Isle of Purbeck and East Dorset

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Join us on this "Get Active" weekend break in this magnificent landscape, with our social relaxed approach.

The Purbeck Hills are one of the finest landscape features in Dorset. They extend from the much eroded chalk formations of Handfast Point in the east for some fifteen miles towards the blue waters and crumpled limestone cliffs of Lulworth Cove in the West. They form part of the Jurassic World Heritage coast, famed for its fossil record spanning three geological eras, with many fossilised sea creatures and dinosaur footprints still visible from the footpaths today. The picturesque Purbeck villages are still some of the last unspoilt survivors of the creeping urbanisation of the south, built from the same Purbeck stone that were used to create venerable building like Westminster Abbey. History is with us everywhere, from iron age forts and bronze age burial mounds to Norman churches, medieval castles and C18 pubs and villages. Purbeck is also home to rare species of flora and fauna that are only found in this part of the world.




Accommodation and food

This holiday uses the Springfield Country Hotel and  Spa, near Wareham, Dorset. THE HOTEL HAS THE BENEFITS OF A SPA FOR YOUR USE


The Springfield Country Hotel takes great pride in being a family owned country hotel with its own outstanding professional management team. Together they provide the highest possible standard of hospitality service and aim always to exceed the expectations of their discerning clientele.

Menus offer a quality and diversity that is rarely found in establishments of this type and size.

Accommodation is provided on Friday and Saturday nights with dinner each night.

If tou wish to reserve an extra night on Sunday- please reserve it on line

Lunch will be taken at one of Dorset's lovely country pubs or cafes.

Getting to Wareham

From London

M25/M3 forWinchester/Southampton

A350 Poole then A351 to Wareham

From the North West

M6 south/M5 south/M42/M40 for London

A 34 Newbury and Southampton, then A350 Poole then A351 to Wareham

From North East

M1 south to Leicester/M69 Coventry/M40 then A 34 Newbury and Southampton, then A350 Poole then A351 to Wareham









Guided walking programme

Two and half days walking in the lovely countryside of the Isle of Purbeck..

Walking is moderate - few major climbs, and we cover 9/10 miles a day. 

Our first walk is on Friday afternoon starting at 2.30pm, a two hour "get to know you "walk, with a cuppa at the end.  If you cannot make that walk, then we meet on Friday evenings, at 7.00 pm, for a three course dinner and a discussion on what we are doing during the weekend.  Each weekend’s walking has a different theme, to fit into the time of year, or events going on in the area. Dress code is smart casual.

Walking starts on  Friday  afternoons at  2.30pm from hotel reception

Walking on Saturday and Sunday

Walking finishes on Sunday afternoon at 4.00pm

If you have booked an additional nights accommodation, note there is no walk on the Monday.

Walking - Grades and difficulty
We walk between 8 and 10 miles per day.  We walk at a steady pace, we don’t rush.  We want you to enjoy our lovely scenery - these hills and valleys  are a walkers paradise with good paths and an ever changing landscape.

There are hills to ascend  - we go up to a maximum of 200 metres over two miles of walking, but the climbing is gradual and we won’t rush. What’s the point of huffing and puffing, being exhausted then not being able to enjoy this fabulous land.  Descending is not precarious, and is gentle in relationship to many walking areas.

The Purbeck hills androlling countryside willl enchant you  - and is a land of ever changing vista’s - on any walk we get four or five different landscapes to enjoy.   Walking boots or shoes are obligatory, and many walkers find a walking pole useful, especially on the downhills.  You will also need wet weather gear—generally we have a mild climate, lovely springs and mild autumns.and winter walking too is outstanding in theses secret hills. When we send you your joining details a set of walking routes will be included

The weekends walks planned

Friday afternoon - walk along the clifftops to the curious chalk formations of Old Harry Rocks and look across to the vast sands of the Studland Bay nature reserve. Enjoy afternoon drinks at the historic Banks Arms pub.

