Beautifully varied and wonderfully unspoilt, Dorset's award-winning Jurassic Coast offers 95 miles of idyllic sandy beaches backed by ancient craggy cliffs and meadows carpeted with seasonal wildflowers. In 2001, it gained UNESCO recognition as England's first Natural World Heritage Site charting 185 million years of the earth's history, with rocks and fossils dating to Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous times.
This 5-night Jurassic Coast walk is the perfect introduction to Dorset's wild and beautiful landscape, where the quietly rolling Purbeck Hills stand in stark contrast to the huge falcon patrolled chalk cliffs, and where every climb is rewarded with fantastic sweeping sea views. In the main, your route follows the coast-hugging long-distance South West Coast Path, pitching and swooping from one downland hollow to the next before a gentle descent into Lulworth Cove by way of the panoramic Burning Cliff and the world-famous rock-arch, Durdle Door. The 280-acre Durlston Country Park is a haven for wildlife (including rare red squirrels) and, with over 250 species of birds, is an ornithologist's paradise. On your final stretch of the Jurassic Coast walk, if you're lucky, you may spot bottlenose dolphins and playful seals emerging from the waves beyond Swanage where the procession of sculpted cliffs and towering chalk stacks known as Old Harry Rocks, marks the end of the Jurassic Coast.
As well as outstanding natural beauty, the region is also rich in archaeology with ancient forts and crumbling castles proudly guarding quintessential rural villages tucked into tranquil corners and crammed with traditional sandstone cottages, tempting tearooms and atmospheric old coaching inns serving great local food. The places you'll be staying in are among the best in the region, including a hotel with excellent leisure facilities and within walking distance of the Georgian Esplanade in Weymouth and a lovely 19th century mansion in the centre of historic Swanage. Breakfasts are included everywhere; with so many dining options on your doorstep, we've left other meals up to you.
Varied walking mostly on the South West Coast Path but with sections through open meadows and along country lanes. Some steep, but relatively short, ascents and descents along with some clifftop walking, but a head for height is not necessary.
Arrive in Weymouth and take a taxi (5 mins, payable locally) to your hotel close to the town's splendid Georgian Esplanade. Stroll the amazing sands, visit the bustling 17th century harbour or take a taxi (5 mins) to the 16th century Sandsfoot Castle - one of Henry VIII's Device Forts.
You stay at the Hotel Rembrandt (breakfast included)
Take a short (11 mins) bus transfer to join one of the most scenic sections of the magnificent 630-mile long South West Coast Path. With the dramatic white chalk cliffs as your backdrop, you follow the classic smugglers' route down to picturesque Osmington where the aptly named 13th century Smugglers' Inn does great coffee! A short climb to the top of Burning Cliff is rewarded with the most fabulous views of the fossil-filled Jurassic Coast before continuing on to Durdle Door - one of the most photographed rock arches in the world. Today's final stretch hugs the coast down into gorgeous Lulworth Cove - a great place for lunch, a swim or a journey back through 185 million years of history at the renowned Heritage Centre. A pre-arranged taxi will collect you for the 20-minute journey to Corfe, described as one of the most beautiful villages in England, where you stay overnight.
You stay at Olivers (breakfast included)
Built by William the Conqueror and destroyed by Cromwell's vengeful troops during the Civil War, the dramatic ruins of Corfe Castle - now a National Trust property and the setting for several historical feature films - stand at the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck and its surrounding hills. We've deliberately kept today's walk short to enable you to explore at leisure before setting out on the panoramic ridge high above the village. It's a journey of diverse natural beauty - with Poole Harbour and Bournemouth to your left, the rolling Purbeck Hills to your right and the Isle of Wight clearly visible in the distance - as you follow the pretty Purbeck Way into Swanage, a small Victorian seaside town with a stunning semi-circular bay. You spend two nights at lovely Purbeck House, close to the town centre and just a few minutes' walk from the beach.
You stay at the Purbeck House Hotel (breakfast included)
We strongly recommend a circular walk today to Durlston Country Park, a magnificent 280-acre nature reserve of sea-cliffs, downs, meadows, hedgerows and woods. With 250+ bird species, 500+ moths and 33 species of breeding butterfly, few places in the country have the same ornithological appeal as Durlston and, from March to July, hidden deep in the cliffs are sea birds, swifts and swallows. The recently restored Victorian castle boasts a fully interactive Visitor Centre, restaurant and panoramic roof terrace.
