Kit P

Traversing Dorset's undulating rural landscape — Jubilee Trail

Odd Wellies (CC BY 2.0)

Traversing Dorset's undulating rural landscape — Jubilee Trail

Hiking Collection by Kit P

6-13

days

3-6 h

/ day

91.9 mi

6,550 ft

6,500 ft

This fantastic long-distance footpath spans the beautiful county of Dorset. Brimming with ancient history, undulating downs and hidden villages, the route was created in 1995 to celebrate the Ramblers’ Association’s 60th anniversary. Stretching from the majestic Forde Abbey on Dorset’s western edge to Martin Down in the east, you find yourself in impossibly quaint places walking along paths you never knew existed.

The Jubilee Trail is 89 miles (143 km) long but with the odd little detour, this itinerary reaches 92 miles (148 km). I’ve split the route into nine stages, beginning in the west and ending in the east. Rural for the majority, the stages range between 7 and 14 miles (11 - 23 km) and end in settlements. Of course, you can link together stages as you like or do individual stages as pretty day walks.

Country houses, beautiful churches and plenty of thatched cottages will all crop up as you explore the wonderful Trail. Dorset is full of tiny villages with long histories and you won’t be short of a pub lunch if the mood catches you. Beyond the settlements is an endless patchwork blanket of farmland hiding even more secrets.

The county’s landscape is dotted with long barrows, ancient settlements and Iron Age earthworks. There are so many instances of Neolithic burial chambers that you can scarcely go more than a couple of miles without being within sight of one. In fact, the trail ends at Bokerley Ditch, a lengthy Bronze Age defensive earthwork.

You can hike the Jubilee Trail at any time of year, although walking from mid-spring to mid-autumn offers the most vibrant experience in terms of plants and wildlife. Dorset is in the middle of England’s south coast and can have fabulous summers with warm weather and pleasant sea breezes. However, it’s also changeable, like the rest of the country, so bring sturdy boots and waterproofs to be on the safe side.

There’s nothing too challenging on this adventure but you are often either going up or going down thanks to the undulating nature. Most of the hills are reasonably gentle though, and as the majority of the hike is in one of two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Dorset AONB or Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB), the views are always glorious.

Be sure to book all overnight accommodation in advance and plan well, as rural Dorset is not the easiest place to find a bed for the night. Private providers such as Airbnb are useful, but you’ll find inns, B&Bs and small hotels on or near the route too.

Reach the start at Forde Abbey by catching the train to Crewkerne or Axminster (on the London Waterloo line) and taking a taxi for the final stretch. The best way to leave the Trail at Bokerley Ditch is to hike the 2.6 miles (4.3 km) to Martin Drove End and catch the number 20 Salisbury Reds bus to Salisbury. This stunning cathedral city has excellent rail links to London, Southampton and further afield.

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Difficult
    05:35
    12.6 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,075 ft
    1,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The first stage of the Jubilee Trail starts in a rather grand setting, Forde Abbey. This stunning estate also sits on the Dorset/Somerset border and the edge of the Dorset …

  • Intermediate
    03:39
    8.30 mi
    2.3 mph
    750 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Dorset’s countryside is endlessly pretty and this stage is a perfect mixture of nature reserves, village churches and historic houses. It leaves Beaminster and uses paths and tracks to meander …

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  • Difficult
    06:19
    14.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    1,200 ft
    1,425 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    One of the hillier parts of the trail, this stage travels south through the Dorset AONB, towards the coast. Enjoy fantastic views of the county’s chalky landscape, particularly from Hardy’s …

  • Intermediate
    03:52
    8.97 mi
    2.3 mph
    550 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    This 9-mile (14 km) hike rambles about the Dorset countryside passing quaint villages, ancient tumuli and watercress farms. While there is an ascent early on to reach the top of …

  • Intermediate
    04:34
    10.7 mi
    2.4 mph
    525 ft
    550 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Woodlands, rivers and heathland fill this hike. Almost entirely flat, the landscape is noticeably different from the previous, more undulating chalk hill stages. Although Dorset is 53% AONB, this stage …

  • Intermediate
    04:03
    9.31 mi
    2.3 mph
    750 ft
    525 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Striking north, this hike takes you into the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB. Chalk hills and rivers typify this area with added ancient woodlands and hedgerows filled with …

  • Intermediate
    04:55
    11.2 mi
    2.3 mph
    850 ft
    900 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    Working its way through Cranborne Chase AONB, this stage is undulating with plenty of footpaths, quiet lanes and trails that feel utterly secret. Stourpaine, a small village on the banks …

  • Intermediate
    04:10
    9.86 mi
    2.4 mph
    425 ft
    475 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The penultimate stage of the Jubilee Trail is almost flat and explores the hedgerows, fields and woodlands of Dorset. There’s plenty of history on this hike, from ancient earthworks and …

  • Intermediate
    02:54
    6.69 mi
    2.3 mph
    475 ft
    375 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The final stage of the Jubilee Trail is also the shortest at a little under seven miles (11 km). As it ends on the Dorset border at Martin Down — …

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    9
  • Distance
    91.9 mi
  • Duration
    40:01 h
  • Elevation
    6,550 ft6,500 ft

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Kit P

Traversing Dorset's undulating rural landscape — Jubilee Trail