Saturday - Travel to Worth Matravers, visit secluded quarries and smugglers dens along the dramatic windswept cliffs of Winspit and Dancing Ledge. Lunch in the unspoilt village of Worth Matravers. After take the Purbeck Way inland and take tea close to the iconic landmark of Corfe Castle.

Sunday - Travel to the world famous rock arch of Durdle Door, then hike to the blue waters of Lulworth Cove for lunch, along the cliffs of the Jurassic coast. In the afternoon take a loop around the unspoilt heaths of the military range past a fossilised forest and secluded smugglers cove to finish back at Lulworth Cove for a cuppa.


Meet New Friends

Its all about meeting new friends. Each holiday is designed to be a friendly, relaxed and stress free occasion. Talking is as important as walking or discovering on Short Breaks for Single Travellers holidays. We don't go in for disco's, we may use an event that is taking place in the area we are in to boost the weekends activities - but its good, old fashioned chat that makes our short breaks successful.

"Make new friends that turn into old friends - that's our motto."

You might be surprised by what fun you’ll have with people who are older or younger than you during a holiday with us, and that’s exactly the sort of atmosphere we encourage; people find it very rewarding.

It doesn’t matter what your reasons for traveling with us are, we’ve had people who are single, divorced or widowed, people who have partners that are unable to travel, and people who can’t holiday with their friends anymore as they’ve all got married themselves. There are people who want to make friends, see sights, and experience something completely new. Whatever your reason, we’ll welcome you with open arms and our friendly hosts will help you to get the most out of your holiday.

Don't worry if this is the first time you have ventured to join a group holiday - its always a bit daunting - but we will look after you, ensure that you get used to being amongst friends again - trust us to to get you back into the swing of things"

Oh - by the way - its not a dating agency - over the years we have had people meet and fall in love - but that's just chance. Our aim is that you make like minded friends - just relax and enjoy.

Just arrive and enjoy.

Holidays Highlights

- Superb walking in the iconic countryside- including Durdle Door/Lulworth Cove and Corfe Castle

- The wonderful Jurassic Coast

- Lovely country house hotel

 - Enjoy the Spa facilities at the hotel inclluding   - Outdoor pool/ Indoor pool/Jacuzzi/Suana/Gym

- No Single Supplement

- Our relaxed social way of organisng your holiday



Spa facilities available

We are pleased to offer you as part of this weekend package all the spa facilities available.


These include

- Outdoor pool

- Indoor pool




And many treatments - if you have the time.




Great reasons to join us

There are other walking holiday companies that cover the Purbeck Hills but we believe we offer the best value for many reasons….

  • We are a small friendly company
  • We have a loyal customer base who return again and again (so we must be doing something right) – read our testimonials page on the website
  • We offer a lot of flexibility – you can stay extra nights which we are happy to organise for you. We are also very flexible on the walks we provide, adapting to suit walkers and weather conditions
  • Our walk leading is second to none. Unlike some other large Walking Companies, we use LOCAL leaders who live in the area and who love their surroundings. They have expert knowledge of everything you need to know to make an area come alive.
  • You are safe in our hands – our guides are experts, fully qualified in first aid. Also, because of their local knowledge of the hills, they can respond to any situation that might for example demand cutting short a route. They don’t need to consult maps – they know the hills intimately.
  • Our leaders are all easy-going, genuinely sociable people who want to ensure that you have the best time you can with the rest of the group. They make the weekend fun by engaging with all members of a group, and ensuring that everyone feels part of the group experience.
  • We give great value for money. Because we recognise that lots of walkers holiday on their own, we have negotiated no single supplement deals with all our hotels to ensure the best possible deal.
  • We always use good hotels. Our hotel in Wareham is set in lovely surroundings  and the standard is really good.
  • We have smaller groups than some of the larger walking companies, because we believe the social experience is much better in a smaller group. People can talk to everyone, especially at dinner where you can all sit on one table in a small group. Our numbers vary from holiday to holiday but an average group size would be 8-12.