You stay at the Purbeck House Hotel (breakfast included)
Today's magnificent coastal path hugs Swanage Bay as you climb gently out of the town and up to the famous white chalk sea stacks, Old Harry Rocks. As you continue towards the tiny Purbeck village of Studland, you'll pass 'Dragon's Teeth' tank traps and Fort Henry - a concrete observation bunker built in 1943 and used by Churchill, Eisenhower and King George VI to watch the rehearsals for D-Day. From the gorgeous white sands of Studland, it's just a short hop (5 mins) on the chain ferry (payable locally) across to the luxury 4 star Haven Hotel & Spa on the exclusive Sandbanks peninsula. There's an optional bus ride for those wanting to visit neighbouring Poole - a beautiful coastal town whose natural harbour is the second largest in the world.
You stay at the Haven Hotel (breakfast included)
During your holiday you stay at the following hotels. If you'd like to extend your time at any of these or, if you'd like to enhance your stay with an upgraded room, just let us know at the time of booking.
NEARBY:Situated just a few minutes' walk from Weymouth's seafront esplanade, beautiful sandy beach and town centre, the Hotel Rembrandt, part of the Best Western group, offers 78 comfortable rooms with contemporary decor. All rooms offer an ensuite bathroom, tea and coffee-making facilities, 24-hour room service, flat screen TV and fibre Wi-Fi.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:Mortons Manor is a beautiful 16th century Grade 2 Elizabethan manor house hotel and restaurant, located in the heart of Corfe Castle, ideally situated to explore the beautiful nearby Dorset coastline. Mortons Manor has an award-winning restaurant and individually designed rooms. Shops, pubs and restaurants are within 5 minutes’ walk.
NEARBY:Dating back to the 17th century Alford House has previously also served as the grocer's and has now been tastefully refurbished into a B&B where the rooms make a feature of the old stone walls. There is also a sitting room/dining room at the property with a large selection of local maps and guides. The history of Corfe Village is inseparably linked to the castle, whose slighted ruin dominates the surrounding area.
Situated in the postcard pretty, historic village of Corfe in the shadow of the incredible castle ruins is this small, friendly, family run B&B. The guest accommodation was built circa 1833 from the fine grey Purbeck stone you can see throughout the village and has worn many hats in its 180 years of life. It has been a tea room, a grocers and a fine crystal shop amongst other things, but now it is a traveller's treasure in one of the most beautiful places in the country. Rooms are all en suite and are furnished to a high standard.
NEARBY:Occupying the highest point on Swanage High Street, Purbeck House Hotel was constructed in 1875 in the Scottish Baronial style, imitating a feudal castle. The building was the creation of George Burt, a man referred to by Thomas Hardy as 'The King of Swanage', and features some interesting artifacts including: statues from the Royal Exchange (the one destroyed by fire); a tiled floor originally laid in the House of Commons; an arch that once stood in Hyde Park; a balustrade and columns from old Billingsgate Market; granite left over from the Albert Memorial; a richly carved crown thistle and rose from the mediaeval Parliament Buildings (burnt down in 1834) and a gargoyle said to come from Westminster Hall. The hotel is split into two buildings, the original house and the Louisa Lodge, both offering comfortable well appointed rooms.
Room upgrades: Sea View or Sea view with Balcony.
NEARBY:The Haven Hotel is on the very tip of the Sandbanks peninsula at the entrance to Poole Harbour and offers incredible views across the water all the way to the Isle of Wight! Rooms are tastefully furnished and well equipped and the hotel has a fantastic restaurant and bar. It also offers guests free use of the impressive spa facilities which include indoor hydrotherapy pools, sauna and steam room, outdoor heated pool, jacuzzi and a sun lounger area. With sea views and a private entrance onto the beach, you can hear the waves crashing as you recline with a glass of wine.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
NEARBY:Ideally located between Poole and exclusive Sandbanks, with scenic views over the world's second largest natural harbour, the Harbour Heights offers boutique rooms, an award-winning restaurant and stylish cocktail bar. Rooms have a subtle nautical theme and each en-suite room has a spa bath! The Brasserie here serves an impressive seasonal menu and there is also a large, landscaped terrace with panoramic sea views for al fresco dining. Guests of the Harbour Heights Hotel have full use of the spa at sister property, the Haven Hotel.
Room upgrades: Harbour View, Harbour View with Balcony or Harbour View with Juliette Balcony.
Harbour View doubles have views over Poole Harbour. Harbour View doubles with balcony have views and a balcony over Poole Harbour. Harbour view deluxe double with Juliette balcony rooms are more spacious and offer a Juliette balcony overlooking Poole Harbour.
Extra nights: Please contact us for details.
Everyone who goes on a Headwater holiday will be emailed a link to our post-holiday questionnaire where they can give us an honest assessment of all aspects of their holiday - everything from how quickly we answer the phone to how clean the hotels were - plus an overall rating and comments about their holiday.
