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Walk - South Dorset Ridgeway

3D Fly Through

View a 3D fly through of the route using the Google Earth plugin

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Highlights

  • Chesil Beach: This extraordinary natural ridge of pebbles extends for over 17 miles from West Bay to Portland and is thought to be between 4000 and 7000 years old. Many ships have been lost along this stretch of coast, which was renamed ‘Dead Man’s Cove’ by Thomas Hardy who was born in Dorset.
  • The views over the Fleet Lagoon: at 8 miles (13 km) long, this is the largest tidal lagoon in Britain and a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the extraordinarily rich variety of wildlife found here, including 150 species of algae and underwater meadows of eelgrasses. All this vegetation supports a vast number of birds, especially in the winter.
  • Abbotsbury Castle: Iron Age hill fort.
  • The Hardy Monument: this impressive structure was built to celebrate the life of Admiral Thomas Masterman Hardy, who is probably best known as the Captain of HMS Victory at the time of Lord Nelson’s death at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. The panoramic views from here are truly spectacular.
  • Bincombe Church: the small Holy Trinity Church dates from the 12th century. and not far from here is Bincombe Hill which is said to be the very hill that The Grand Old Duke of York instructed his 10,000 men to march up and down!
  • Views of the remains of medieval strip systems.
  • The White Horse: above the seaside town of Weymouth sits a famous Dorset landmark, the White Horse, which was constructed to commemorate the holiday visits of King George III to the town. The King is depicted astride the horse.
  • Osmington and Osmington Mills: this area of Dorset was visited by the great landscape painter John Constable, who actually stayed in Osmington during his honeymoon. A painting of the Bowleaze Cove hangs in the National Gallery (click here to see a copy). You will find a few welcome stops offering refreshments. You could try the 13th century Smugglers Inn which was the headquarters of the famous French smuggler Pierre Latour, known locally as French Peter, or the cliff top cafe which has spectacular views.
  • Arriving back at the sea and enjoying the views across Weymouth Bay to Portland and along the Path as it leads eastwards along the Dorset coast.

Places of interest

  • The historic village of Abbotsbury: there is much to see and do here, including taking a walk round the Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, browsing the art and craft galleries and exploring the great Tithe Barn and ruins of the Abbey.
  • West Bexington Nature Reserve: the scrub and reed beds are visited by many varieties of birds, including Cetti's warblers, corn buntings, grasshopper warblers, snipe and water rails.
  • Maiden Castle hill fort: this is one of the largest and most complex Iron Age hill forts in Britain and is well worth the detour north.

Longer option

This is a long walk, with few facilities along the way or further ahead, and so we suggest you end the day around Osmington.

Nearby refreshments

There are very few opportunities to find refreshments along the route, so be sure to stock up on supplies at the beginning of the day. During the summer (April-October) there is mobile catering van at the Hardy Monument where you can get free range, local burgers, sausages, bacon, homemade cakes, and ice cream. After this the next option are the pubs and cafes in Osmington and Osmington Mills.

Public transport

South West Trains run regularly between Dorchester and Weymouth. There is also a mainline train station in the cathedral city of Exeter. The X53 bus service runs from Exeter to Abbotsbury, stopping at Swyre which is just north-west of West Bexington. The X53 also runs from Osmington to Weymouth, where you can pick up trains to Dorchester. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the train station and bus stop symbols, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

West Bexington, Abbotsbury, the Hardy Monument, and you may find parking around Osmington and Osmington Mills.

View to Portland Photographer Steve Luck

View to Portland Photographer Steve Luck

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Nearby Events

  • Inside Out on the South Dorset Ridgeway

    This September, from Friday 19th – Sunday 21st inclusive, 9 new artistic commissions will animate the stunning South Dorset Ridgeway, easily explored via the South West Coast Path. Inside Out Dorset Festival is presenting free outdoor events and artworks, will be situated in the village of Littlebredy, Black Down, Ashley Chase and the spaces between.