What's included

What you get on a Secret Hills break

  • Hotel bed and breakfast– en suite
  • Sole occupancy
  • Three course dinner
  • Lunch
  • Personal service
  • Expert guiding
  • All administration needed to ensure your holiday goes well
  • Transport to walks start and from finish
  • Flexibility
  • No single supplement
  • A social, relaxed approach
  • Use of spa facilities

The local area

Purbeck is a district of Dorset that takes its name from the peninsula known locally as the 'Isle of Purbeck'. This sixty square mile chunk of land jutting into the English Channel is bordered on three sides by water and, although not actually an island, has an insular character which is largely due to its geography.AA

A ridge of chalk from the Cretaceous period known as the Purbeck Hills runs along the peninsula from Ballard Down, a National Trust nature reserve north of Swanage, managed for its calcareous grassland habitat, through Corfe Castle and almost to East Lulworth, a hamlet consisting of 17th century thatched cottages. East Lulworth is relatively low-lying due to a break in the cliff that occurs at Arish Mell, while to the north is Luckford Lake, a small stream feeding into the River Frome, which in turn runs into Poole Harbour. In the past the low-lying land would have been very boggy and difficult to cross in winter, hence the 'Isle' of Purbeck.

The first settlement in the area would have been at Wareham. Easily reached by road and rail, today’s town forms an ideal base for exploring the Purbeck coast. Wareham’s accessibility attracted regular raids throughout history, especially from the Vikings, and it was eventually captured by King Canute in 1016. Raised earthen walls were built around the town for protection and today these walls are a haven for wildlife and enclose a thriving market town with a Saxon street plan and more than 200 buildings of historic and architectural interest.

Corfe Castle

The nearby Corfe Castle represents another attempt to defend the area from marauding armies. Built in a gap in the Purbeck Hills this ruined castle dates back to the 11th century. It is now owned by the National Trust, who are currently attempting to restore it. The village of Corfe Castle, built in the gap below the ruins, is a picturesque affair and attracts many visitors each year.

The Purbeck coastline is part of the ninety-five mile stretch known as the 'Jurassic Coast', named England’s first natural world heritage site in 2002 because of the unique insight it offers into 185 million years of the Earth’s history. The Purbeck Beds are an internationally important record of the evolution of mammals at the beginning of the Cretaceous period, and a total of more than 100 different vertebrate species have been identified from fossils. The Purbeck limestones are also famous for dinosaur tracks, the most significant of which are at Keat’s Quarry, where footprints more than a metre in diameter were discovered in 1986.

A large part of the district is now designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), but a portion of the coast around Worbarrow Bay and the ghost village of Tyneham is still, after nearly 60 years, in the possession of the Ministry of Defence who use it as a training area. Lulworth Ranges are part of the Armoured Fighting Vehicles Gunnery School at Lulworth Camp

What our clients had to say

Jackie Russell -  Isle of Purbeck, October 2019.
The Hotel was extremely good, comfortable room, good food and the spa was brilliant. Lou was a fantastic guide with great knowledge of the area, she looked after us well making a very wet weekend very enjoyable.
Sylvia Barnfather - Isle of Purbeck, October 2019.
An enjoyable weekend of walking despite the weather. The hotel was very comfortable, friendly staff. Lou was a good leader, helped us when needed, gave us interesting information en route. She also gave us different options on walking routes and places for lunch.
Tina Bloch - Isle of Purbeck, October 2019.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 As ever, the booking process  was very easy and clear. Our select party of three plus our guide, Lou, had a great weekend despite despite rain for all except for 3 hours. 
Lou adapted walks to suit conditions and account for our group preference to walk for longer in the  morning and shorter after lunch, Lou kept us safe in the slippery conditions.
The hotel was very grand and I had a lovely room. The breakfast and dinners were both very nice and  tasty. Having the spa was a lovely bonus.
All in all, another great holiday with Secret Hills .

