With no cities or motorways, and over half the county designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the stunning beaches and countryside of Dorset make an awe-inspiring site for outdoor enthusiasts. The open terrain plays host to a great number of accessible activities, suitable for all tastes and capabilities.
Whether you’re after a peaceful day of fishing, a round of golf, or a picturesque walk or bike ride to get the blood pumping, there is always an excuse to get some fresh air. And for those who want to try something a little more extreme, there is deep sea diving and off-road driving! With one of the more reliable climates in the UK, Dorset has a vast choice of experiences on offer and ample opportunity to get out and active.
Bournemouth’s seven miles of award-winning beaches are hugely popular with tourists, but if you’re itching to get off the lounger, then a trip to the RockReef centre on Bournemouth Pier is in order. Ditch the swimwear for your sports kit and have a go at the Clip N Climb challenges, or alternatively brave the Leap of Faith or Vertical Slide.
Without doubt, the centre’s pride and joy is its Pierzip, the world’s first zip wire to travel from pier to shore. Climb to the top of the zip tower and then enjoy a 30 second flight above the waves, landing on the golden beach. Better still, there are two parallel lines, so you can race against friends and family alike!
So named because of its warmly coloured sandstone top, Golden Cap is a hill and cliff that stands between Bridport and Charmouth, overlooking the sea. At 191 metres tall, the summit is the highest point on the South Coast and offers breath-taking panoramic views across the surrounding landscape. Also sure to take your breath away is the route to the top, with steep ascents more suited to capable walkers than family groups.
However, for those who manage the climb, the reward speaks for itself. The Jurassic Coast is Britain’s only natural UNESCO World Heritage Site and this is one of its very finest vantage points.
Ideal for groups with varied interests, this versatile valley country park offers activities to suit a range of tastes. Since opening in 1988, the park has expanded rapidly to cater for popular demand and now offers an 18-hole golf course, a high ropes course, fishing in the Moors Lake, an authentic steam train and more.
For those wishing to navigate the forest on two wheels, there is a cycle hire centre and graded tracks to suit different levels of ability. Experts will be drawn to the Bike Park or the sculptured Pump Track that will test their skills. And if you have small children, the Play Trail, complete with the giant ‘ants nest’, ‘snake pit’ and ‘crocodile crossing’ makes for an exciting hour of exploration!
In addition to its status as one of the UK’s most scenic spots, and its value to the archaeological world, the Jurassic Coast also makes a delightful natural playground. There is a huge array of water sports to be enjoyed across Dorset’s many beaches, and Jurassic Coast Activities offer some of the most exciting experiences. Take to the water in a kayak and navigate the waves for a unique view of the natural wonders at Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. Alternatively, you can book in for a coasteering session for an adventurous journey that sees you climbing, crawling and jumping your way along the cliffs, caves and pools of the coastline.
Also known as the ‘Bay of a Thousand Wrecks’ there is plenty of history to explore in the depths of West Bay. For those who want a scuba experience, the skilled team at West Bay Diving will take you around the sunken remains of various submarines, ships and even the Abbotsbury Bomber, a drowned American fighter plane. There are also a variety of reef and drift dives to choose from, with an abundance of diverse marine life to marvel at. If you’d rather stay on the surface, you can also board the Ruby J for deep sea fishing excursions, sightseeing trips or dolphin watching!
Set on an expansive 200-acre site in Buckland Newton, Henley Hillbillies offers speed and accuracy based, adrenaline fuelled activities that are perfect for group days out. Head to the hills for an off road adventure, with four different vehicles each offering a unique experience. Four-wheelers include quad bikes, Mini Mavriks, and the innovative Polaris Ace dirt buggies, while those wanting to soar across the terrain may be tempted to tackle the fan-powered hovercrafts, which can reach speeds of 40 mph!
For those aiming for a technical challenge, there is also a range of precision shooting activities. From air rifles to crossbows, pick your weapon of choice and then test your accuracy against your companions! .