Purbeck Hills self guided walking vacation in Dorset, England

Description of Purbeck Hills self guided walking vacation in Dorset, England

A weekend of wonderful walking exploring the best of the magnificent scenery surrounding Swanage, one of Dorset’s favourite resorts. Excellent, award-winning accommodation and fine dining at the two best restaurants in town. The walks on both days are designed as two loops to incorporate the most stunning scenery and the best features of interest while making provision for a pub half-way. This arrangement also provides an option to walk just the morning or afternoon loop.


• expertly-crafted self-guided walks amongst some of England’s most stunning coastal scenery, personally researched by us
• flexible 'loop' routes allow you to walk in the morning or afternoon only on both days, combining the walking with sightseeing, or you can walk all day - the choice is yours
• peace of mind knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched by us and tested so you can be sure you will not get lost! We include a marked-up Ordnance Survey map in your pack with a waterproof map case
• a choice between 3 excellent bed and breakfast establishments, all offering stylish en-suite accommodation and excellent breakfasts, in fact the best you are likely to find anywhere
• dining at our recommend restaurants and good country pubs for lunch - a highlight of your days out!
• the freedom to walk at your own pace, linger as long as you like over lunch, visit places of interest on the way, fully detailed in our meticulous, notes
• comprehensive background commentaries highlighting features of special interest, natural and man-made, to provide an insight into the area’s history, culture and habitats
• an enhanced sense of well-being that a few revitalising days of peace, fresh air, exercise, scenic beauty and close contact with nature gives you, leaving you refreshed, relaxed and restored

What to Expect

Grading of Walks: The routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk between 5 and 9 miles each day on varied terrain for up to 5 hours with a break for lunch.

Accommodation: The guesthouses we use combine all the comforts of a hotel with the personal service of a guesthouse.

The Castleton is an elegant 4-star guesthouse with a gold award situated near the sea and just a short stroll into town. There is a small car park.

A Great Escape holds the position of ‘No 1' on Trip Advisor and has been awarded a Silver Award by the Tourist Board.

Clare House, an elegant 5-star guesthouse in the centre of town with a Gold
Award and award-winning breakfasts.

We highly recommend all the above; you can be assured of a warm welcome at each and very high standards of comfort and service.

Travel Information

By rail: London to Wareham and onward travel by bus or taxi.

By road: total mileage from central London: 130 miles (3 hours).

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Having settled into your comfortable guesthouse we provide you with a fascinating tour of historic Swanage. You'll explore its most attractive features, listening to the sound of seagulls, smelling the salt of the sea, learning about the town’s past and its famous personalities. Having enjoyed a little exercise and the pleasures of this charming Victorian seaside resort, we recommend one of the best restaurants in town for a memorable dinner.
Day 2:Today you'll explore the attractive village of Studland with its lovely bay, sheer-sided pinnacles and arches of Old Harry Rocks. ‘If one wanted to show a foreigner England, perhaps the wisest course would be to take him to the final section of the Purbeck Hills, and stand him on their summit, a few miles to the east of Corfe.’ So wrote E.M. Forster in ‘Howards End’ of Ballard Down. Superb sea vistas abound – over Swanage Bay to the Isle of Wight and to the vast expanse of Poole Harbour. Forster further writes: ‘Seen from the west, the Wight is beautiful beyond all laws of beauty. It is as if a fragment of England floated forward to greet the foreigner – chalk of our chalk, turf of our turf, epitome of what will follow.’ Back to Studland via an ancient church for lunch at The Bankes Arms. Then a complete contrast: extensive, wild heathland with the great Agglestone precariously balanced on a mound, more seascapes, windswept Nine Barrow Down and a splendid ridge walk to Corfe Castle. Take an optional tour of the castle’s romantic and majestic ruins and enjoy tea in the 18th-century tea rooms before returning to Swanage by steam train. (5 or 10 miles)
Day 3:Another stunning walk in the Purbeck Hills, incorporating one of its most attractive stone-clad villages, Worth Matravers, where we have again formed the walk into two loops. These incorporate the best features of the coastal path and countryside surrounding the village. Dramatic seascapes abound on both morning and afternoon loops, providing some of the finest coastal walking in south west England: Dancing Ledge, Seacombe, Chapman’s Pool and Winspit, names known at one time only to stonecutters, fishermen and smugglers. Now, they provide some of the best walking you could find in the country. There is also much of interest on today’s route: great wedges of ancient rock pushing against the sea, cliff-side quarries, a tiny 11th-century chapel at jutting St Adhelm’s Head and a visit to the Coastguard Station where you'll be welcomed to learn about the important job of the coastguards. Then there are many opportunities for spotting bird life and dolphins as you gaze in awe at 200-million-years-worth of geology laid down, contorted and crammed into this area of some 60 square miles. Walking here on the Jurassic Coast you will realise why the whole area has been designated a World Heritage Site. (5 or 9 miles)

