Christmas walks in Dorset

PUBLISHED: 12:23 17 December 2019 | UPDATED: 12:23 17 December 2019

Looking over  Worbarrow Beach on the Jurassic Coast, photo credit: Thomas Faull/Alamy Live News

Looking over Worbarrow Beach on the Jurassic Coast, photo credit: Thomas Faull/Alamy Live News

Credit: Thomas Faull / Alamy Stock Photo

The Festival of Winter Walks is happening over the festive period, and it’s the ideal opportunity to get out and about in the glorious Dorset countryside – and to blow away some of those post-Christmas cobwebs, too…

The demands of modern, everyday life seem to come into sharper focus during the festive season. Staying on top of all the preparations, meeting work deadlines before the holidays, and pressures to be sociable can increase feelings of stress or isolation. Happily, the opportunity for some restorative downtime in the great outdoors, with the chance meet new people - is being offered by Ramblers - Dorset Area, as part of their Festival of Winter Walks. This annual festival, from 20 December to 5 January, invites everyone - whether or not they've walked before - to join, free of charge, hundreds of group walks across Great Britain.

All year round, Ramblers groups in Dorset organise walks designed to showcase the county's stunning scenery, such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) like Golden Cap in the west or Durlston Country Park in the east, the Natural World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast as well as picturesque villages and ancient hamlets which have inspired artists, poets and writers down the ages. The range of walks put on by the seven Ramblers groups covering the county - which include the South Dorset Ramblers and the Dorset Young Walkers - is an ideal way to appreciate the best of rural and coastal walking. And there are walks to suit all abilities.

During the Festival of Winter Walks, Ramblers groups in Dorset will be offering a full programme. One great example from among many will be North Dorset Ramblers' exploration of the Sherborne Stretch on 5 January. This circular, 8.5 mile walk (starts 10am from Culverhays car park near Sainsbury's), takes you through orchards, woods and across fields in a steady up and down route. Heading out of Sherborne to Longburton, you then head west to the hamlet of Lillington, for a splendid view of its old church and restored tythe barn. There will be a stop for a packed lunch before turning north to head back to Sherborne, passing through the grounds of the historic Abbey, which was founded by St. Aldhelm in AD 705, and which for many is still the 'cathedral of Dorset'. There will also be a chance to see the old alms houses in the Abbey Close, as well as the beautiful grounds and buildings of Sherborne School. Estimated return time is 2.45pm.

Ramblers Dorset Area spokesperson Jan Wardell, who will be leading the Sherborne Stretch says: "We're offering the chance to enjoy some wonderful winter landscapes in good company; it's a chance to relax, unwind, and make new friends."

Details of walks happening near you can be found at dorset-ramblers.org.uk.

Worbarrow Beach on the Jurassic Coast, Photo credit: Thomas Faull / Alamy Stock PhotoWorbarrow Beach on the Jurassic Coast, Photo credit: Thomas Faull / Alamy Stock Photo

12 walks of Christmas

20 DECEMBER

TIBBS HOLLOW WALK

Moderate 10 miles taking in Bradford Peverell, Charminster Down, Jackmans Cross and Grimstone Down. Starts 10am from Tibbs Hollow, Frampton, estimated finish 3.30pm. Contact Cynthia 01300 320346

21 DECEMBER

SHORT WALK ON THE SHORTEST DAY

Moderate 5 miles taking in Chilfrome, Cattistock and Wessex Ridgeway with coffee/drinks stop. Meet 10am Walkers Car Park (CP) Maiden Newton, DT2 0AX, estimated finish 12.45pm. Contact Pete and Elizabeth 01305 261803 or 07811 361859

Ramblers association winter walks, photo credit: Paul Davey/SWNS SWNS.comRamblers association winter walks, photo credit: Paul Davey/SWNS SWNS.com

22 DECEMBER

JINGLE BELL WALK

Moderate 10.3 miles covering Broadmayne, Owermoigne, and Hardy Way. Christmas hat optional! Bring a picnic. Starts 10am from Osmington Drove, Broadmayne DT2 8EP. Contact Mike 07976 253221

25 DECEMBER

CHRISTMAS DAY WALK

Moderate 11 miles taking in Middleton Down, Knighton Hill and Roman Road. Woods, steep hills and views. Bring a picnic. Starts 10am from Martin Down National Nature Reserve CP on A354, between Woodyates and Martin Drove End. Estimated finish time 4pm. Contact Anne 01202 824721

28 DECEMBER

HENGISTBURY HEAD WALK

Leisurely 5 miles, led by the New Forest Group Ramblers, starts 10am from Riverlands CP, Wick Lane, Christchurch BH23 1JJ, estimated finish time 12.45pm. Contact Marguerite and Chris 01425 672060/ 07742 716592

29 DECEMBER

WEST PARLEY

Moderate 7 mile walk with East Dorset Ramblers with morning picnic. Meet at Horns Inn BH22 8SS at 10am.

29 DECEMBER

RANGE ROVER

Strenuous 8.7 miles with the South Dorset Ramblers taking in Tyneham, Worbarrow Bay, Mupe Bay, Lulworth and Arish Mell, bring picnic. Meet 10am at Tyneham CP, estimated finish time 2.45pm. Contact Mike 07976 253221

1 JANUARY

NEW YEAR'S DAY WALK

Moderate 10 mile figure-of-eight walk, Half Moon Coppice and Poxwell Manor in the morning and Fryermayne Dairy and West Knighton in the afternoon. Optional pub lunch (order prior to walk). Starts 10am from Black Dog Inn, Broadmayne DT2 8ES, estimated finish time 3.30pm.Contact Bob 01305 776354 or 07747 414440

3 JANUARY

PUB WALK, WEST STAFFORD

Moderate 5 miles across Hardy Country, Thorncombe Wood, Hardy's Cottage and Kingston Maurward. Starts from The Wiseman Pub CP at 10am if staying for lunch, finishes around 12.30pm. Contact Cynthia 01300 320346

2 JANUARY

ABBOTSBURY

Moderate 6.5 miles exploring coast path and area. Meet 10am Abbotsbury Swannery CP. Estimated finish 1.30pm. Contact Jill and Simon 01300 320084

4 JANUARY

WINTER WANDER

Moderate 5 miles around Melbury Park. Start 10am from Evershot - junction of East Hill and The Common DT2 0JY, finish around 12.45pm. Contact Eunice 01305 263574 or 07880 603929

5 JANUARY

COASTAL VIEWS WALK

Moderate 9.5 miles with South Dorset Ramblers over ridge to East Chaldon, Daggers Gate, Coast Path to Ringstead. Starting 10am from Ringstead NT CP (DT2 8NQ), finish around 3.15pm. Contact Elaine 01305 832575 or 07999 825096

JOIN THE RAMBLERS

Anyone can enjoy three free Ramblers group walks before deciding to become a member (£3.05 a month/£2.15 concessionary rate) which then gives you access to 500 walking groups across Great Britain and an extensive online library of walking routes. ramblers.org.uk

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