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7 wonderful walks in Dorset that are even better in the winter

PUBLISHED: 14:42 29 November 2018 | UPDATED: 11:36 30 November 2018

A dramatic winter sunset over Dorset. Photo credit: Andrew Martin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

A dramatic winter sunset over Dorset. Photo credit: Andrew Martin / Getty Images/iStockphoto

Andrew Martin 2009

Here are some Dorset walks, easy and challenging, to get you out and about over the festive period

Cheselbourne and the Dorset Gap

Situated just north-east of Dorchester this rural ramble offers delightful views in winter, as you roam through peaceful fields and woodland. This walk takes in a short section of the Wessex Ridgeway. As well as gorgeous countryside vistas, you’ll also have the chance to visit the delightful little Lyscombe Chapel, part of which dates from the 12th century.

As you walk along the Wessex Ridgeway, crossing over the Dorset Gap, you are following an ancient route used for nearly a thousand years as this important crossing of tracks has been used since medieval times.

Distance: 11.2 miles

Walking time: 5 hours 30 minutes

Difficulty: Moderate

Starting from: Cheselbourne, lay-by opposite Hillview Cottages

Weymouth Library to RSPB Radipole

This easy mile-long stroll starts from Weymouth Library and takes in the marina and swannery on the way to RSPB Radipole Lake, where you can stop for a coffee before picking up a map to see what wildlife you can spot around the lake and reed beds.

Walking time: 25 minutes

Link to route map: bit.ly/2ESH0Bn

Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and the Jurassic Coast

Looking for a hilly walk along the coast to burn off that extra helping of Christmas pudding? This is the perfect Boxing Day ramnle to blow away the cobwebs, and it rewards your efforts with some spectacular views along the Jurassic Coast.

Going up onto the downs you follow a long ridge before returning along the Jurassic Coast via the spectacular rock arch of Durdle Door, one of Dorset’s most iconic geological features, continuing on to Lulworth Cove – probably the second most famous feature of this coastline, before a final climb over Bindon Hill.

Distance: 7.6 miles

Walking time: 3 hours 45 minutes

Difficulty: Strenuous

Starting from: Lulworth Cove YHA, BH20 5SA

Seaviews on the Rodwell Trail

This 1.6 mile walk starts from Wyke Regis Health Centre and runs along the Rodwell Trail - a former railway line between Weymouth and Portsmouth. Enjoy some lovely sea views and explore Sandsfoot Castle and its gardens.

Walking time: 46 minutes

Link to route map: bit.ly/2DchoOb

Stephen’s Castle Nature Reserve

Need a quick blast of fresh air? Then escape the festive mayhem for a while with this easy stroll with plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting. The route takes you through Stephen’s Castle, a heathland nature reserve on the edge of Verwood, home to many rare plants and animals. Keep a look out for Dartford warblers along the way and in the summer you can sometimes spot sand lizards and smooth snakes basking in the sun. The ‘castle’ is an Iron Age barrow at the top of an old sand and gravel quarry.

Distance: 1.2 miles

Walking time: 40 minutes

Difficulty: Easy

Starting from: The Hub, Brockway, BH31 7QE

Stour Wildlife Circuit

A mainly flat, riverside route (1.8 miles) from Old Bridge Road, Iford (eastern Bournemouth), including an out and back section along the Stour Valley Way, with the opportunity to see a variety of water birds.

Walking time: 52 minutes

Link to route map: bit.ly/2zigScS

Leigh Common Woodland Nature Reserve

Just off the busy main road, this 1.6 mile route along the paths and board-walk stroll through this nature reserve. Starts from Leigh Park Community Centre.

Walking time: 46 minutes

Link to route map: bit.ly/2zdpeT8

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