Wander along a walk in Dorset
So it’s the New Year and we’ve all overindulged over the Christmas period. Those jeans we love that were a little bit roomy a few months ago now barely do up, and all of that booze over New Year's has just about finished us all off. What we need is some fresh air and exercise, and Dorset thankfully has scenic walking spots in abundance. Wrap up warm, bundle the kids and dogs into the back of the car and head down to any of these places on New Year's Day to brush off the cobwebs.
This little seaside town along the Jurassic Coast is a wonderful destination at any time of the year, but a brisk stroll along the seafront is particularly refreshing on New Year’s Day. There is ample parking, either at the big car park as you come into the town on the right hand side just before the sea front, or there is seafront road parking as well. If you’re feeling particularly energetic, you can walk through the town and follow the path up to the hill adjacent to the pier. You can then walk the coastal path all the way along to Durlston Country Park. You will be rewarded with absolutely stunning views the entire way along your walk.
A personal favourite of mine, Kimmeridge sits further along the Jurassic Coast from Swanage, just a mere few miles from the turn off at Corfe Castle and under five miles from Wareham. As you round the final corner towards the coast, you will be greeted with, in my opinion, the most incredible view in the whole of Dorset. As you follow the winding road down, you will come to a large parking area at the top of the cliff and the incredibly prehistoric looking stretch of rocky outcrop will open out before you. You can walk for miles, following the jagged rocky shoreline, or simply sit and reflect on your desires for the new year whilst gazing out at the crashing waves. There is nowhere to get snacks or hot drinks here, so make sure you bring your thermos of coffee and some sandwiches. To keep the kids entertained, this spot is particularly good for fossil hunting.
Known as the Golden Gateway to the Jurassic Coast, West Bay is situated just a few miles south of Bridport. The wonderful sandy beaches that make up this area offer a much gentler walking route than Kimmeridge, if you fancy more of a leisurely stroll to take in the sea air. Bridport is only a 20 minute walk away and lies within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. West Bay also boasts the Riverside Restaurant, which has been voted by The Observer as one of its top ten seafood restaurants, if that walk along the beach makes you feel a bit peckish.
Slightly more commercial than its other South Coast counterparts, Weymouth has a wealth of shops, restaurants, arcades, and of course, a wonderful seafront along which to walk. A particularly nice area of Weymouth is Sandsfoot Gardens, in which you can discover the ruin of Sandsfoot Castle - one of Henry VIII's Device Forts which was built around 1541 opposite its contemporary Portland Castle. The views here of the bay are stunning and a little cafe at the top of the gardens serves hot drinks and snacks.
The West Dorset coastal town, made famous by writers Jane Austen and John Fowles, and paleontologist Mary Anning, is nicknamed ‘the Pearl of Dorset.’ The harbour offers a lovely walk, with the chance to stroll along the Cobb, featured in Jane Austen’s novel ‘Persuasion’. The cobb features perhaps the smallest aquarium in Dorset and it is worth popping in to take a look. The town is particularly noted for its fossils, which litter the beaches in abundance. Many of the earliest discoveries of dinosaur were made around Lyme Regis, notably those discovered by Mary Anning. Follow in her footsteps as you take in the fresh air and wander along the beach. Who knows, you might be the next to make a significant discovery of a dinosaur.