Any feedback collected is posted to our website, so that people can make an informed decision based on past experiences before heading off on holiday. We don’t edit the reviews, the only thing we do is proofread them and alter any typos, where necessary, to ensure they are easy to read for everyone. All reviews will be published (except in certain extreme circumstances), and a member of the Headwater team will respond to any constructive criticisms/comments under the reviews, at their discretion. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of our holidays, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.
Well organised excellent route notes and descriptions of walks. Difficult to asses full holiday experience due to Covid restrictions in hotels.
This was a tailor made holiday brought about by a cancelled single location stay in Menorca. Our aim was to have a two location stay in UK.
The Morton's House Hotel in Corfe is a very good place to stay. It has been fully refurbished during the C-19 lockdowns and is light, airy and comfortable. The restaurant is expensive but despite that gives good value for money as it is excellent. If your guests don't want to spend that money, the nearby Fox Inn is really good. The castle is only five minutes away and the village attractive. A good stopping off point.
Thank you for your holiday summary, really lovely to read that you had a great stay in Corfe!
Headwater Customer Service
My first organised UK walking holiday after years of similar trips abroad, and was very pleased by my experience in a lovely part of the country. Some spectacular and satisfying walking routes on coastal paths and inland, which could easily be extended for those seeking an extra few miles each day - for example, by walking to the start point outside Weymouth on the first day, which was delightful along the promenade; and extending the suggested circular walk from Swanage to follow the coastal path to Seacombe via Dancing Ledge, returning inland via Worth along the Priest's Way.
Hotels are generally good - Oliver's in Corfe Castle is outstanding - but it wasn't always easy finding somewhere for dinner in most places due to restricted hours and capacity everywhere amid plenty of demand from locals and visitors alike. An extremely friendly reception wherever I went though.
Thank you for your lovely review of our Dorset walking holiday, it is lovely to read you thoroughly enjoyed your first organised UK walking holiday with Headwater. We hope to arrange many more for you.
We loved the holiday but knew where the car parks were as the paths around them were quite crowded, especially at Durdle Door.
The walk could have been called Dorset Coast and Countryside as we seemed to be inland quite a bit but may be more of the cliff walks near eg Kimmeridge wound have also been crowded.
The hotels were an interesting mix but all clean and comfortable with the first three very close to good places to eat. We had a fantastic room at The Haven in Sandbanks but the meals were like airline food. Dinner was very expensive and we felt that some of the waiters and waitresses were bored with their job. We liked Purbeck House the best where we had a wonderful room, breakfast was very good and all the staff charming and helpful.
It was lovely to finally get away for our summer holiday when the sun shone everyday without even leaving the country.
Finally thank you so much for steering us away from this route during September!
Thank you for your review of our Dorset walking holiday. It is lovely to read that you enjoyed your holiday with us despite the UK being slightly busier than usual during 2020.
Your feedback regarding the meals at The Haven Hotel in Sandbanks has been passed on to the hotel for their information, thank you.
We look forward to welcoming you on a future Headwater holiday, keep an eye out for lots more UK walking holidays being available in 2021.
Megan at Headwater did an excellent job in sorting out our arrangements at short notice after our Exodus trip to Portugal was cancelled. Finding available rooms in all four hotels proved to be a challenge given the increased demand for UK holidays this year. Fortunately, our start date was flexible and Megan managed to find the accommodation for us.
A very pleasant way to spend a quiet but active week
We are very long term Headware holiday customers but this was our first holiday in the UK. The walk was really excellent with a sufficient variety of scenery. The places to stay were in general well chosen by the company.There was a slight hiccup on moving our baggage to the second hotel which we have never experienced before but both Headwater and the local links sorted it.After that everything was fine and we really enjoyed the experience. Swanage is a lovely place and on our stay put day even the rain did not stop us finding plenty to do.
Very tiring but very rewarding and challenging in parts!
Much enjoyed it, thanks
The actual walk was perfect but the boot rating needs looking at because of the climbs and descents which are tough in some areas, possibly the routes can be written by a walker with distances give between each marker, in the event of an accident etc. location positions not possible in terms of distance travelled and
unknown distance to next marker location.
Excellent coastal scenery. Be wary of ticks especially if taking the upper path on the day to Lulworth cove. It is worth having an extra night in Weymouth as there are lots of things to do such as visiting Chesil Beach, Portland Castle and exploring Portland.
Headwater take the hassle out of your holiday
It was very easy to book this holiday and follow up with invoicing, final itinerary, final documents, etc. The local agents Roy and Jackie were fabulous and very welcoming and helpful. The route notes and maps were very accurate. I would do this again, just maybe do some more days !
