The best walks in Dorset to see the autumn leaves

A person stands in the distance surrounded by trees adorned with golden and orange leaves

Autumn is a great time of year for a relaxing walk - Credit: Aaron Burden, Unsplash

As the leaves begin to change colour, we reveal the nine best walks around the county to enjoying the new season.

We're beginning to see a change in the weather and landscape which can mean only one thing: autumn is on its way. Hot chocolate, hearty soups, carving a certain orange squash variety, and plenty of other warming activities are on the horizon as the months slip away. Our favourite is to enjoy a walk where you can appreciate the changing season and watch the leaves fall. 

Here are just nine amazing walks through Dorset that will give you ample time to enjoy the sights and colours. Don't forget your camera, you'll want to remember those moments and take them home with you.

Badbury Rings and Park Lane

Length: 6 miles 

Difficulty: Mostly on country lanes and tracks. No stiles.

Badbury Rings Iron Age hill fort, barely two miles from Wimborne Minster, is the atmospheric starting point of this excellent autumn walk. From here, there are fabulous views over Cranborne Chase, with distant horizons including the Isle of Wight and Wiltshire’s Win Green hill at 911 ft.

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Chettle.

Chettle and Tarrant Gunville

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Length: 4 3/4 miles

Difficulty: Quite easy, just a couple of gradual ascents.

The highest spot on this lovely walk is only about 350ft above sea level but it all feels much higher with lashings of fresh air, wide open skies, and long views to woods and forests crowning almost all of the distant hills and ridges. At this time of year the trees are just beginning to find their autumn colour, and there’s a slight chill in the early morning but you’ll probably shed most of your jumpers before you’ve gone far from Chettle. 

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Kingston Lacy Avenue and White Mill

Length: 7 1/2 miles

Difficulty: Level field paths and gentle ascents/descents on good tracks.

This lovely walk may be a trifle longer than usual, but we’re starting by walking the first two miles of the famous Kingston Lacy Estate beech avenue with its glorious autumn shades. We also follow the River Stour between Shapwick village and White Mill where the ‘chequer-board’ stone bridge is said to be the most beautiful in Dorset.

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Between Minterne Parva and Cerne Abbas (Dorset)

Minterne Parva and Wancombe Hill

Length: 6 miles

Difficulty: Fairly strenuous with 748ft of total ascent.

The initial gradual 423ft ascent from Cerne Abbas up the side of Yelcombe Bottom offers excellent views of the rolling chalk downs with yellow patches of harvested oil-seed rape and corn fields. This really is a delightful Dorset walk with some great rewards for the extra effort.

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Oakley Down and Sixpenny Handley

Length: 6 miles

Difficulty: Not too strenuous, with some lane walking. Slow ascent along Ackling Dyke balanced by easy descent.

With the sun low in the sky, this is the perfect time of year to see clearly the low mounds and ridges of ancient barrows dotted around Cranborne Chase. In the first mile, we pass close by a Neolithic long-barrow. As you enjoy this fine walk, immerse yourself in the atmospheric landscape of Cranborne Chase, where our ancestors lived and toiled 3,500 years ago and where the Roman invaders marched nearly 2000 years ago.

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Portland Bill lighthouse

Portland

Length: 6 miles

Difficulty: Easy to War Graves, then fairly strenuous with ascents/descents on minor paths to and from cliff path.

We’re off to explore the stunning north-east coast with its Portland goats, masses of butterflies, and if you’re lucky and the day is warm maybe you’ll see one of the tiny lizards near Rufus Castle. Then we stroll past Portland’s typical stone cottages, which most people don’t even notice on their headlong dash to Portland Bill.

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Pug’s Hole & Meyrick Park

Length: 3 miles

Difficulty: Not strenuous. No stiles.

When the trees are decked out in their glorious autumn colours this is an especially fine ramble. Pug’s Hole Nature Reserve, in a densely wooded valley, is believed to be named after Captain Pug, a local smuggler who hid his ill-gotten gains here. The area was planted with pines around 1816.

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Toller Porcorum

Toller Porcorum and Wynford Wood

Length: 5 1/2 miles

Difficulty: Fairly strenuous with lots of ascents and descents. Several stiles.

Situated in the beautiful River Hooke valley you will find ‘Toller of the Pigs’ better known as Toller Porcorum. It’s a lovely village, so take a few moments to explore before setting off on your walk. This exhilarating walk may be a trifle strenuous, but there’s lots of variety, with long established paths passing by ancient trees and high downs’ fields with magnificent views.

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Upton Heath and Corfe Mullen

Length: 6 miles

Difficulty: Not too strenuous. A few ascents but no stiles.

The Roman Road strides between the Roman port of pre-Poole Hamworthy and Badbury Rings hill fort. We follow it over Upton Heath, once an ancient wild wood, before veering off over the heath to old Corfe Mullen with its myriad stables and paddocks. We pass Cherrett’s Clump wood before strolling alongside Stony Down Plantation’s woodland and over more of delightful Upton Heath.

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