Walks: The Hardy Way and other Dorset trails

Sturminster Mill on the Stour in Dorset

Sturminster Mill, a working water mill on the river Stour at Sturminster Newton. The mill dates from around the 17th century, it can be visited whilst exploring the North Dorset Trailway - Credit: Julian Elliott Photography/ Getty Images

Looking to escape far from the madding crowd? There are several treasured walking trails that will introduce you to areas of Dorset you may not be so familiar with. The Bridport Green Route is a new (and easy) circular three-mile trail linking the town’s ropemaking heritage and green spaces, look for the waymarked trail, or download by clicking here.

The North Dorset Trailway, made up from section of the old Somerset and Dorset Railway which linked Bristol and Bournemouth, is a broad flat route which runs for 14 miles from Sturminster Newton, home to the famous mill on the Stour, to Spetisbury. It’s suitable for walkers, runners, cyclist, riders and mobility scooters.

CLICK HERE: For 8 Dorset bluebell walks

Thomas Hardy's birthplace at Higher Bockhampton in Dorset

The cottage at Higher Bockhampton where Thomas Hardy was born, now owned by the National Trust this is one of the places you can see on the Hardy Way - Credit: Getty Images/Top Photo Group RF

For Thomas Hardy fans the 212-mile Hardy Way takes you through his Wessex visiting many of the settings for his novels. The waymarked route starts at Higher Bockhampton, where Hardy was born (his cottage is owned by the National Trust), goes through the Piddle and Frome valleys before taking you to Lulworth Cove, Encombe Valley, Corfe Castle, Dorchester and finishing at Stinsford Church where Hardy's heart is buried. Margaret Marande’s excellent book The Hardy Way: A 19th century pilgrimage, breaks the route into shorter sections and gives you the stories behind the various locations.  

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Chapmans Pool can be seen from the South West Coastal Path in Dorset

Chapmans Pool lies just to the west of Worth Matravers along the South West Coastal Path, one of the lesser known beauty spots in Dorset - Credit: ©PeteRowbottom2015/Getty Images

A Coastal Challenge 
Prepare for outstanding views and some seriously strenuous walking when you attempt the 92-mile Dorset section of the South West Coast Path (SWCP). The 630-mile route begins in Minehead Somerset, and finishes in Poole - so take a selfie beside the steel sculpture before the ferry in Sandbanks which marks the end point. The Dorset section of the path takes you along the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along the way you will take iconic geological landmarks like Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Old Harry Rocks, as well as some of the lesser known breath-taking views like Chapmans Pool.

CLICK HERE: To visit Dancing Ledge on the South West Coast Path 

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