Experience the magic of Dorset's winter scenery
Dorset footpaths and walking trails are open all year round, and they’re much quieter during the winter months.
Pull on your walking boots, grab your hat, scarf and gloves, and discover just how glorious a Dorset winter can be.
Burton Bradstock Circular Walk
It starts from the National Trust car park at Burton Bradstock. This has the benefit of being right beside the popular Hive Beach Cafe where you can grab a snack and drink after – or before – your walk.
Head west along the South West Coast Path, in the direction of West Bay. The path takes you up a slope and you’ll soon find yourself at the top of Burton Bradstock’s iconic cliffs.
On a clear, crisp day the views are spectacular. Looking further west you can see the highest point on the south coast of England, Golden Cap. The coast curves away to the west, where keen eyes (or binoculars) might just spot Lyme Regis, where Dorset ends, and Devon begins.
Looking east you’ll see the long pebble bank of Chesil Beach, stretching all the way to the Isle of Portland.
Follow the coast path until you reach a stile on your right. This takes you onto a path away from the cliffs and into the village of Burton Bradstock.
At the bottom of the field, another stile takes you into a lane. Follow this to the right and you’re on the edge of the village of Burton Bradstock. The lane connects to Cliff Road, which you cross, then go up some steps and over another stile.
The path now takes you diagonally across a large field. Follow it and you’ll soon connect with the early section of the path you set out on. Now it’s back down to the car park and perhaps that very welcome drink in the cafe.
Corfe Castle Circular Walk
It begins in The Square of Corfe Castle village, near the entrance to the historic castle ruin.
Start by walking along West Street, with your back to the castle. Following this you’ll see a turning on the right, to the West Street car park. Follow this, cross the car park, and just before you reach the football club, go through a kissing gate onto the path along the edge of a field.
After a short distance you’ll reach a small humpback bridge, known as Copper Bridge.
Don’t cross the bridge, but turn left and follow the path up the slope. Turn right at a cattle grid to join a small road – now you’re back on West Street. Stay with the road as it dips down and rises up again.
At the top, come off the road to the left, following a path along the ridge. As you walk, take in the views of the castle. This area of common land is covered with the low humps of ancient burial mounds.
Now turn left again at the end of the ridge, heading downhill. Follow the path until it reaches the houses, in the area of Halves Cottages. You’ll then see signs that take you back along footpaths to where you began, near the castle.
Weymouth Harbour and the Nothe Circular Walk
This is a town-based walk of just over a mile, around the south side of Weymouth’s historic harbour. You’ll find plenty of shops and cafes to distract you along the way, so it may take longer than the hour or so we’ve timed it at.
You can join it at any point along the route. We’ll begin at the town bridge, the historic connection between old Weymouth to the south and Melcombe Regis to the north.
Follow the harbourside east, towards the harbour entrance. This is the ancient quayside of Weymouth, still busy with fishing vessels and pleasure craft.
Continue along the quayside, past the RNLI shop, until the footpath takes you to the right and to the base of steps up to the Nothe. Take these and turn left at the top, towards Nothe Fort.
If you’d like an interesting diversion, don’t go up these, but follow the path until it reaches the Stone Pier. This offers wonderful views of the town and the coast, but can be very cold on a windy winter’s day.
Coming back from the pier you’ll find other flights of steps, to your left, going up onto the Nothe. Take these and you’ll rejoin the path near the fort.
Pass in front of the fort – built in the 1860s and now a popular tourist attraction – and follow the path down to the sea on the other side of the Nothe. You can now see the massive walls of Portland Harbour, one of the world’s largest man-made havens for ships.
Continue along the path by the waterline. This is Newton’s Cove, great for rock pooling at low tide.
Before the footbridge, go down the steps and under the bridge. Walk towards the tall red brick chimney of Brewers Quay. At the roundabout, walk along Newberry Gardens and at the top, continue straight onto Herbert Place. Follow this round to the left until you reach Hartlebury Terrace on the right.
This leads to one of Weymouth’s secret places – a narrow footpath overlooking the town and harbour. Enjoy the views from the terrace. At the end, you’ll find steps down to the entrance of Holy Trinity church and the town bridge, where the walk began.