The best Dorset National Trust walks to enjoy in spring

Taken from the cliffs looking down, you can see the distinctive rise of the rocks that have eroded away from the mainland

Old Harry Rocks are just round the bay - Credit: Darren Tennant

Enjoy a day out with one of these gorgeous walks this spring.

The weather is beginning to turn and there is a definite warmth when you step outside. Whilst it was a pretty mild winter, there is nothing better that the prospect of a sunny spring and the chance to get outdoors. Taking a walk in the countryside is extremely good for both our physical and mental health, particularly after the last couple of years where many of us have been staying in doors just that little bit more. 

Dorset is home to an amazing array of National Trust locations, many of which are home to acres of gorgeous parkland and breath-taking views of the Jurassic Coast. The following are just seven of our favourite walks they maintain, with different lengths, difficulties, and type of terrain. So pull on your walking boots, don't forget a coat in case of spring showers, and enjoy the amazing landscape we call home.

A view of Badbury Rings in the spring, the sky is blue and the ridges can be easily distinguished with trees at the top

Badbury Rings in the sun - Credit: Iain A Wanless, Flickr

 

1. Kingston Lacy

Length: 6.1km

Difficulty: Moderate

Kicking us off is a walk that has it all. Flora, fauna, and history are all tied up in this walk that will take you through Badbury Rings and The Oaks. Beginning at Heron Drove car park, you will have chance to appreciate Beech Avenue and the trees that were originally planted in 1835. 

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You'll then begin the steady climb up towards High Wood and the enclosure of the Badbury Rings Iron Age hill fort. If you want a slightly shorter walk, it's possible to cut across the rings and begin your descent. Otherwise, you'll head over the crest of the hill and towards The Oaks, a 14th-century ancient woodland, before making your way back towards the car.

This is a great walk for the whole family as kids will be able to explore the Rings and their history, whilst you enjoy the amazing views. 

Walk details here

2. Spyway

Length: 2.4km

Difficulty: Easy

This is a gentle stroll which brings many rewards. The walk is fairly flat and dogs are permitted so long as they are kept close. You'll begin at the Spyway car park before heading towards the coast, crossing the oldest road in the Purbecks (Priest's Way) as you go. 

Once on the coast, there is also the option to walk down to Dancer's Ledge below which is perfect for a picnic or a swim (if you're brave enough!). Once you've enjoyed the view for a while, the trail turns back inland and along a lovely stretch of countryside. Keep an eye out for the local sika and roe deer as you go. This loop eventually ends up back at the same path to the car park you started on.

We love this walk for its stunning coastal views and abundance of spring flowers. 

Walk details here

A grassy path snakes towards the white cliffs of Old Harry Rocks at low tide.

Old Harry Rocks are even more impressive in the good weather - Credit: Andy Walker, Flickr

3. Old Harry Rocks

Length: 5.6km

Difficulty: Moderate

Old Harry Rocks off of Studland Bay are one of the most iconic sights in Dorset. The unique rock formations are a stunning part of the Jurassic Coast and a favourite haunt of kayakers and paddle boarders. Whilst you can't walk on to the rocks themselves, there is a fantastic walk which takes you right up to them for a bird's eye view. 

This loop starts at the South Beach car park and takes you past the Bankes Arms Inn which we recommend revisiting on your way bank for refreshments in their pub garden. You'll then follow the coast path all the way to Old Harry and further until you reach Ballard Point. 

The path eventually turns inwards through the Glebeland Estate and back to where you started. This walk highlights the wonders of Dorset and shines when the sun is out.

Walk details here

4. Hambledon Hill

Length: 2.4km

Difficulty: Challenging

Hambledon Hill is another iconic spot in Dorset, rising steeply to 190 metres above the Blackmore Vale and the river Stour with fantastic views into the neighbouring counties of Wiltshire and Somerset. An amazing 28 species of butterfly have been recorded here, so keep your eyes peeled.

Be prepared for some steep inclines as you will walk the length of the barrow, beginning at Pine Tree Walk. At the top, you'll be treated to the remnants of a Neolithic Barrow and we recommend stopping to take in the panoramic views from the top. The Neolithic Long barrow was a burial site for a person of great importance and predates the Iron Age hill fort it occupies. 

From here you'll walk in a south along the top of the ramparts towards the south west entrance, before looping back to where you started. Where Old Harry Rocks shows off the coastline, this walk displays the inland beauty of the county and further afield. 

Walk details here

Clear and defined ridges of the iron age fort, covered in grass and small bushes

The Iron Age fort at Hambledon Hill - Credit: Wessex Archaeology, Flickr

5. Langdon Hill

Length: 2.2km

Difficulty: Easy

This lovely circular walk is not far from Golden Cap and is a great stroll for the whole family - including the dog. In spring and summer, Langdon Hill is awash with flowers including bluebells and foxgloves. Keep an eagle eye out for buzzards and ravens soaring overhead too.

You'll start from the car park and keep the wood on your right for the entire walk. Enjoy the Scots pine and larch towering above you as you get lost in the sounds of nature around you. Clearings in the trees every so often offer magnificent views over Chideock and the surrounding West Dorset countryside.

Walk details here

6. Burton Bradstock

Length: 1.8km

Difficulty: Easy

Another easy walk for everyone to enjoy, but with a whole lot to offer. Start at Hive Beach car park, heading along the path to the coast. There are some amazing panoramic views. To the west is Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast, and on a clear day you may see Start Point in Devon. To the east is the stretch of Chesil Beach leading to Portland Bill.

You can also make a small detour into the gorgeous village of Burton Bradstock where you'll find a number of local amenities including the Three Horseshoes pub which is dog friendly. 

This is an idyllic walk with amazing views and much to see, including the beaches where smuggling was rife in the past.

Walk details here

Corfe castle ruins and hills in Dorset, England

Corfe castle ruins and hills in Dorset, England - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

7. The Purbeck Ridgeway

Length: 13.9 - 15.2 km

Difficulty: Moderate

If you're after a full-day challenge, our last walk may be for you. It will take somewhere around five and a half hours to complete and will take you back to Old Harry Rocks and around the coast to Swanage. Be warned, this is a one-way route so you may want to leave a car at the end to take you back to Corfe Castle where you started. Alternatively, trains or the number 40 bus will take you back to Corfe.

Enjoy vistas over Poole Harbour, Swanage and across the bay towards the Isle of Wight. There will be plenty of places to pause and maybe have a picnic, where the view will not disappoint. 

Walk details here