Sue Wilson  -  Isle of Purbeck May 2019.
My friend has attended your holidays and suggested that I join her on this one.  Pre-holiday information good, gave guidance on what should take as a novice which was helpful. Good accommodation and facilities, especially pool as I swim regularly.
Informative and very approachable/knowledgeable leader. Good organisation,
saw variety of places, lunch venues booked so no time wasted trying to find somewhere. I would consider booking another holiday and recommend it to friends/colleagues.
Rosemary Robinson - Isle of Purbeck  May 2019.
Pre-holiday information was very comprehensive – told me everything I needed to know.
Hotel was very good.  It was useful to have the swimming pool/spa facilities available after a day’s walking. Very much enjoyed guided walking experience. Our guide (Lou) was very knowledgeable and gave us lots of interesting information during the walks.  She was also very calm and organised.  The other walkers were friendly and sociable. Organisation was excellent.
Would you reserve another holiday with Secret Hills Walking.
Rose Harvie - Isle of Purbeck May 2019.
Excellent reservation procedure - I just ring you up to book! Very well organized. Leader changed walks to suit our abilities - in other words, missed out a steep hill. Lunch stops were excellent, reserved tables. The hotel was also very good, bedrooms good, menu choice good and the taxi firm used was accommodating, cheerful drivers. I particularly like the cafe/pub lunches, very civilised. Well done!
I have already booked another weekend with you.

Clifford Strover - The Purbeck Hils October 2018

I have been on a number of walking weekends in the UK with Secret Hills. The important thing is the weekends are not just about the distance covered and the time taken, social interaction and the accommodation is just important as the walks themselves. The walks are not excessively long and time is given to admire the scenery, take photos and get to know the other walkers. The groups are normally around about 6 to 8 in number, which makes mixing comfortable and easy. A delightful aspect to the weekends is encountering other regular walkers with Secret Hills and catching up with them.

                The Purbeck Hills weekend combines some really classy walks with, on each walk, an interest surprise along with a well-chosen lunch spot. The walks cover not just the coastal features but take in the geology of the Jurassic Coast as well, something which provides a surprise each day. The highlight would have to be the Sunday walk, starting at the must see Durdle Door with lunch on the shore of the picturesque Lulworth Cove. The path then travels along the coast besides the impressive fossil forest, little imagination is needed to spot the fossilised tree trunks, the walk then turns inland. Note there is a very steep sided climb at this point, however the guides are all very accommodating and an alternative route is available. The guides would be more than happy to split the group if requested.  Saturdays walk included lunch at a very idiosyncratic café with a wonderfully eclectic mix of tableware – nobody had the same plate, cup, glass etc. As for the rest of the walks and surprises well there’s no better way than experiencing them for yourself !

                The hotel was modern and featured large rooms. The rooms were quiet, even though there was a wedding reception on the same weekend. The food was stunningly well presented. There is a reasonable choice of vegetarian meals with sufficient variation for a weekend. The hotel’s facilities featuring a decent-sized indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna were open at no extra cost. The hotel is easily accessible with a very large car park and is set in spacious grounds



"Isle of Purbeck October 2018 Nice hotel, especially the private dining room. Food was good. Lou is very good "

- Tim Mills - October 2018


"Isle of Purbeck October 2018 Very good, Lou Stone is an excellent guide"

- Martin Ford - October 2018


"Isle of Purbeck October 2018 The hotel was a little old-fashioned but comfortable. The staff were helpful and friendly. The feed wasn’t great. I enjoyed the weekend very much indeed. The scenery was stunning and varied and Lou (aided by Suzie) was a really excellent guide. Another great holiday with Secret Hills. Well organised and led holidays with a personal touch. "

- Martine Gallie - October 2018

"Isle of Purbeck October 2018 Fantastic experience, lovely walks. The guides Lou and Suzi were also fantastic, really experienced and great social skills. Couldn’t fault the experience. Great stops at the tea room and Ship and Compass in Matravers Lovely hotel. Food pretty good, dinner not as great as the menu description, though "

- Mary O'Sullivan - October 2018


Michael Keats Purbeck May 2018

Excellent hotel, meals and swimming pool, Lou and Suzi were perfect walk leaders.