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Purbeck Hills self guided walking vacation in Dorset, England


By encouraging walking, the least carbon intensive way to travel, the environmental impact of our walking vacations is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport wherever possible. We provide our clients with details of public transport and generally a number of our clients travel by train. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the immense benefits sustainable tourism can bring to rural destinations and to local economies.

Since this weekend's walking is centred around Swanage, on one day the walking will be entirely along the Jurassic Coast. Here our clients are introduced to the famed geological features of this stretch of coast, to the history of the area, including the stonecutters, fishermen and smugglers and to the wildlife such as the dolphins. On the second day's walking on Studland, walkers will learn about the conservation of the extensive heathland surrounding the Agglestone.

In our small office we recycle as much as possible, in particular paper, cardboard, ink cartridges. We are constantly alert to ways in which we can improve our recycling practices. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens etc. We reduce energy use through our ‘switch it off’ campaigns, turning off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers, and personal gadgets at the end of each day. We further conserve energy by avoiding the use of ‘screen savers’ on our computers. We use only energy-efficient bulbs and opt for low-energy appliances wherever possible. We are meticulous in conserving water and during winter months cut our annual CO2 emissions by maintaining heating thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting, preferring to wear extra layers rather then turn up the thermostat. We discourage the use of disposable plastic bottles in the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies such as Sigg.

It has been our policy for some years now to avoid printing unless it is absolutely necessary. We do not print brochures or other promotional material, preferring instead to keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. PDF’s are available for printing from our website for individuals requiring printed information.


We endeavour to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local economy. In choosing to lunch at local inns such as the Bankes Arms, Studland, we are patronising establishments which employ staff from the local rural community.

We choose to stay at three highly-regarded, award-winning guest houses in Swanage, thus bringing them valuable business with the possibility that some guests may return on a future occasion.

We choose the best walks available which may not always start directly from a railway station. Therefore provision has to be made to transport people to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we employ local minibus and taxi companies. Over the years we bring quite a lot of repeat business to them. Following our walk from Studland to Corfe Castle, we patronise the steam train which returns our clients to Swanage.

Bringing people to a new region, recommending lunches, and sometimes teas, walking the ancient footpaths, visiting the pubs and teaching through carefully researched commentaries something about the area’s rich history, culture and folk law, has the effect of giving people a sense of community with the place. People often return on their own or with friends, visit the same pubs and renew their sense of being at one with the beautiful local countryside.


We provide carefully-researched and crafted walks in the special landscapes of the UK, promoting appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries. These commentaries relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature.

Many of our walks take place in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and visit National Trust properties. We describe the views to be seen from the high points and our walkers always enjoy seeing the distant route they took earlier in the walk. We always explain something of the history of the area we are visiting and introduce into the walks topics of a literary nature such as poems, references to writers associated with an area and examples of the soothing power of nature.

There are usually features of architectural interest and geological interest. For example, we may stop to explain about the chalk downland turf or archeological features such as barrows and earthworks and explain how the land we see today has been shaped by the past. Or we may talk about a National Trail, its history and its significance today. We include references to the economic importance of, for example, chalk, hardwood, coppices.

The countryside of the UK's Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty is an inspiration to all who visit and walk in it and our clients are unfailingly impressed by its beauty.

Reviews of Purbeck Hills self guided walking vacation in Dorset, England

You can trust Responsible Travel reviews because, unlike many other schemes, reviews can ONLY be written by people who we have verified have been on the vacations.

I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
Very enjoyable
It was OK
A bit disappointing really

Reviewed on 23 Sep 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The walk the first day. The directions prepared by the vacation provider were terrific and the selections for the walk was great. It combined great sea views with a walk across the Down.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Ability to choose which of the four walks to take. Each were described well. My advice would be to not overdo it. Choose what you want and leave the others

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

I think so. We took the train down and the bus to where we hiked. We stayed at a great bed and breakfast

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


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