Dorset was my home county in my teen and early adult years, where I grew up and went to school, so it will always feel like home to me. And so perhaps I'm a little biased, but I truly believe that it's one of the most stunning and wild parts of the UK, and well worth visiting. In the first part of these articles I showed you three of my favourite walking routes in Dorset, and following will be a second trio, with a final three to follow in part three about the chalk giant in Dorset and more. If you can't tell, I really love spending time outdoors in Dorset, and after reading these articles, you should as well!
This walk is in the Godlingston Heath Nature Reserve, which is a National Trust owned piece of land, and one of only 35 specially protected areas of natural beauty in the UK - known as 'spotlight reserves'. There are six species of reptiles in the UK, and they can all be found here, and there is a crazy mix of habitats, with sand dunes, peat bogs, forests, beaches and lagoons. This walk starts at the Middle Beach at Studland, and then goes across the heath, past Agglestone Rock and comes back to the starting point in the beach carpark.
Agglestone Rock is the highlight of this walk, in two ways. Firstly, the rock itself is a mystery yet to be uncovered. The 400 tonne piece of sandstone sits in the middle of the plain on a piece of raised ground, with locals saying that the Devil threw it from the nearby rock formation in the sea called the needles. It looks entirely out of place, and although it has been worn down by whistling, stinging sea winds, it's still a very impressive piece of geology. The second part of the interest of the rock is that from this spot, views out over Studland Bay and Poole Harbour are fantastic, and you can really get a sense of the whole area from this 300m high raised hill. The entire walk is just over five km, so is a relatively challenging walk, but perfectly manageable.
At almost 1400 acres of open space, the Arne Nature Reserve is a beautiful example of natural and wildlife conservation in the UK. This walk begins at the car park of the reserve, where visitors can find an informative centre that shows a great deal of information about the conservation project, the wildlife and natural formations and more. The walk is not a defined path as such, but the reserve is very clearly marked, and the paths criss cross over the different areas, but are easy to navigate and find your way. The reserve is known for its water and wading birds, as well as being a good place to see ospreys hunting in the warmer months.
Located near to the beautiful Corfe Castle, the Blue Poole in Dorset is something of a hidden gem, as I only came across it because a friend who had visited told me about it. It's easy to live in the area for a long time and not know about it at all. The walk is essentially a circumference walk around this lake, at around three km.
My favourite thing about the lake is the colour - on a bright calm day when there hasn't been any rain or wind, the lake is crystal clear and blue, and then on rainy and windy days it changes its character completely and looks green and stormy. Walkers can often see timid Silka deer, as well as rabbits and badgers. This is a lush and cosy little ecosystem that typifies the natural beauty that Dorset offers.
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