Coastal Walks in Dorset

Coastal Walks in Dorset

Stretching for nearly one hundred miles, the magical Dorset coastline is a vision of beauty. Home to the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coastline and an array of jaw-dropping natural wonders, it promises untold adventure for wonderers and wanderers alike.

From long-distance trails like The Hardy Way to short and sweet ambles, Dorset’s coastline caters to everyone. Affording some of the most incredible seascapes imaginable, it provides unrivalled opportunities to soak up the scenery and the fresh sea air. So that you can put your best boot forward, we’ve collated a list of some of the top coastal walks in Dorset for you to savour during the balmy haze of summer and the crisp blue skies of winter.

Lyme Regis to Charmouth

A view of Lyme Regis town in Dorset with boats moored in calm water in the foreground

Relax into the rhythm of steady footfall and settle into this beautiful five mile walk from Lyme Regis to Charmouth. Commencing in the renowned fossil hotspot of Lyme Regis and tracing the South West Coast Path east, it covers a variety of terrain and joins two of Dorset’s most famous towns through a series of country and coastal trails. Making it particularly special, this route requires a bit of forward planning in connection with the tides, as the return journey follows West Beach and The Spittles - perfect for fossil hunting along the shore.

To get started, follow the promenade from Lyme Regis past St Michael the Archangel Church and steer your course inland. A relatively new route, this walk features part of a diverted section of the former South West Coast Path and enjoys a pastoral spell through crisscrossing fields and the Timber Hill woods - one of the top places to see spring bluebells in Dorset. Well-signposted along the way, it promises a taste of adventure without being too demanding and offers great amenities in both Lyme Regis and Charmouth.

Once you’ve had time to explore Charmouth, head back towards Lyme Regis along the beach - making sure the tide is ebbing to avoid getting caught out. Extending for about a mile and a half, this stretch of coastline is famed for its connection with palaeontologist Mary Anning and is one of the best places in the country to search for fossils. Tread the rocky shoreline with care and experience the magic of tracing the footsteps of time and the unique experience of finding a fossil of your own - perhaps the next Ichthyosaurus.

A Shortcut to Golden Cap

An aerial view of Golden Cap in Dorset traced by the rolling line of the South West Coast Path

The highest point of the Jurassic Coastline and the south coast of England, the prominent Golden Cap stands at nearly two hundred metres tall and presides over some of the county’s most spectacular scenery. Formed of distinctive yellow sandstone that gives this famous landmark its name, it is a natural magnet for walkers looking to scale its lofty heights and drink in its far-reaching views. Fortunately, there are lots of options for walkers ready to stretch their legs, including rolling linear routes and dreamy circular loops.

One of our favourites, a fantastic shortcut to Golden Cap wends its way for around three miles through the picturesque woodland of Langdon Hill - as beautiful in spring for its proliferation of flowers as autumn for its fiery copper blaze. Park at the National Trust’s Langdon Hill car park and follow the signs for Golden Cap, wandering around the tree-lined hem of the hill. Emerging through the treeline, views of the Jurassic Coast quickly reveal themselves, beckoning walkers with glittering coastal beauty.

Greeting you with a steady incline up onto the top, this route asks you to dig a little deep for a while, but swiftly rewards efforts with spectacular panoramas. From the head of Golden Cap, you can draw out the moment with a picnic or flask of tea and simply admire the scenery for a while. Offering a different perspective of the surrounds, the way back follows the same path, so you can turn on your heels when you’re ready and make a leisurely retreat back to your boutique abode.

Weymouth to Lulworth

The sheltered sea waters of Lulworth Cove in Dorset harbouring moored sailing boats

This spellbinding linear coastal walk in Dorset covers just over eleven miles of trail, navigating past some of the county’s most beautiful beaches and iconic landmarks. Beginning in Weymouth and ending in Lulworth Cove, it takes in large swathes of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is perfect for those looking for a worthy challenge. For wildlife lovers, a pair of binoculars are a great addition, while for photographers, a camera is a must for this walk’s picture-perfect aesthetics.

