One of the most beautiful seasons to walk in the countryside is autumn. The warmth of magnificent autumn colours...
As a busy mum of two very active little boys I often spend my weekends exploring the wilds of Dorset, it gets the kids out into the fresh country air and gives us a chance to recharge. As a Londoner who moved to the countryside I am still amazed and inspired by the beauty Dorset has to offer, and I always feel as if these day trips are like a mini break that I wish could last a little longer. So on Saturday, we packed our wellies, obligatory snacks and thermos of coffee and headed to Arne, nestled in the Purbecks, it is a region of Dorset we had never visited before, but will definitely be back again.
The first thing to greet you at the RSPB reserve in Arne is the birdsong, it is breath-taking and it is constant. You can head over to the information hut where you will find out all about the types of species that live on the reserve, and you could easily spend the rest of your day watching all the different birds come to feed on the nearby trees, for little ones there is a nature trail with items they have to spot along the way, this ensures they actually walk the trail with minimal groaning.
With several different pathways to choose from you can see as little or as much or the reserve as you want, and with many paths suitable for buggies, wheelchairs and little legs alike it is a day our for everyone.
Being optimistic we decided on the longest trail, with plans to stop for snacks and take in the views we headed out in the unseasonably warm and sunny February light looking for deer, birds, flowers and trees to tick off our nature trail list, all to be walked at a leisurely pace, (well as leisurely as you can with two boys who have one speed!) in under 2 hours.
Heading passed the café (where we rewarded ourselves with Purbeck Icecream by the end of the day) we were straight into open countryside, surrounded by yellow flowering gorse, with my youngest son fascinated with the many different cows in the nearby field and my eldest son delighted at the options for trees to climb, we strolled towards the lagoon and natural harbour.
The reserve is home to many native species, from Silka deer, sand lizards, slow worms and spoon bills, it is a haven for wildlife. At the salt marshes you may be as lucky as we were to glimpse the stag and his herd grazing. With a little effort we walked to the viewing platform to take in the whole of the habitat. The views were stunning, with panoramic views of Brownsea Island, Long Island and Poole Harbour on one side and the mudflats, rolling hills and ancient woodland to the other.
The landscape drops down into a natural harbour, hidden by trees, you feel as if you are on your very own island, with still waters, its safe enough to paddle or splash in wellies, and the pebbles are perfect for skimming.
Turning back towards the information centre we walked through ancient oak woodland, squelching through mud and finding the best sticks to turn in to ‘magic wands’, with trees to climb and birds to spot, thoughtfully placed seating allows you to take in the jaw dropping views over the moorland, this was by far my favourite part of the trail.
With tired by happy kids in tow, we made our way to the café, with a quick pocket money spend in the gift shop and a pit stop for ice cream, we headed back home along the meandering roads, admiring the ever-changing scenery.
Arne is set in the beautiful Purbecks, with Wareham and Corfe the nearest town and village, the stunning Stundland coastline just a short drive away. You can find a selection of our East Dorset cottages here.