The snowdrops are out and the daffodils, following closely behind and as we say in the dog world, Springer Spaniels are in the air. Well they are always bouncing around but you get the picture, spring is definatly in the air, so we have compiled a list of our favourite dog walks in our local area. As West country folk, this area is somewhere we know and love as do our pets. If you know Dorset and Wiltshire, you will understand why we chose to live and work here.
Berry and Holly regualraly do these walks as you can see from the pictures, Berry loves a good waddle.
My absolute favourite – Lulworth Cove is part of the world-famous Jurassic coastline. The walk in its entirety is probably around three miles, and can be a little hilly in places (good for keeping you and your pooch fit!).
The ‘aim’ of the walk is to reach Durdle Door by meandering along the coastline which is absolutely stunning. When you get to Durdle Door, there is a lovely shingle beach which is great for picnics. You will also find people coasteering on the rocks – this is entertaining to watch, especially when your dog tries to go and join in!
You could of course want to head in the other direction and go as far as Tynham Village. We often leave a car here in the car park and drive round to Lulworth. You can then cover the 5/6 miles of extremely steep but stunning coastline with the knowledge that you don't have to walk back again. A head for heights and strong legs are very important on this walk.
Make sure you know what is going on with the local firing Ranges, if the red flags are up then your walk may be restricted.
Located between the villages of Child Okeford and Shroton, Hambledon Hill is an old hillfort that is a good walk for people of all levels of fitness. If you want a less challenging route, then approaching from the Shroton side is easier, as there is a gravel track right to the top. If you park near the Cricket Pitch then you can relax and have a tipple in The Cricketers when you return. The view from the top offers a stunning panorama of the Blackmore Vale and surrounding areas.
Starting in Child Okeford is a much more exciting prospect with steep climbs to the summit that afford amazing views for miles around. This is where Wolfand his troops practised before they stormed the heights of Abraham and took Quebec from the French. Don't forget to come here when it snows, the hillfort crenelations make for excellent toboggan runs.
Situated just on the Wiltshire/Dorset border, Ashmore boasts some fantastic woods for walking through. Dogs are politely requested to stay on the tracks as there is plenty of wildlife to be chased, including my puppy Holly’s favourite – pheasants!
There are a multitude of walks weaving in and around Ashmore – so much so, that I am still discovering new ones after six months of walking here. You can either start at Washer’s Pit (at the bottom of Ashmore), or park in the main village, next to the picturesque village pond and then head down Green Lane or off on one of the byways that all lead towards the woods.
If you are looking for a picturesque walk, this is not to be missed, especially when the Bluebells are out – it is simply stunning. The only downside to the walk is that there is no immediate watering hole to refresh yourself after a long walk!
If you are looking for the best view in Dorset that isn;t on any postcard then this is our favourite. You start as above in Washers pit and head North towards Compton Abbas Airfield, following a track that goes uphill through the woods and pops out next to the A350 (High Road). Cross straight over onto Fontmell Down and head north alongside the road. You essentially follow the ridgeline at the top of the valley towards Wingreen, one of the highest summits in Dorset.
Spreading away to your left is one of the prettiest valleys in England incorporating views of Hambledon Hill, Hod Hill, Okeford Hill and as far away as the hills south of Sherborne.
You can also start by parking off the A350 just past the airfield and head straight up Win Green to look across to Shaftesbury. There is a footpath that leads directly through the airfield, which is important because this is where you can source a delicious cooked breakfast and fresh coffee. The children love this because you can also watch planes tkaing off and landing from a few feet away.
During the summer months, I’m at Studland Bay most weekends. It’s both kid and dog friendly and has one of the finest beaches around!
The National Trust owns most of the area around Studland Bay and dogs are allowed on the beach year-round (although during the summer months they need to be kept on a short lead). It is possible to easily walk from the Sandbanks Chain Ferry to Old Harry’s Rock and beyond to Swanage.
The walk is dominated by soft sand and there is no shortage of dogs to make friends with along the route. The water is extremely shallow and safe for dogs - providing they can swim.
If you continue walking past Knoll Beach, you will come to ‘Pig on the Beach’, where it is possible to stop for some tea or perhaps even an early evening cocktail. When you walk beyond the hotel up on to the cliffs, make sure to keep your dog on a lead as the cliffs are dangerous, as my Oscar discovered a few years ago when he made the national press!