Holiday inspiration & travel tips

Dorset Dog Walking

5 dog friendly walking destinations in Dorset

When you think of Dorset and it’s natural faculties, you are likely to think of the historic rock formations and the sprawling beaches. Dorset’s Jurassic Coast is prominent not for its roaming dinosaurs, but rather for the opportunities for roaming doggies. That said, this long stretch on the English Channel covers 96 miles, so even a T-Rex could quite happily take a walk without running out of space. Dorset is particularly special for dog-walking because, in spite of this expansive coast, there are still a wealth of other outdoor options if you prefer a garden route to a beach-based stroll.

Thorncombe Woods

Thorncombe Woods

The Thorncombe Woods are a mixed woodland area, and if it was suitably inspirational for Dorset-born poet and novelist Thomas Hardy, whose work is known to be drawn from the landscape of his birthplace, then it’s likely to be equally inspirational for you and your four-legged walking companion. Though you are unlikely to need all 26 hectares that it spans, it’s there for your perusal if you’ve got the stamina. From the historic Black Heath which still has part of the old Roman Road in tact, to the Rushy Pond surrounded by local wildlife and greenery, you’ll certainly get your steps in for the day.

Visiting with dogs:

Dogs are welcome at Thorncombe Woods.

Website: Thorncombe Woods

Dorset Council

Address: Dorchester, DT2 8QH


The Fossil Forest

Though Dorset has varied types of natural beauty within its boundaries, there’s no denying that its highest-selling postcard is likely of the iconic Durdle Door – an archway near Lulworth, from land to sea, made from natural limestone. This is just a spot along the Jurassic Coast, though, which is part of The Fossil Forest. Prior to the worldwide drop in sea levels 150 million years ago, great trees grew – and subsequently died, leaving the trunks to deteriorate and grand bowl shapes which remain, making up the The Fossil Forest, now a hot-spot of the region for walkers and history enthusiasts alike.

Visiting with dogs:

Dogs are allowed on the entire South West Coast Path but be sure to look after you and your dog’s Safety, especially near cliff edges.

Website: Jurassic Coast Trust

Jurassic Coast Trust

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle has all the pillars of a great walking destination with pets in tow – a view of the sea and Purbeck, plenty of space to roam, beautiful green surroundings, and the ruins of a historical castle which was partially demolished in 1646 by the Parliamentarians. While visiting historical landmarks isn’t always ideal with dogs, because it often means barred entry for tail-bearing visitors, these ruins are the perfect alternative – they offer a culturally enriching day filled with exercise and activity, without the stress of museum-artifacts to knock over with a wag.

Visiting with dogs:

Dogs are welcome at Corfe Castle but must be kept on a on a short lead.

Website: Corfe Castle

National Trust

Address: The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ


Wareham Forest

Wareham Forest

For a shire county which is so often praised for its beaches, and its cover-image of the Durdle Door, it can sometimes come as a shock to visitors to the region when they see how prolific its forests are. Wareham Forest is testimony to that, which is known for utterly unforgettab;e walks Sika Trail or Woodlark Walk – with plenty to see and plenty to sniff (depending on your species). There were fires in the forest in recent years, and Forestry England is working admirably hard to get everything back in order – but there is still plenty of green space to explore.

Visiting with dogs:

Dogs welcome in Wareham Forest but must be kept on a short lead in some areas of the forest during bird nesting season.

Website: Wareham Forest

Forestry England

Address: Coldharbour, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 7PA


Exbury Gardens

Some destinations suit one of the “walker and dog” duo more than others – while one may be conveniently outside but definitely matching the will of the dog-walker, another may be less enticing for the walker but totally vast and thrilling for the dog. Exbury Gardens is unique because it is a hybrid. There is of course the wide open space spanning 200 acres to walk for dogs, and a Steam Railway for any train-enthusiasts out there (or even just those with a vague interest – though these people will likely leave enthusiasts after a day in Exbury Gardens Steam Railway).

Visiting with dogs:

Dogs are very welcome to visit Exbury Gardens but they must be kept on a short lead.

Website: Exbury Gardens

Exbury Gardens

Address: Exbury, Southampton, SO45 1AZ


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