Thoroughly enjoyed this holiday. There was a good variety of walks including the coastal path and an inland ridge walk. The views were very beautiful and often spectacular and we were lucky with the weather. The gentleman rep who met us at Weymouth was very helpful and friendly which made for a good start. All the luggage transfers worked and the one taxi ride we needed went according to plan. The accommodation was interestingly varied but all very good or excellent. Only minor criticisms really were the cooked breakfasts at Purbeck House and Haven Hotel were cold but that can happen with buffet style breakfasts and Purbeck House needs to update the mattress on the single bed in the room we had. Other than that we liked everything about the accommodation we stayed in. The best breakfast was at Olivers and the room with the best view was at B&B Weymouth. The first day of this walk is quite challenging - the coastal path in the Durdle Door area is very steep up and down but we took it slowly and managed OK (and we did walk the first 2 miles instead of taking the bus - but that was worth it as the flat walk along Weymouth prom was beautiful in the early morning sunshine that day). We are glad we went!
Excellent. Memorable scenery, well planned itinerary and routes, good accommodation and an excellent support available during the walk.
A delightful area, very pleasant walking, just the right degree of challenge for us.
Some slight errors in the notes which caused a little confusion but did not lead us astray.
A challenging and interesting experience. It was good to know there was back up if needed, which in our case proved indispensable as we had to alter our arrangements.
Beautiful coastline ,lovely walks
We were warmly welcomed by the local agent who advised us and made sure collections of us and our luggage happened on time. This generally worked well, with only one slight mishap. Whilst a couple of the hotels on our walking holiday wouldn't necessarily have been our personal choice, all of them were clean and comfortable. Locally sourced food was available in most of them.
The daily walking routes were very well written and only occasionally did we refer to the thoughtfully provided OS map. Going off piste was minimal. The Jurassic coastal path walking was magnificent.
In summary, considering the late time of year, travel to and from the West Country was not included and the fact that the accommodation was only half board, on reflection we felt the holiday was quite expensive. However it was good to have somebody else resolve the logistics so we could focus on enjoying the walking. Thank you to the Headwater team.
Wonderful trip with nice lodging and wonderful varied hikes.
Arrival and Transfers:
This was our 6th Headwater trip and we were joined by another couple on their first trip with Headwater. We flew into Heathrow a day prior to the start of the trip and proceeded to make our way to Weymouth. We had considered using a coach/rail transfer but ultimately decided on a private transfer as it was less expensive for a party of four. We used Thompson Airport Cars (£145.00 for a private minibus). The driver met us at the terminal, was very professional, gave us some ideas for our time in Weymouth and drove us to the front of the Weymouth B+B. This was a very relaxing, efficient, and stress-free way to get from Heathrow to Weymouth for the start of the walk. While in Weymouth we purchased our return train tickets from Poole to Waterloo Station, taking advantage of a £16 off peak, advance purchase rate on
We had arranged to meet with the local agent (Roy) shortly after our arrival and he went over the particulars of each day and gave us a great overview of the hiking, lodging, logistics and some restaurant and activity recommendations. He was very friendly and has a great sense of humor.
Weymouth B+B: Excellent central location across from the waterfront and bus stops. Very plain but comfortable rooms. Our room faced a courtyard and was quiet. Our travel companions room faced the side street and, maybe because of the bank holiday, they encountered a lot of street noise late into the night. The breakfast consisted of a small buffet and cooked to order eggs, sausage, mushrooms etc.
Alford House (Corfe Castle): Very Nice B&B on the main street about a five minute walk from the center of Corfe Castle. Our host, Suzie offered us refreshments upon our arrival, dinner recommendations and a cooked to order breakfast. The room was large, nicely furnished, quiet and very comfortable.
Purbeck House (Swanage): A beautiful hotel about a 5 minute walk uphill from the center of town. Our room was a nice size room up several flights of stairs facing a courtyard. The room was fairly quiet, but as it faced south west tended to be a little warm. Breakfast was a combination of a buffet/cooked to order.
Harbor Heights (Poole): A modern, comfortable, air conditioned hotel that was about a 25-30 min walk from the ferry dock. Great views of the harbor. Two strong ecommendations if you stay in this hotel. Ask the local rep/headwater about taking the local bus from the ferry to the hotel. After the wonderful hike from Swanage to the Poole Chain ferry, the walk to the hotel was along a road and not particularly scenic. Also, the hotel is not very close to other restaurants and while the on-site restaurant was good, the available dining times were somewhat limited the night of our stay. It might be worthwhile to ask the rep (or call ahead) to secure a reservation at the time you want
The hikes were accurately described in the program and the the directions were clear and easy to follow. The 1+ boot description was accurate. Three of the hikes had wonderful coastal views , while the the hike from Corfe Castle to Swanage provided expansive
views across the countryside.
