Walking Dorset’s Wessex Ridgeway

Dorset is blessed with a spectacular coastline and beautiful undulating countryside making the area a walkers paradise.  There are several long distance trails, which cross the county, at times following the same route, but each offering something different to the walker. This means that there is a route ideally suited to your requirements and our local knowledge can be invaluable in planning your holiday. Walking the Wessex Ridgeway is one such experience and can include a combination of rural and coastal walks. 

Whichever trail is chosen you may be sure of miles of beautiful countryside unspoilt by the ‘motorway’ experience of some of the country’s more high-profile long distance trails. Prehistoric field systems, Roman forts, medieval settlements and historic villages, dot the landscape.

Over the next few weeks Footscape will be looking at each of the major trails in turn. To come : The Jubilee Trail, The Hardy Way, The Monarch’s Way and the Macmillan Way.

Footscape can provide a detailed trail guide, annotated Ordnance Survey map and accommodation for the Dorset section of these trails- or devise a custom-made itinerary including one or more of the routes. In addition, our ‘Undiscovered Dorset’ trail provides fantastic walking through the heart of the county.  

It is a simple formula: you walk from one place on the trail to the next, staying in a different place each night, with your baggage moved for you, so it is waiting for you when you arrive at your new accommodation. You choose your own dates, subject to availability, whether you wish to walk the whole distance or just part of the trail, as well as the average number of miles to walk each day. We will plan the rest.

 

Dorset’s Wessex Ridgeway

Walking The Wessex Ridgeway through Dorset is to walk the southernmost section of the long-distance trail which starts in Marlborough,  Wiltshire,  an ancient highway which provided an important trading route across the country.

This southern stretch forms a linear walking hike of 71 miles (114 km), which starts just outside the north-eastern edges of the county border, in the Wiltshire village of Ludwell, to the east of Shaftesbury. The trail then  carves a diagonal route across Dorset to its south-western extremity in Lyme Regis.  The route follows a predominately ridge top route across Dorset’s rural heartland, interspersed with small rounded hills, iron age settlements, steep grassland fields, woodland, secluded valleys and fertile lowlands. Each day’s walk is different and steeped in history.

Walking the Wessex Ridgeway is ideal for committed walkers happy to walk for much of the day as there are often longer distances between villages than say our for Undiscovered Dorset route.  With walks of around 12 miles (19 km) a day, this stretch of the Wessex Ridgeway may be walked in 6 days. On this basis you can complete the full trail in 6 days (without any rest days), making a 7 night holiday in total. It is also possible to walk fewer miles each day or to cover only a part of the trail. 

We can, of course, provide an itinerary which covers part of the route- or perhaps allows for an extra last day in Lyme Regis, or even a couple of days walking along the coast path.

Highlights of the Wessex Ridgeway trail include:

  • the rolling countryside of The Cranborne Chase,
  • the steep-sided valleys around the Dorsetshire Gap, marked with strip lynchets, a medieval method of agriculture,
  • the iron age hill forts of Hambledon Hill, Lamberts Castle and Pilsdon Pen
  • the tranquil countryside south of Beaminster where the countryside has remained virtually untouched by the past century
  • Lyme Regis – ‘the pearl of the Jurassic Coast’