Romantic Walks to Try this Weekend
‘Wild Dating’ is sweeping the UK and we love it..
The lockdown term refers to couples having to find fun fresh air alternatives to the usual date night. Cinema and restaurants are out - fresh air and doing more is IN. So we thought we’d share our local knowledge for all the lockdown lovers out there looking for some fresh air and frolics.
Three Romantic Rambles to try in Dorset this weekend:
Swyre Head Circular Walk, Dorset
Duration: Under an hour
A super easy circular route that has THE best bench with a view.
1. Start at Swyre Head car park and continue to walk down the road you just drove in on. The road becomes more of a track and bears off to the left after about 10 minutes.
Cross between two fields (often full of sheep) via the footpath and continue until you reach the epic bench on the cliff top.
2. Take a seat and feel smug as your other half swoons at the amazing view and admires your date-planning abilities. Grab an obligatory selfie for Instagram to show the world how outdoorsy and romantic you are and then continue through the gate on your left, heading along the coast path.
3. You’ll walk through another field and gate until you reach a mound. This is worth a climb for even more great views (great marriage proposal spot by the way).
To head back, follow the field inland away from the sea. You should see a big bowl-shaped dip in the land below on your right, as well as an impressive house and grounds.
4. Stay up on the top path and go through the gate and cross the final field back to the car park.
St. Aldhelm’s Chapel, Dorset
Duration: 1-2 hours
Stunning coastal views and a romantic chapel. Easy other than a monster flight of steps halfway through.
1. Start at Renscombe Farm car park and turn right to head towards the sea. Keep going and you’ll pass the quarry on your right.
2. You’ll follow the path past the coastguard cottages and find St. Aldhelms chapel ahead. This sweet little 13th Century chapel (still consecrated and available for weddings if this walk goes better than expected…) was famous for its singing Bishop, who used to sing to draw in the crowds. Pop inside to take a little look.
3.Instead of continuing ahead to the Coastguard tower, take the coastal path to the right along the headland. The path curves back inland to reveal Chapmans Pool bay below on your left.
4. Get ready for some heavy breathing… the steps descend deep into a steep valley and ascend just as sharply out again. Go slow. Enjoy the views!
5. Once you’ve caught your breath and passed the end of Chapmans Pool, you’ll find a fairly wide path that trails from the boathouse and zigzags up the hill.
6. Veer right at the top of the path continuing upwards. Follow the path back across two fields back to the car park.
White Nothe near Ringstead Bay, Dorset
Duration: 2.5 hours
An interesting, varied walk for the more adventurous. 2.5 hours. Walking boots recommended. It’s quite muddy in places, with some steep sections.
1. Ignore the brown sign for Beach Cafe and toll road car park. Instead, follow the road straight up the hill to the free National Trust Ringstead car park. The car park is a pretty impressive spot in itself, with far-reaching views over Weymouth, Portland and Chesil Beach, plus there are a fair few cruise ships bobbing around during lockdown right now. This is a good spot to remember if you’re a fan of the romantic ‘car picnic’ on rainy days.
2. But today we’re motivating you to get outside and do more, so let’s get cracking lovers…
Follow the track to the end of the car park, through the gate. Take the private road down and around the corner to the right, ignoring the first signposted gate. The second gate on the left enters into a field which rises steeply, with the sea on your right. Follow this up to the Coastguard cottages and bear right towards the old watchtower.
3. Just ahead you'll spot a stone signpost marked Smugglers Path. Here, marks the start of a 500 feet zig-zagging descent to the undercliff below. Take your time. Enjoy the view. Watch your step - it’s quite steep. For good girlfriend / boyfriend points, be sure to wait for your other half at the end of each zig and zag instead of gallivanting off down the hill. No one likes a show off.
4. At the bottom of the descent, the path ambles up and down through the wooded undergrowth and finally reaches a completely secluded white rocky beach and turquoise shallows on your right. Stop here for the incredible picnic you’ve had the loving foresight to pack. Kick off your shoes, have a paddle. It’s pretty private - a skinny dip wouldn’t raise many eyebrows if you were feeling brave.
5. To complete the walk, head back to the path and continue along. You need to descend a long flight of wooden steps down to Ringstead Bay beach. The rocks soon turn to shale, which is a little hard going on the legs.
6. Continue along the beach for about 15 minutes until you see a footpath on your right. Descend the muddy steps. The quickest way back to the car park is the veer left when you reach the house and follow the footpath alongside the garden.
7. Veer left again after the property and keep climbing the footpath until you reach the private road you started on.
Adventure Gear for Wild Dating
Ready to go wild dating? Make sure you’re adventure ready with these three key items:
You’ll need a decent bag to carry the magnificent picnic you’ve prepared. We love the Osprey Tempest women’s range. The 20 litre pack is a perfect good size to carry food, water and waterproofs for you both, without being too bulky. It’s designed to sit away from your back thanks to a special ventilated mesh panel , so you won’t get a sweaty back either - never a good look on a date. They also come in some amazing juicy colours - ‘Iris Blue’ is my fave.
In the Osprey men’s range, we’d recommend the 22 Litre Talon 22, which is perfect as an everyday walking backpack.
2. Water bottle
One surefire way to fall out on a date is to forget to bring water. Learn from my mistakes people - I remembered hot chocolate but FORGOT to bring water on a rather thirsty kayaking date around Brownsea Island. Suffice to say we were both parched. Both grumpy. Both deranged trying to scour the island for a tap.
Hydroflask are our favourites vessels for both hot and cold liquids. Bring one for water. One for hot chocolate. Without fail. Always.
3. Outdoor trousers
One for the ladies. Good fitting outdoor gear is HARD to come by if you’re a girl. Jeans aren’t ideal for walking. Gym leggings are often chilly and you may not be ready to go full camel toe on your first date. Traditional outdoor trousers can feel a little ‘frumpy’, particular if you’re not used to wearing a baggy fit trouser.
I’ve just discovered Acai Outdoor Wear; they specialise in skinny fit outdoor trousers. They’re quick drying, stretchy and shower proof. I’m yet to try them myself, but they’re definitely on the Christmas list.