Dorset & Wessex Trails

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Dorset & Wessex Trails information and booking

  • Duration
    8 days
  • Group size
  • Difficulty
    introductory - moderate
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Schedule Details

  • 7 nights hotel/guesthouse/inn


  • Far from the Madding Crowd
  • Walking the Coast and Hills of Dorset
  • Historic Town of Dorchester
  • Natural Wonders of Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

From Lyme Regis to West Lulworth, parts of this walk are as beautiful as it gets in the British Isles. Yet you are in no wilderness area being fairly near attractive villages and towns throughout the journey. This is a walk of great variety, naturally concentrating on the popular Dorset Coast Path. The Dorset coastline is an area of outstanding geological importance as over 200 million years of rocks have been laid down, bent and twisted before being eroded by the sea to expose rock profiles on beaches, accessible to fossil hunters and scientists. So important is this area that it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. However our walk also dips inland to visit a mysterious region of ancient hill forts, Roman and Saxon remains – the ancient kingdom of Wessex. You have a couple of nights in Dorchester, Thomas Hardy’s Casterbridge, with its beautiful museum and essentially Roman form. Here there are walking options within the town, or without, to the beautiful village of Cerne Abbas and out to find Hardy’s cottage in the woods. The tour starts from another town with literary associations: Lyme Regis with its medieval Cobb (harbour wall), which is a favorite place for almost everyone who visits it. John Fowle’s novel “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” is set there and the author lived in the town until his death in 2005. On the walk you also visit Abbotsbury a gem among English villages, while Maiden Castle and the Cerne Giant are spectacular archaeological sites of great importance. The last part of the walk roller coasters along the cliffs above the natural arch formation of Durdle Door and then down to Lulworth Cove – a perfect oval cove protected from the sea by rocky fingerlike peninsulas. The coastal villages can be rather crowded in high summer and are understandably popular, but you will also find many quiet areas whilst walking. The weather is generally warmer and more settled on England’s south coast than in other parts of Britain and some steep paths aside, the grade is on the easier side of our walking holidays in the UK.

What's included

  • 7 breakfasts
  • 7 nights accommodation in small hotels and guesthouses on a twin share basis with ensuite facilities where available.
  • One piece of luggage per person transferred from inn to inn, not exceeding 20kg.
  • Full route notes and map package.
  • Emergency hotline


Day 1 Arrive Lyme Regis
Travel to starting point (Lyme Regis). Explore town and the partially medieval stone (Cobb) harbour. The Lyme Regis museum is a great introduction and insight into the natural history of the area. Accommodation: Our first two nights are spent in the little fishing port of Lyme Regis. Our 4* guesthouse is of a high standard.
Day 2 Lyme Regis 13 km / 8 miles. Walking time: 3.5 hours – 4 hours. Ascent / Descent: 405m
Walk through the famous under-cliff (nature reserve on coast west of town) to Axemouth and Seaton in Devon and return to Lyme by bus (8 miles 3 ½ -4 hours / 405 metres total ascent) or explore coastal cliffs for fossils. Accommodation: As detailed in day 1.
Day 3 Bridport 16 km / 10 miles. Walking time: 5 – 6 hours. Ascent / Descent 835m
“Roller-coaster” footpath along coast over Golden Cap hill 191 m (highest sea cliff in the south of England) to West Bay (10 miles 5-6 hours / 835 m total ascent / descent). Interesting sequence of cliff paths and smugglers’ villages such as Charmouth and Seaton. Accommodation: : Our third night will be spent at West Bay, the harbour of the old market town of Bridport. We use a number of guesthouses.
Day 4 Abbotsbury 16 km / 10 miles. Walking time: 5 hours. Ascent 425m / Descent 365m
Coastal path via a Saxon Hill Fort with magnificent views of Chesil Bank (longest shingle beach in Europe) to Abbotsbury with its medieval tithe barn and swannery, the only one of its kind where swans are bred. There are plenty of sites here, especially we would recommend a stroll up to St. Catherine’s chapel at sunset or dawn. This chapel served as a lighthouse from monastic times and through the destruction of the monasteries as a reference landmark for shipping. (10 miles / 5 hours / 425m total ascent). Accommodation: We use a number of accommodations tonight in Abbotsbury. Abbotsbury itself boasts breathtaking views of rolling meadows and glorious country gardens.
Day 5 to 6 Dorchester 17 km / 10.5 miles. Walking time: 5 hours. Ascent 485m / Descent 453m
Inland via Dorset Ridgeway path to Maiden Castle, a massive ancient earthwork fortress sacked by the Romans in the 1st century A.D. and Dorchester (10.5 miles 5 hours / 485 metres total ascent). Maiden castle is the greatest Iron Age fort complex in the UK and takes almost an hour to walk round. Find the remains of the Roman temple, and look at the formidable ramparts. The Romans established Dorchester on the plain below the fort, and the existing town still exhibits a plan set within the lines of the Roman design that was not broken until the coming of the railways in the 1840s. There is also a Roman house you can visit. Accommodation: In Dorchester we use a large, early 19th century town house that has been converted into a 4* guest house, offering spacious rooms and great comfort right in the heart of this busy town, just a few minutes away from the museum and bus stops. Great breakfasts and a friendly service prevail.
Day 7 West Lulworth 14 km / 9 miles. Walking time: 4 - 5 hours
While your baggage goes direct from Dorchester to West Lulworth, you return by bus or by train to the coast at the lively resort of Weymouth, take a local bus to Bowleaze and then follow the Dorset Coast Path eastwards along the brilliant white chalk cliffs from Weymouth to Lulworth Cove (8.5 miles / total ascent 750 metres.). On the way you pass the natural arches of Bats Head and Durdle Door and the long abandoned medieval village of Ringstead. This is another roller coaster day, but you can bypass the hilliest sections with a more inland route. Lulworth Cove is a beautiful spot, albeit a busy tourist honeypot. However most visitors do not stay the night and you could get up before breakfast to have the cove all to yourself or return to Durdle Door in the evening for beautiful sunsets! Accommodation: Your accommodation tonight is a 4* B&B and is situated in the picturesque village of Lulworth.
Day 8 End of tour
When/if you can tear yourself away from the scenic wonders of Lulworth and Stair Hole you will need either to take the bus or order a taxi from West Lulworth to Wool train station for your journey back to London (taxi approx £15).