As I mentioned, we arrived a day early in Weymouth and took the local bus to the cliffs at West Bay and explored Abbotsbury. On our short day in Swanage, we finished up our hike by 2:30 and were able to take a tour boat along the coast from Swanage to Poole (and Return). This was a great, relaxing way to see the next day's coastal hike from the sea. I would highly recommend it.
These trips are like a treasure hunt. Each day you wake up and embark on a new adventure following detailed notes/maps not knowing what you will see or encounter around the next bend. The scenery on our Jurassic coast walk was just spectacular.
Lovely route, fantastic scenery, quite challenging in some places and paths a little higher than expected for a person with vertigo.
A good holiday with manageable walks , nice weather and stunning coastal and countryside views . Best was Corfe Castle , a lovely little village overlooked by the impressive castle ruins.
Accommodation fine except for the B + B in Weymouth ; room cheerless and austere , and location rather noisy ; was woke twice in the night by people shouting and swearing in the street below.
Overall had a fantastic holiday walking along the Jurassic coast. We were extremely lucky with the weather and pre-booked all but one of our evening meals (using Trip advisor) to ensure they too were of an excellent standard. The accommodation provided varied in style but all were scrupulously clean and offered an excellent selection of food at breakfast; the four star accommodation at the end of the holiday which included access to a heated outdoor pool and spa was especially welcome after all the walking. The route notes were excellent; very easy to follow.
They were happy to wait unitl 10,00 a.m. to collect our luggage in the mornings, which was great,as we were on holiday and didn't want to rush our
breakfast, before walking. All the hotels were well chosen. The holiday was well thought out. We took the wrong route at Durdle Door and ended up on
an extremely steep area, so listen carefully to the Rep's instructions. Our rep recommended restaurants for us and booked them, so we had a nice
meal at Rick Steins in Poole, and several other nice places, that we might have missed otherwise. Make sure you take a sun hat, as there is not
alot of shade on the walks. Expect to feel quite tired, unless you walk 8 miles on a regular basis.
Good walking with fantastic scenery.
The holiday provided us with an opportunity to visit and explore an interesting part of England which was unknown to us and the walks were varied with some spectacular scenery. Apart from the walking itinerary itself, there were lots of places and sites to visit, including Portland Bill, Brownsea Island, Corfe Castle, the Swanage Railway, and by way of expedition from Weymouth, both of Thomas Hardy's houses near Dorchester. As usual with Headwater the accommodation was comfortable and thoughtfully chosen.
If you enjoy being in the open air enjoying the country then this holiday is great with very comfortable rooms and great food and places to see, I would recommend this to anyone.
For keen walkers who want a holiday organised for them, including luggage-transfer, and are prepared to pay, this is an excellent holiday, but not for the faint-hearted or unfit, as although the distances seem short, the walks are often very strenuous, and there are frequent opportunities for stumbling over loose surfaces, especially on descents. The route descriptions are meticulous, and well-marked,and there is really no need for map-reading. The evening food is often expensive, especially at The Haven, where there is really no local alternative.
Beautiful region, fantastic scenery, good walks but not too strenuous.
Great opportunity to visit famous sites in UK within a structured organised and well supported walk
Wonderful walking trip - could definitely be done more challenging walking options outlined in route notes & more of the coatst covered. It really is a turquoise coast when the sun shines!
A unique experience that gave great opportunities to see parts of the country that we might not see if we were traveling independently. Following the route notes gives you the confidence to venture further, knowing that you could then get back to your route. Having a rep at the end of the phone just in case anything went wrong gave us a sense of safety and security and proved invaluable when I was unable to walk on the final day.
You can be confident that our pricing includes all the standard requirements of your holiday and many additional extras. Always ensure that you are comparing like for like when booking your holiday.
This 5 night self-guided walking holiday includes:
Hotel-to-hotel accommodation in a mix of , and hotels
Management by local hotelier
Route directions and maps
Luggage transfers between hotels
How to book:
We do not currently have departure dates and prices available on-line. The season may have ended for this tour, or we are still in the process of adding these details to our website. Please contact us for further details.
Please contact us for child prices.
Self-guided walking Managed locally by hotelier.
Take a taxi from Weymouth train station at any time (payable locally) and on return you will need to get a taxi/bus Poole station payable locally.
This holiday does not include any flights or rail.