  • Guided Walk - Moonfleet

    Join a guided walk around Moonfleet exploring the literature and history of this atmospheric place nestling in the shadow of the South Dorset Ridgeway.  In association with the South West Coast Path's 'Great South West Walks'

Nearby Walks

Nearby accommodation

SWCP Association list

This list is provided by the SWCP Association in partnership with Luggage Transfers Ltd (who move walker's bags along the whole path), and these places are used to taking walkers for a single night.

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Latest News

Latest Events

  • Axe Vale & District Conservation Society Bird Watch

    Axe Vale & District Conservation Society Bird Watch - Monday 8th September

    Axe Estuary and Surrounding Area

    Join Ian Waite for a fascinating morning of birdwatching.           

    Date:               Monday 8th September 2014

    Time:               09.30 onwards

    Venue:             Meet at Axmouth Bridge lay by

  • Ocean City Festival

    Plymouth’s annual Ocean City Festival (8th – 28th September) returns bigger and better in 2014. The festival is designed to offer a fun and engaging way for families and visitors to enjoy the city, taste great food, see fascinating marine life, experience inspiring art and music and learn about a world beneath the waves. The event also aims to raise awareness, nationally and internationally, of Plymouth’s role as a leading UK marine city, for research, leisure, heritage and local produce. 

  • Big night out on the beach!

    Big night out on the beach! 

    Sat 13th Sep

    National Trust and South Devon AONB

    South Milton Sands

    Join us for our annual evening of fun and activities on the beach! Watersports taster sessions, rockpooling, bird walks, star gazing, children’s activities, refreshments in the Beach House café and more! (Bring a clean jam jar if you want to make a lantern.) Free (small charges for watersports sessions and car park).

    No need to book - just turn up!

    6pm until late.

    Meet at South Milton Sands, South Milton SX 677414

  • Earth's Studio- Art Workshops II

    Lynmouth Pavilion
    Saturday 13th September
    11am - 4pm


    Join us for an inspirational walk in the woods and use soil and plant pigments to create printed collages of magical mosses, fabulous ferns and lovely lichens. Prepare to get messy as you get up close and personal with these hidden gems!


    Please bring a packed lunch and stout footwear. Also wear suitable clothing as the session may get a bit messy. You may also with to bring a camera. Meet at the Pavilion.


    Booking is essential for these free workshops. Visit www.wildaboutplants.org.uk/events to book your place.

  • Minehead Summertime Tasters

    Minhead Events will be organising a Food & Drink event called Minehead Summertime Tasters that ties in with the CAMRA Real Ale Festival at the West Somerset Railway on 13-14 Sept. 

    This will include local food producers based in the Beach Hotel offering taster sessions, also they hope to have the YMCA doing taster sessions and creative menus.

  • Inside Out on the South Dorset Ridgeway

    This September, from Friday 19th – Sunday 21st inclusive, 9 new artistic commissions will animate the stunning South Dorset Ridgeway, easily explored via the South West Coast Path. Inside Out Dorset Festival is presenting free outdoor events and artworks, will be situated in the village of Littlebredy, Black Down, Ashley Chase and the spaces between.

  • Swanage & Purbeck Walking Festival

    The Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival

    Saturday 20th - Sunday 28th September 2014

    The beautiful Isle of Purbeck is a walker’s paradise. From coast to country, the variety is unsurpassed.  go to the Walking Festival website for more details

  • Guided Walk - Moonfleet

    Join a guided walk around Moonfleet exploring the literature and history of this atmospheric place nestling in the shadow of the South Dorset Ridgeway.  In association with the South West Coast Path's 'Great South West Walks'

  • Seafood Festival

    As part of the Ocean City Festival Plymouth’s Seafood Festival (Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th September) will showcase the fantastic quality of seafood available in Plymouth, both local and celebrity chefs will create a range of mouth-watering dishes from the catch of the day.  

  • Tales of the Exmoor Coast

    27th Sep 2014 4:00pm-8:00pm

    Hear folk lore, fable and fact about Exmoor's coast from Exmoor National Park Ranger Tim Parish, then we invite you to add your own! Interactive and entertaining - come and share your stories...

    This event is brought to you by: Lynmouth Pavilion Project
    Location: Lynmouth Pavilion EX35 6EQ
    Booking: Booking not essential but would be helpful
    Charge: Free event
    Contact: 01598 752509