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20 wonderful walks near you

Walks by the sea, walks by rivers and walks in the countryside in beautiful Somerset and Dorset

We’ve kept things relatively easy and lock-down friendly in length (though there are a couple of more challenging walks in there, too), which makes this round-up perfect for families wanting to enjoy a little socially-distanced stroll.

SOMERSET

Ebbor Gorge, nr Cheddar, moderate, 4m/6.5km

Peaks, crags, circling Peregrine falcons and little white goats seemingly super-glued onto the sheer sides are an impressive sight. The views across the Somerset Levels to Glastonbury Tor aren’t bad either. Get the route.

The Black Mountain, nr Midsummer Norton, easy, 7.5m/12km

Did you know they mined coal in Somerset from the 15th century up right until the 1970s? You can see the conical batch (spoil tip) of the Old Mills Colliery, known around these parts as The Black Mountain, on most sections of this walk. Get the route.

Brean Down, Brean, moderate, 3m/4.8km

This walk takes in the site of a Romano-Celtic temple, an Iron Age hill fort, a the remains of a fort built to prevent Napoleon’s navy from reaching Bristol and Cardiff and at 300ft/92m high, has brilliant views across the Bristol Channel. Get the route.

Babcary Meadows Nature Reserve, Babary, nr Somerton, easy, 2 miles/3.2 km

The best time of year for an walk through a hay meadow filled with wildflowers and butterflies, one of England’s traditionally managed grasslands. Get the route.

Lee Seonghak, Pixabay

Compton Martin & Yeo Valley, moderate, 6m/10km

Follow the path of the river Yeo from its source in the centre of the village of Compton Martin, across the valley and over to Blagdon Lake, which, incidentally, was created back in the 1960s by damming the river. Get the route.

Bishopswood Meadows, nr Chard, moderate, 2m/3.2km

Walk over vale and hill (the Blackdown variety), through the Bishopswood Meadows and Jan Hobbs nature reserves close to the river Yarty, with an extra loop in the Bishopswood reserve if you fancy. Get the route

Chew Magna and Stanton Drew, moderate, 5m/8.5km

Three ancient stone circles (at 113m/370ft across and with 26 upright stones, The Great Circle is one of the largest in the country) and great views across the Chew Valley and over to the Mendips. Get the route.

Kilve & East Quantoxhead, north Somerset, easy, 3m/5km

You might spot 200million year old ammonites on this walk along Somerset’s Jurassic coast. Get the route.

Landsdown trail, moderate, 5.5m/8.8km

A walk with spectacular views across Bath, Bristol and beyond, passing the historic Beckford’s Tower (an early 19th century neo-classical tower, once home to William Beckford’s massive collections of books, furniture and art), with a loop around the Bath Racecourse. Get the route

Porlock Hills & Culborne Church, challenging, 5.2m/8.4km

Up through the wooded hills high above Porlock, the route passes Ash Farm where Samuel Coleridge wrote Kubla Khan, one of England’s smallest churches Culborne Church and the ruins of Lord Byron’s daughter’s gothic mansion with underground tunnels carved out by Swiss mountaineers.  The walk can be steep in places but has spectacular views through the trees. Get the route.

DORSET

Alan Wright, Pixabay

Portland Bill, Isle of Portland, easy, 3.5m/5.6km

A walk around the southern tip of the Isle of Portland, overlooking the ship-wrecking waters of the Portland race. Expect remnants of old quays, quarries and three previous lighthouse towers as well as the current red and white landmark, limestone cliffs, flower-filled grasslands and Chesil Beach beyond. Get the route.

Sturminster Newton Walkabout, easy, 5.5m/8.3km

A stroll around neighbouring hamlets in the Blackmore Vale, partly along disused railway lines known as the North Dorset Trailway, with views of Hambledon Hill where there was once an Iron Age fort. Get the route.

Canford Heath, nr Poole, varied, endless walks and trails

850 acres of heathland to wander around with views across to Corfe Castle and the Purbecks. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, special protected conservation area, with masses of wildlife including a rare smooth snake, sand lizard and Dartford warbler, so you must stay on the paths, some of which are more challenging. Get the route

Melbury Beacon, moderate, 2.3m/3.7km

Expect wild flowers, loads of butterfiles spectacular views over the Blackmore Vale, Vale of Wardour and Shaftesbury. Get the route.

Hengistbury Head, Bournemouth, easy to moderate, 3.7m/6km

Walk up to the top of Hengistbury Head, from where you can see the Isle of Wight, Christchurch Harbour, the Purbeck Hills, Bournemouth pier and beach, before descending to Mudeford Sand spit. Get the route.

The Valley of the Stones, nr Little Bredy, easy, 3m/5km

A walk through a nature reserve strewn with ancient sarsen stones, boulders which fell from the South Dorset Ridgeway during the last Ice Age. Get the route.

Smugglers’ Inn, Osmington and Osmington Mills, easy, 2.6m/4.2km

Look out for Bronze Age burial mounds and a red-brick World War II pillbox along this walk, part of which is along the South Dorset Ridgeway with stunning views of the Jurassic Coast in one direction and undulating Dorset countryside in the other. Get the route.

Pexels, Pixabay

Pamphill and Wimborne, easy, 4.9m/7.9km

This walk starts in the historic streets of Wimborne and takes you along the route of the River Stour and around the village of Pamphill. Get the route

West Bay and Burton Bradstock, nr Bridport, easy, 5.3m/8.6km

Through the golf course to Burton Bradstock and back along the coast, with views across to Devon from the top of the cliffs. Get the route.

St Aldhelm’s Chapel, St Aldhelm’s Head, nr Worth Matravers, easy, 2.8m/4.5km

Views of white limestone cliffs, stone quarries, the 13th century St Aldhelm’s Chapel, a coastal lookout overlooking the notorious St Alban’s Race and Chapman’s Pool on this one. Get the route.

Golden Cap, nr Bridport, easy, 1.4m/2.2km

Park in Langdon Hill car park and take an easy walk up through the woods up to spectacular views across the countryside and Jurassic coast coastline from the top of Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast. Get the route.

Photo Ann Dix

If you’ve any favourite walks to add, let us know below.

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