodland to explore on foot. You can even use our LiveWell Finder tool to help find local walking groups in your area so you can explore some of our most stunning areas with like-minded people.

To discover more about the health advantages of walking, visit the Get Active section on our website or contact the LiveWell Dorset team. Our friendly, specialist wellness advisors are on hand to offer advice, encouragement, and direction to help you achieve a more healthy, active lifestyle. Register today to find out more.


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