Our Recommended Nature Reserves to Explore Across Dorset

Our Recommended Nature Reserves to Explore Across Dorset

Our Recommended Nature Reserves to Explore Across Dorset

Our Recommended Nature Reserves to Explore Across Dorset

As a rural and wildlife rich county, you won’t go far without finding a picturesque nature reserve to explore in Dorset.

From lush green meadows to wild wildlife havens, here’s a few of our top recommendations to visit across the county:

Brownsea Island

Brownsea Island is an internationally important nature reserve in Poole Harbour featuring rare wildlife, including red squirrels (over 200!) and wading birds. The island is family-friendly with free walking trails, natural play areas and fun activities in school holidays. Hop on a ferry from Poole Quay for a day trip or camp overnight (like the Scouts!)

Durlston Country Park

Situated a mile from Swanage, Durlston Country Park and Castle’s 320 acres of woodland, coastal trails and fascinating wildlife provide plenty to explore. The Astronomy Centre houses a telescope as Durlston’s dark skies are ideal for marvelling at the solar system, star clusters, galaxies and meteor showers. With breath-taking clifftop views, did you know that Durlston is one of the best places in the country to spot dolphins?

The Blue Pool

The Blue Pool is a gorgeous turquoise natural swimming hole set in 25 acres of woodland between Wareham and Corfe Castle. Did you know that the unique colour of the water is due to light diffracting from minuscule particles of clay suspended in its still depths? The reserve sits on the Furzebrook Estate which has a history going back nearly 400 years. We recommend hiking around the pool and grabbing a bite to eat at the tearooms. There’s even a kid’s playground hidden amongst the trees.

Arne Nature Reserve

Overlooking Poole Harbour, Arne Nature Reserve remains one of the few places in the UK where all six of the UK's native reptiles can be found. Covering over 565 hectares of the Arne peninsular and within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, its striking landscape consists of dramatic open heathland and ancient oak woodland.
Thorncombe Wood

With a variety of trees and wildlife including dormice, dragonflies and Dartmoor ponies, Thorncombe Wood near Dorchester is a lovely place to explore with the family. With his cottage on the outskirts, the ancient woodland was the playground of the novelist Thomas Hardy. In spring, the wood is the ideal place to wander among a carpet of bluebells.

Corfe Mullen Meadows

Corfe Mullen Meadows has two wildflower meadows with a large population of green-winged orchids and the reserve is an important habitat for pollinators, with bees, moths and bugs all thriving in the tranquil environment.

Stour Valley Nature Reserve

Stour Valley Nature Reserve, on the north-west edge of Bournemouth, features a two mile stretch of riverside footpath, meadows, hedgerows and woodland. Look out for otters and kingfishers whilst roaming the marked accessible trails.

Lytchett Fields

Lytchett Fields, a series of protected pools with islands for roosting birds, is one of the premier wetland sites in Dorset. Over 30 species of wading bird have visited the reserve since its creation in 2013.

Tout Quarry Sculpture Park & Nature Reserve

Tout Quarry Sculpture Park & Nature Reserve on Portland features an unusual array of stone sculptures, a maze of paths and plenty of hidey holes for a fun day out with the family. Take in the panoramic views of the breath-taking coastline whilst you’re there.
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Added: 23rd September 2021

Sherborne AbbeyWimborneGold Hill, Shaftesbury