The only thing that can top Dorset walks? Pairing them with a pub pit stop to turn them into pub walks of course!. Not to be confused with a pub crawl. Pub walks take you to the best pubs in Dorset, adding a little history, local sites of interest, rare wildlife and sumptuous views on route. Our picks include coastal routes that combine smuggler’s caves and homemade pies, parkland romps that pair with gastropub menus and a pub with a collection of curios and fossils to browse.
Acorn Inn - Evershot
You’ll struggle to find a better dog friendly pub in Dorset. As a gastro pub, the Acorn Inn’s menu alone is enough to lure you here. But paw-friendly accommodation and an easy 5 mile stroll that takes you through woodland, as well as ticking off a few Tess of the d’Urbervilles locations along the way puts this inn among the best pubs in Dorset. Starting in Evershot, you’ll head north to Paradise Wood and onwards to Melbury Park via Lucerne Lake. A skip along the Macmillan Way brings you to Lower Barton before a leisurely stroll past the grand exterior of Melbury House and back to Evershot again. Where you might want to indulge in a souffle or two at the Acorn Inn.
Orbzii tip: If 5 miles is a step too far, nip into Melbury Park for a stroll around the green and pleasant parkland.
Lulworth Cove Inn - Lulworth
If you do one walk on our list, make it this one. Combining a scamper on the sands and woodland trails with a peek into the area’s unique Fossil Forest makes this 5 mile walk a must do. And while we wouldn’t normally recommend following the herd, this stellar walk is an exception. Smuggler’s caves, Lulworth Castle and a chance to sip on the intriguingly-named Badger Beer which, if we trot back to 1777, found its hoppy roots right here in Dorset.
Orbzii tip: If you’ve only got a weekend in Dorset, skip the five mile romp and complete a smaller loop from Durdle Door car park. Get your starters orders at the magnificent Durdledoor then follow the coastal path to the Lulworth Cove Inn – and back for a loop that ticks off some of Dorset’s best beaches.
World’s End - Almer
If you did find this gorgeous, 14th century beaut of a pub at the world’s end? You wouldn’t be disappointed. A menu stuffed with southwest ingredients mingles pub classics (Sunday roast anyone?) with game terrine, crab linguine and Dorset cider braised pork belly. To work up an appetite for the large portions that the World’s End serves up, the local 5 mile walk is your best option. You’ll see Winterborne Zelston on your travels as you follow bridleways through farmer’s fields before looping back to the pub. There’s a bit of dabbling with the A31 at the start – where you cross to find the public footpath, but once you’re over, it’s Dorset countryside from here on.
Following the public footpath signs will take you along the river, past St Mary’s Church and to The Street. Swinging past The Old Rectory, the footpath carries on past farms and through farmland until you loop back to The Street and follow the original path to the World’s End.
The Square and Compass - St Aldhams Head
They keep things refreshingly simple at The Square and Compass. No gastro menus, no frills, just proper pints, homemade pies and pasties and … a Fossil Museum. (as you do!) orth dropping in then to check out their ammonites after a trek along the South West Coastal path. The five mile route takes you past chalk grasslands – keep your eyes peeled for Lulworth Skippers fluttering over the wildflowers – limestone cliffs and caves filled with greater horseshoe bats. Coastal lookouts, panoramic views and the chance to do a little fossil hunting in the limestone at Chapman’s Pool serves up a very Dorset stroll that’s worth detouring from, just a little visit to the pub. Steeped in history, this 18th century ale house could tell a few tales.
Fiddleford Inn - Fiddleford
Do you long for pub menus of yesteryear? When chicken was served in a basket and the most exotic dish was a spicy chilli? Sadly, the chicken at the Fiddleford Inn doesn’t appear in a basket, but they are tipping their chef’s hat to retro eats. Pate and toast, prawn cocktail, scampi and chips, faggots and mash. Hearty fare we’ve long looked over in favour of smashed avo toast and a Malaysian curry. Take a trip back in time – and try the 2.2 mile loop walk that comes with the option to pop into the White Hart in Sturminster Newton for a cheeky half. Starting at the Fiddleford, follow Calf Close Lane until you reach the public footpath sign that takes you between two mills and over the River Stour.
You’ll follow the water over open fields until you pop out in Bridge Street. Follow it right to the White Hart ) and on to Station Road and take a right onto the old railway track. Follow it until you cross the river and arrive back at Calf Close Lane.
Sailor’s Return - East Chaldon
A few pubs in Dorset could be the starting point for a walk to Durdle Door. But we’re plumping for the Sailor’s Return in East Chaldon. Partly because it’s a real leg stretcher – so expect to rack up the miles. But also, it’s an independent inn that comes with thatched roof and real ale vibes. As a free house – it’s not tied to a particular brewery, so you can expect a proper pint.
The menu runs the gamut from black pudding scotch egg to harissa cauliflower steak with options for veggies, vegans and chorizo hungry foodies. The dessert menu means you’ll need to up the pace on the Dorset Downlands to burn enough calories for a slice of pear and almond tart with brandy butter ice cream.
From the pub it’s 3.2 miles to Durdle Door car park – following Chydyock Road before it becomes a footpath. When you reach a T junction in the path, turn left until you reach Durdle Door Holiday Cottages, from there onwards to Durdle Door and the carpark is signposted. Retrace your steps to get back to the pub. Alternatively, plot a longer route back, following the signs from Daggers Gate Grain Store.
Orbzii tip: The Sailor’s Return’s opening hours are limited. 12-2:30 on weekdays (not Monday) and 12-3pm on Sunday mean you’ll have to time your walk well to grab a pint and a plate. Happily, they reopen at 6pm, if your walk takes a little longer.