Location Guide: Dorset attractions
You can enjoy a mix of this county’s beauty by exploring historic towns and wandering through its beautiful countryside. Dorset is a delightful county. Our snapshot guide includes two lovely walks.
Wander around Wareham
The riverside market town of Wareham has a history going back more than 2,000 years and, until the fourteenth century, it was a busy port. These days Wareham is somewhere to relax, have something to eat, or take a trip along the river.
Dorchester is Dorset’s county town; a typical market town that has five excellent museums and exhibitions. The Dinosaur, Tutankhamun and Teddy Bears museums and the Terracotta Warriors and Mummies exhibitions are all within walking distance of each other.
Famed for the commanding castle that overlooks the village, Corfe Castle is also a picturesque place to take a stroll. There are two main streets, linked at the village square. Around the square is a small collection of shops, tea rooms, pubs and a church. You can enjoy sitting outside one of the cafés, with views of the castle high on the hill above the village, or watch the steam trains on the Swanage Railway as they make their way down from here to the Victorian seaside resort at Swanage. Of course, a visit to the castle ruins is also a must – with fallen walls and secret places, these romantic ruins have 1,000 years of history to share.
Images: Above left: Wareham Forest. Above right: Wareham Quay. (Both images Dorset Council).
WALKING IN DORSET
Dorset is famed for its vast choice of walking routes. We’ve chosen two, to give you a taste of the sort of walks you can enjoy in the county.
Wareham Forest Way
Beautiful views, shady glades, an Iron Age hill fort and lots of wildlife make this a memorable walk. The full walk to Sturminster Marshall is 13 miles but it can be split into two sections – here we’ve outlined the first half, between Wareham and Morden. This is a signposted walk and depending on the direction you choose to walk, you’ll either start or finish at Wareham Quay.
From the quay, go through the quiet roads of the town. Cross Wareham Common and the River Piddle water meadows. The top of Woolsbarrow Hill Fort is a great viewpoint with views of Poole Harbour and its heath slopes are an important wildlife habitat. In spring you may see sand lizards and Dartford warblers. The route takes you through forest into farmland as you reach the village of Morden. You can catch a bus to get back to Wareham.
Lambert’s Castle and Coney’s Castle
You can enjoy valley views on this walk, near Charmouth. The walk takes in the ancient hill forts of Lambert’s Castle and Coney’s Castle. The walk begins at the National Trust car park and heads to the site of the 2,500-year-old castle. The area is rich in wildlife including birds such as treecreepers and yellowhammers. In spring, bluebells carpet the woods.
As you move on from the fort, the views across the Marshwood Vale towards the coast are stunning. After leaving Lambert’s Castle, the Wessex Ridgeway takes you to Coney’s Castle, another ancient fort. You then reach the hamlet of Fishpond Bottom. Pass the tiny church then carry on to Lambert’s Common and eventually back to the car park where you started.