Lace up your walking boots and pick up the coast path from Weymouth heading east past Furzy Cliff and Bowleaze Cove. Rounding Redcliffe Point, the coastline unravels ahead of you and presents enchanting vistas of golden cliffs and azure seas. Meandering past Ringstead Bay, the coast path eventually leads you to the world-famous Durdle Door with its iconic limestone archway. If the conditions allow and you have the time, a refreshing dip is highly recommended here or at neighbouring Man O’War beach.

Following on from Durdle Door, the final mile delivers you to the breathtaking Lulworth Cove. Part of the Lulworth Estate, Lulworth Cove is one of the UK’s most recognisable locations and adored for its sweeping white cliffs that create a natural shield around a sheltered sea lagoon. Bask in the beauty of its unique geology and go for a swim on clement days to revive in its crystalline waters. A stunning conclusion to a magnificent walk, moments are made to be savoured here.

Kimmeridge Bay and Heaven’s Gate

A view of Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset in atmospheric half light

Kimmeridge Bay on the Isle of Purbeck is home to a well-known village and beach. Lying within a Special Area of Marine Conservation, it features fossil-rich shores and Dorset’s best reef break, making it a popular spot with everyone from fossil hunters to swimmers to surfers. Naturally, it’s also a popular spot for hikers and proposes a number of gorgeous walks along its shale and chalk coast. One of the best coastal walks in Dorset, a particularly lovely circuit loops around Kimmeridge and the coast, showcasing natural and historical highlights along the way.

An ideal walk to complete in a morning or afternoon, the five-mile, circular Kimmeridge Bay and Heaven’s Gate walk starts at the quarry car park above Kimmeridge (or the chargeable Kimmeridge Bay car park, depending on your preference) and directs you over Smedmore Hill for uninterrupted views over verdant fields and glistening seas. Rich in history, human activity dates back over 6,000 years here and while fossils litter the shore, the remains of Mesolithic tools can sometimes be found in land.

Pass through the gate named “Heaven’s Gate” and cast your gaze over the distant Purbeck Hills and Corfe Castle. Following the coast path, walk past Rope Lake Head and Clavell's Hard, before skirting Cuddle and Hen's Cliff. Walk past Clavell Tower (known locally as “the tower that moved”) and head down into Kimmeridge Bay for a chance to paddle your feet in cool water. When you’re ready, venture back in the direction of Kimmeridge village with its pretty streets and thatched cottages and back to the car park.

Worth Matravers to South Haven

The beautiful white sands of South Beach in Studland, Dorset, lapped by turquoise waters

The last leg of the South West Coast Path, the Worth Matravers to South Haven Point walk is a significant route for many. Running for fourteen miles along the coast, it encompasses a huge range of amazing things to see, including the Norman Chapel of St Aldhelm, Anvil Point Lighthouse, Durlston Castle and the chance to see seabirds and dolphins too. A point-to-point walk, there are options for parking at Worth Matravers, Durlston Head, Swanage and Studland, as well as the choice to shorten and extend your walk as you please.

To begin with, get your heart rate pumping with some steep inclines along the cliffs between St Aldhelm’s Head and Durlston Head. With a backdrop of the English Channel and open skies, the views provide soul-stirring inspiration to set the pace. After a while, the terrain starts to descend and even out, levelling in the form of the seafront promenade in Swanage. Stop off for a celebratory ice cream to reward your efforts and push your feet into the soft sand of the beach to take stock and revive before setting off again.

The final stretch sees the coast path course through the grassland and woodland of Studland. The site of the Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve, this area of coast is one of the best in Dorset for wildlife watching. Keep a pair of binoculars at hand and look out for the local flora and fauna, from the tiniest butterflies fluttering above wildflowers to enigmatic porpoises cutting through the waves below. To conclude your journey, find the sculpture at South Haven Point beside the entrance to Poole Harbour overlooking Brownsea Island, marking the end (or start) of the South West Coast Path and your dreamy walk in Dorset.

Feeling inspired to trace coastal trails? Take a look at our luxury cottages in Dorset.

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