Autumn is undoubtedly one of our of favourite times of year at Ulwell Holiday Park. Despite the days getting shorter, the mild weather lends itself to days spent exploring the local area and taking in the stunning views. Dorset is famed for its spectacular coastline, but at this time of year, it’s the surrounding countryside that really comes into its own. As the trees change colour, the vibrant shades of orange, red and yellow, create the perfect backdrop for long and leisurely walks.
Here we share some of our favourite autumn walks in Dorset that can be enjoyed during an autumn break at our caravan and camping park in Swanage. We truly believe September and October are the perfect months to enjoy a holiday in the UK, especially if you’re looking to enjoy the beauty of the South West without the crowds.
1. Arne Nature Reserve, Wareham
Photo credit: Chris Parker, Flickr
Arne Nature Reserve is just a short drive from our holiday park in Swanage. It is managed by the RSPB and boasts a mix of ancient woodland and sprawling heathland. There are a variety of trails of varying distance, so you’re bound to find the perfect walk for your family. In the forest there are beautiful ponds as well as outdoor play equipment if you’ve got younger members of the family in tow. Some of the routes take you to the shores of Poole Harbour, where you can admire the scenery and look out to Brownsea island and beyond.
From the various hides located throughout the site you can try and spot some of the migrating birds that have travelled long distances to shelter from the arctic winter. October and November also mark the height of the deer rutting season, so you may be lucky and see sika deer during your visit.
2. Colmer’s Hill, Bridport
If you’re venturing to West Dorset during your stay at Ulwell Holiday Park, make sure you take a walk up Colmer’s Hill. This iconic Dorset landmark offers panoramic views over the surrounding landscape and the Jurassic Coast from its peak. On a clear day it’s possible to see Portland in the distance as well as patchwork farmland and rolling hills. Despite its steep appearance, the walk is relatively easy and can be incorporated into a circular route from the Symmondsbury Estate. Here you can treat yourself to some tea and cake and the end of the walk to reward your efforts.
3. Thorncombe Woods, Dorchester
Thorncombe Woods are situated on the outskirts of Dorchester, Dorset’s county town. This extensive woodland is an idyllic spot for an autumn walk, with 26 hectares of land to explore. We highly recommend making a trip here just as the leaves are changing colour – it truly is a landscape photographers dream! Children will have an excellent time playing in the leaves, building dens, foraging for conkers and spotting squirrels and wild ponies.
For those interested in literature, Thorncombe Woods is home to Hardy’s Cottage, birthplace of renowned novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy. During your trip you can walk in his footsteps and visit various sites that appeared within his novels, such as Egdon Heath and Rushy Pond.
4. Kingston Lacy, Sturminster Marshall
The gardens at Kingston Lacy are one of our favourite places in Dorset for an autumn walk. The immaculate grounds are awash with colour at this time of year and a real spectacle to behold against the backdrop of the impressive stately home. The woodland walk takes you to the Japanese garden, where you can find a quiet spot to enjoy the sunshine and admire the plants. There Japanese garden alone features 40 types of acer and over 180 trees.
We recommend combining your trip to Kingston Lacy with a visit to White Mill. Located on the same estate, this historic corn mill occupies a beautiful spot overlooking the River Stour. Take a leisurely stroll over the bridge and enjoy the surrounding countryside. If you arrive early enough, you may even catch the frost and lingering autumn mist.
5. Brownsea Island, Poole
An autumn walk on Brownsea Island is a true adventure, not least because of the boat ride needed to get there! This tranquil retreat in the middle of Poole harbour is a haven for wildlife and offers plentiful trails and quiet bays to explore during your trip. Keep your eyes peeled for an elusive red squirrel on your walks. During the autumn months they’re busy burying the plentiful supply of nuts in readiness for the cold winter ahead.
6. Corfe Castle, Corfe
If you’re visiting Ulwell in the autumn months you must take some time to explore the spectacular walks on our doorstep. The Purbeck hills are home to some of the best walks in the county, with far reaching views in every direction. From the grounds of our park you can pick up the Purbeck Way, which follows the ridgeline to the village of Corfe. Along the route you will be treated to a glimpse of Swanage Bay and Poole harbour before the ruins of Corfe Castle come in to view. We love this walk at any time of year, but there’s something quite special about looking out over Corfe Castle on a crisp day.
7. Chapmans Pool, Worth Matravers
All of the walks we’ve shared so far have featured countryside locations, but is a holiday in Dorset complete without a trip to the coast? For this autumn walk we thought we’d share a secret spot that is seldom visited, even by locals. Chapmans Pool is a quiet and remote cove flanked by towering cliffs. With no tourism infrastructure of any kind, this peaceful spot is only accessible by a scenic walk through the Purbeck countryside.
8. Gold Hill, Shaftsbury
Gold Hill in Shaftsbury, North Dorset is one of the most iconic viewpoints in Dorset. Famous for its role in the classic Hovis bread advert, this picture-perfect cobbled street is popular with landscape photographers as well as visitors simply wanting to admire the view. The autumn light catches the thatched cottages beautifully and, in the distance, the Blackmore Vale looks stunning in various shades of orange and brown.
There are many walks that can be enjoyed from Gold Hill, but we recommend taking some time to explore the town of Shaftsbury itself. Taking in the winding streets, pretty chocolate-box cottages and independent shops are delightful way to spend an afternoon.
9. Blue Poole, Wareham
Photo credit: Alison Day, Flickr
Blue Pool is a favourite spot for guests to Ulwell Holiday Park. The pool at the centre of the forest varies in colour, sometimes bright turquoise and other times a pretty shade of green. Surrounding the pool there is a 25-acre park made up of woodland and heathland to explore.
10. Studland Bay, Studland
For our final walk we’re keeping it close to home with a trip to Studland Bay. Often thought of as a summer destination, this magical spot takes on a completely different lease of life during the autumn and winter months. Bring your four-legged friend for a walk along the expansive shoreline or to play amongst the dunes as you admire the crashing waves. A bracing early morning walk is just what you need to start the day!
Ulwell Holiday Park is the perfect destination for a staycation this Autumn. With cosy caravans for hire alongside our well-maintained touring pitches, you’re guaranteed a comfortable autumn break. Check availability and book online!