An Autumn Stroll on a Dorset Heath

On the Heath
Golden tones of autumn on a Dorset heathland

We have had some fantastic weather this autumn so far…….well, mixed with a bit of rubbish weather of course 🙂 ! Mind you, all weather is good because if we had wall to wall sunshine every day, we would only get bored 😉 !

This was a wall to wall sunshine day so I took off for a walk across some local heathland and the colours were awesome, helped of course by the low late afternoon sun that throws a beautiful warm cast over everything! Its not called the golden hour for nothing 🙂 !

Tracks Across the Heath
Paths across the heath – but do they go in the right direction?

Its hard to imagine that the whole of Dorset was once covered in this sort of heathland, as now there are just odd pockets of it dotted around. Much has either been tamed for farm land or has been built on which actually makes these oases even more special. Naturally, wildlife loves these open areas – as I was walking along the path above, I passed an adder just laying sunning itself. It was not huge so I suspect it was a young adder but he was camera shy and soon slithered off into the shrubbery.

Fern in the Spotlight
Spotlit and subtle autumn colours
Ferns Standing Proud
Ferns showing off their autumn plumage in the late afternoon sun

Of course, I can never resist taking pictures of back-lit ferns, with their delicate tracery of leaves, especially when that tracery takes on the golden shades of autumn. It seems almost as if they are saying, ‘Well heather, you’ve had your day as the stars of this heathland show, and now its our turn’! It won’t be long before their show will be over too and then maybe we might see a lovely carpet of snow 🙂 ! Yeah, right, this is Dorset, so not much chance of that!

On a Dorset Heath
‘Head for the hills’, but beware boggy ground 🙂 

The heathland may look open and inviting but there is always a need to have a care – there can be some pretty boggy ground out there. Plus of course, in the interests of protecting this habitat, we should always stick to the paths even if they don’t necessarily go where we want them to go. I wanted to ‘head for the hills’ but it took a circuitous route before I reached that point which, though not high, gave me at least a slightly raised vantage point.

The Misty Moors
A mist drifts across the heath

The wonderful thing about these remaining heathlands is that they are now well looked after because with the wiping out of much of it, what is left has become even more valuable. Part of that care of course is the use of cattle and ponies to keep the shrubbery pruned and flourishing. And they do a great job too.

Conservation Grazing
Conservation grazing

Well its been a delightful, if fairly short, stroll across this wonderful pocket of heathland. Thanks for joining me.

Thanks for stopping by!

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

All words and pictures in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and may not be reproduced without permission.



  1. Presumably it was the parliamentary acts of enclosure that wiped out so much heath ? about twenty years ago I heard a professor of agriculture say there were many elements of peasant farming left in Dorset, that may have been a vestige of commoning on the once extensive heaths maybe. Doubt many youngsters would stay on such smallholdings.

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