Walks around Swanage & Purbeck

Swanage is the eastern gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Take a ferry across from Poole Harbour to Studland or let the train take the strain to reach the lovely Isle of Purbeck. This area is rich in cultural and geological history. From the stunning white cliffs near Old Harry Rocks to Iron Age Forts and the beautiful Corfe Castle there is so much to explore and experience. These are a selection of our favourite local walks. A mixture of shorter walks and longer more challenging routes. 

  • Chapman's Pool from Worth Matravers - 5.7 miles (9.2 km)

    Towards Chapman Pool. Photographer Deborah Sheppard, Thatcham.
    Moderate

    A breathtaking walk around a limestone coastline carved into dramatic caves and platforms by millions of years of erosion by the sea, and hundreds of years of human quarrying. From prehistoric times humans have lived here and exploited the cliffs and coves for a wide variety of purposes, ranging from prehistoric tools and burials through mediaeval farming to nineteenth century smuggling. Children will love Chapman's Pool, a wonderfully wild beach where the stream joins the sea from a plunging ravine carved through high cliffs...

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  • Corfe Castle to Swanage - 12.2 miles (19.6 km)

    Chapman's Pool  with views over Egmont Point. Photographer Andy Wills, Poole.
    Challenging

    Walk to Swanage and take a train back to Corfe Castle. A challenging hike through a dramatic landscape rich in history, on paths and tracks that have been used by feet and wheels for many thousands of years. From the earliest days of life on earth, dinosaur footprints have been found here; while evidence of human habitation dates back to almost as far as the end of the last Ice Age. Travelling around the edges of a white landscape scarred from extensive quarrying, the route...

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  • Dancing Ledge and Langton Matravers - 4.7 miles (7.6 km)

    Priests Way  in the sun
    Challenging

    A pastoral route taking in hay meadows and flower-filled chalk grasslands, with the possibility of seeing puffins, bats and even dolphins. The steep cliffs have been hollowed out through extensive quarrying of the famous Purbeck limestone, shot through in places with important fossils, and the route follows ancient lanes through crumbling stone boundaries dating back hundreds of years. An especially good walk in spring.

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  • Durlston Country Park's Clifftop Trail - 1.0 miles (1.6 km)

    Old Harry & Bournemouth. Photographer Mark V Pike (2013 Photo Competition entry)
    Easy

    A short clifftop walk through Durlston Country Park, a National Nature Reserve featuring a range of important habitats, including seacliffs, limestone downland, woodland, haymeadows, dry stone walls and hedgerows, each of which is host to a wide diversity of wildlife. The Visitor Centre in Durlston Castle has displays and lists of recent wildlife sightings, as well as live pictures from the seabird colony on the cliffs and sound from an underwater hydrophone. Listen out for dolphins and porpoises in the waters below!

    This walk is...

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  • St Aldhelm's Chapel - 2.8 miles (4.5 km)

    Towards Chapman Pool. Photographer Deborah Sheppard, Thatcham.
    Easy

    A mostly gentle stroll on the high plateau of land above St Aldhelm's Head on the Isle of Purbeck, visiting the thirteenth century chapel on the headland and the Coastwatch lookout beside it. St Aldhelm was a seventh-century Bishop of Sherborne with a habit of singing his sermons in order to draw in a reluctant congregation, but the history of the area stretches from long before his time and there are Bronze Age barrows on the high ground. There are also tremendous coastal views...

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  • Studland Village to Old Harry - 3.8 miles (6.0 km)

    Old Harry Rocks, Dorset Photographer Chris Parker (2013 Photo Competition entry)
    Moderate

    A moderate stroll, with some long but gentle climbs and descents, around the spectacular chalk stacks off  Handfast Point at Studland. The same sea that carved the soft rock into caves and arches also polished the vertical cliffs to a dazzling white and there are far-ranging views over Swanage in one direction and Wareham and Bournemouth in the other. This is a particularly good walk on a fine spring day, when the vast area of blue sea shimmers under the bright sky and newly-awakened butterflies...

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