TODAY is National Take a Hike Day. Hiking is defined as “walking for a long distance, especially across country”. Not only is it good exercise, the scenic vistas are also good for the mind and soul. Here are six Dorset trails to try this weekend...

1. Corfe Castle to Ballard Down. Part of the Purbeck Way, this 8.75 mile route takes you from the historic village of Corfe Castle and along the Purbeck Ridge to Ballard Down. You then follow the South West Coast Path into Swanage. Why not stop at the beach or a tearoom before catching a steam train from Swanage railway, or bus back to Corfe Castle? For more details,

2. Old Harry & Ballard Down. This route is just over five miles using a section of the South West Coast Path starting from the village of Studland before heading to the high cliffs offering some spectacular views. There is a pay and display car park in the village. For full details, see

3. Cranborne to Martin Down. This 12 mile route climbs gently to Penbury Knoll then drops down into the small hamlet of Pentridge before crossing Bokerley Dyke onto Martin Down National Nature Reserve. Start at the Cranborne Garden Centre. Free parking 9am to 5pm. There is also a shorter option of five miles overlooking the ridges of Cranborne Chase. (For full details on either of these routes visit website

4. Kimmeridge to Tyneham. The picturesque village of Kimmeridge is the starting point for this 6.8 miles walk. This varied route combines dramatic seascapes with the interesting story of Tyneham deserted village. The route also passes one of Britain’s few land based oil wells and includes a section of fine ridge walking. Sections of this walk cross the firing ranges and you are advised to take heed of all warnings in respect of path closures. In addition it is recommended you stay on marked paths and do not touch any suspicious objects that you might find. For more details, see

5. Bindon Hill and the Fossil Forest from Lulworth. This Dorset walk visits two of the important features of the Jurassic Coast, namely Lulworth Cove and the Fossil Forest, in a circular route that also provides fine views of Kimmeridge Bay from the summit of Bindon Hill. The start is the main car park next to the visitor centre at Lulworth Cove. See

6. Shaftesbury Loop via Wessex Ridgeway. From Shaftesbury, this 9.8 mile circular walk takes you through the Nadder Valley and past the twin villages of Donhead St Mary and Donhead St Andrews. Descending from picturesque Shaftesbury into the lush valley of the River Nadder, the route leads through woods and pastures through the tiny hamlets of Higher, Middle and Lower Combe. The chalk river fills ponds in the low ground and some of the paths can be narrow and wet. See