Dr Helen Liebling Purbeck May 2018

The hotel was fabulous very friendly with comfortable rooms with good views of the gardens and a great pool and spa. The meals were good too.

The walk leaders were very knowledgeable and organised. They gave interesting information regarding the local area and adapted the walk pace to suit all on the holiday


Joanne Metcalf  Purbeck May 2018

Thanks to everyone for making last weekend such a success and so enjoyable, particularly Lou and Suzi for their guiding, local knowledge (historical and geological) and for being all round lovely people! 


Clifford Strover Purbeck May 2018

 The food was very good, the rooms were a good size. It was quiet, and the car parking was generous. The use of the pool etc. was very good.

The guides were both friendly and very knowledgeable about the area and a wide range of subjects.  I would suggest having an alternative route on the Sunday since one of the hills was very steep and, experience from previous holidays suggests that this may be an issue for some walkers. (To be fair Lou did listen to this comment and look at alternative routes.) Otherwise the routes were excellent and covered the must-see items of Lulworth Cove and the Durdle Door. 


Carol Long Purbeck May 2018

Hi Lou & Suzi


Massive thank you for a great weekend. Very enjoyable and well organised.

I managed far more than I thought I could, that was down to your encouragement and support.  

It was a great group to be part of and they helped me to achieve so much.


Hope to do another trip.


Mike Keats Purbeck May 2018


Just to say how much I enjoyed this weekend in East Dorset. Lou and Suzi were excellent leaders and we really appreciated their wealth of knowledge for this area of Dorset.

The walks were ideal, covering the popular tourist spots and off the beaten tracks too.

Springfield Hotel was an excellent choice - good location, food, well-appointed rooms and a swimming pool too! We were well looked after by the hotel staff.


Thanks to Lou and Suzi for making this a great weekend and for being so attentive to all our needs!


Hope to join the South Downs walk later in the year.






How to book your holiday

How to book a UK guided walking holiday AND holidays in France, Algarve, Douro Valley  and Ireland

To reserve a place on any of our holidays, please follow these simple instructions.

Reserve online  - once you have chosen your holiday, click on the booking button and complete the online form
OR  contact us by phone or email, and we will send by post or email, a booking form to you
OR  you can call us direct on 01694 723600, and we will take your reservation over the phone. Please note we cannot take credit/debit card details over the phone; you can, however, post us a cheque. Alternatively, you can pay via the Pay Pal system attached to our website, which allows you to pay either by debit/credit card, or by using your Paypal account if you have one.

We will also accept a Bank Transfer and on request we will supply our bank details to you.

It is important that you read the terms and conditions before you sign the booking form.

Note - if you are reserving a holiday within a month of the start date then the full amount is due immediately and no deposit should be paid.


Secret Hills Walking, 35, Sandford Avenue, Church Stretton, Shropshire, SY6 6BH

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You matter to us & we promise to provide you with a superb walking & social holiday, tailored specifically to your needs. We provide walking holidays for walkers & as walkers ourselves, we appreciate & understand the requirements of a walking holiday.

What Others Said...

Really enjoyable. Sue and Paul were great Leaders. The walks took us through some really beautiful places, and were quite a challenge for a novice like me – my aching legs were testament to this, but I felt I’d achieved something. The lunch stops and evenings were well organized. Leaders were very knowledgeable about the walks and points of interest. I had a really great time. The people in the group were particularly easy to get along with. Thanks for a great experience.

Sarah Melton