Match each of the paragraphs below with its corresponding heading A-J. There are three headings you do not need to use.
A - A walk across farming fields and grassland
B - Be ready for rough weather
C - For lovers of the natural world
D - For those who are interested in minerals and rocks
E - It used to be a hotspot for criminals
F - Man settled in this area a long time ago
G - Many battles took place in this area
H - Not suitable if you are unfit
I - Perfect if you fancy going for a swim
J - The area inspired a famous novelist
Located in the middle of Poole harbour, Brownsea is a dramatically located wildlife refuge with a rich history and great views of the surrounding area. The birthplace of the Scouting movement, it has plenty to divert families, with the Baden-Powell Outdoor Centre providing excursions and activities. The real star, however, is the wildlife, with red squirrels, deer, lizards, insects and birdlife all in residence. This short walk takes you through some of the best spots, but further wandering may result in its own wildlife-spotting rewards.
This short circular walk along golden Burton Cliff takes in some spectacular clifftop views of the Jurassic coast. Hive beach below is part of the fascinating stony beach coastline around Lyme Bay. It was a key landing stage for smugglers, and folklore says that a local fisherman or smuggler could tell exactly where he was on the beach at night or in fog simply by looking at the size of the pebbles. You can enjoy the view with some fine fresh fish at the Hive Beach Café.
There are few castles more evocative than Corfe Castle, an imposing ruin perched high on the hill, which is thought to be the inspiration for Kirrin Castle in Enid Blyton's Famous Five books. It's a formidable defensive, and the common around the castle has been shaped by human activity over thousands of years, leaving an interesting archaeological landscape. Cream teas for the tired walker await in the Bankes Arms Hotel or, for something stronger, the beer garden overlooking the castle at the Greyhound Inn is the perfect place to relax with a pint.
The sand spit of Studland is the start point for the South West Coast Path, and is also home to some fantastic beaches, with barbecue spots and views across to Sandbanks (a short journey away on the chain ferry), Bournemouth, and the Isle of Wight. The wide open Shell Bay is a popular spot, with gently sloping waters backed by dunes, while for those who prefer slightly more freedom, the most popular naturist beach in Britain is nearby.
Dorset's countryside is scattered with forts, castles, gun emplacements and other fortifications. There are several recognisable ancient monuments in the county, including the two Iron Age hill forts featured in this walk. Lambert's Castle offers fine views of the surrounding area, with the coast visible on clear days. The medieval fishpond is also well worth a visit.
Inland Dorset is Thomas Hardy country, with landscapes right out of his novels. You can still visit his birthplace and his later home, Max Gate, but the essence of Hardy is found in the surrounding countryside that inspired his semi-fictional Wessex. This walk takes you through the Downs in which his novels of the Blackmore Vale are set, featuring far-reaching views and an ancient landscape. For a nearby pick me up, The Fontmell is a good, newly-refurbed country pub.
Following a short stretch of the South West Coast Path, this walk takes in the area around Chesil Beach, an 18-mile long "barrier beach" that shelters Weymouth from the erosion caused by the prevailing wind and waves. Fishermen are a common sight on the coastline. Further inland, the wide hedgerows offer excellent habitats for birds.
Melbury Downs, Dorset. Photograph: Alamy for The Guardian
Brownsea Island – C
Burton Bradstock – E
Corfe – F
Godlingston Heath – I
Marshwood – G
Melbury Downs – J
West Bexington - B