Walk - Swanage Coastal Park -Priests Way

3.0 miles (4.8 km)

Swanage Coastal Park Worth Matravers

Easy - There are some stretches of ascent and descent, but generally the going is easy.

A stroll along tracks and hedges known as the Priest’s Way, past the kiln where limestone was made into lime to reduce acidity in the farmland, finishing at one of Dorset’s famous pubs.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Tom's Field, Langton Matravers

Traditional. rural camping in beautiful Isle of Purbeck. Just 20 mins walk from South West Coast Path and Dancing Ledge.

Chiltern Lodge, Worth Matravers

Chiltern Lodge is a detached house in Dorset's Worth Matravers, ideal for coast walks or lazing in the garden. Relax, rejuvenate and re-capture life in the slow lane. Wifi offered.

Wyke Dorset Cottages, Swanage

Based in Swanage, and with over 75 cottages throughout Dorset in popular locations including Swanage, Beaminster, Studland and Arne. Book online today!

Allnatt Stop and Stay, Swanage

The Chatsworth and The Eversden are a stones throw from Swanage Bay offering Self Catering in Swanage-perfect for discovering the South West Coast Path.

Alford House B&B

Very friendly B&B situated in a beautiful village. We can pick up/drop off to the path.

Knoll House Hotel - LFH

Established 1931, a traditional Dorset hotel with sea views that stretch out over Studland Beach. A family & dog-friendly hotel steeped in history, set in 4 acres. The perfect place to stop for a bite of lunch or relaxing overnight stay.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Jurassic Coast Walking

We offer bespoke tailored walking holidays for individuals, couples or small groups in Purbeck. Walks can be guided, self-guided or a mixture of both.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. Exit Swanage Coastal Park, walking down the road, take the turning on the left hand side, signed Priests Way. Keep on the Priest Way until you reach Worth Matravers. Initially follow signs for Dancing Ledge and Worth.

The Priest's Way follows an old track, winding its way to Swanage, which was the route taken by the local priest as he trudged back and forth between his church in Worth Matravers and the other church in his care in Swanage.

If you wish to extend your walk, before the path to Dancing Ledge you can see a path leading to Spyway Barn on your left and to Langton House in the opposite direction. Spyway Barn, was bought by the National Trust in the early 1990's. The barn has a display room highlighting local wildlife. The fields below are managed as traditional hay meadows with no fertilizers or chemicals which ensure a plentiful supply of food for birds and bats.

  1. By turning left off the Priest's Way you will be able to follow the path to Dancing Ledge. Dancing Ledge was one of many local quarries used to provide high-quality limestone for building (see the Dancing Ledge Walk). There is a small swimming pool cut into the rock by the quarrymen at the start of the twentieth century, so that local schoolchildren could swim here.
  2. Continue on the Priest's Way passing the limestone quarries.

These quarries around Purbeck are important to geologists, because many of them show how the layers of limestone were laid down. The Swanworth Quarries, just to the north of Worth Matravers, show the most complete section of the different rocks on the Isle of Purbeck, from the Portland Sand on the quarry floor, to the Lower Purbeck Beds at the top (see the Corfe Castle Walk).

As a part of its role as land owner, the National Trust is also involved in the future of the quarries around Acton. Some of these are nearing the end of their useful lives, but there is still plenty of the valuable Purbeck limestone around them, so the Trust plans to infill the old quarries and reseed them with grass as it opens new ones, preserving the landscape while continuing to provide stone for building projects. It is also paying attention to the preservation of wildlife.

A small pond near the Priest's Way is home to a population of rare great-crested newts, and there are equally rare greater horseshoe bats in the old quarries.

Also being preserved in the local area are another famous and fascinating feature revealed as a result of quarrying: fossilised dinosaur footprints! Most of these are of Megalosaurus and Iguanodon (both small fry at around 10 metres long), but at nearby Keat's Quarry, footprints were found which were a metre in diameter themselves, belonging to a 30-metre, 30-ton Diplodocus.

Eastington is a seventeenth century farmhouse built from the local limestone, and it is a Grade II listed building which is now owned by the National Trust, as is much of the area around here. The Trust manages the land with a particular interest in both nature conservation and archaeology, and it is grazed traditionally using sheep and cattle, and without the use of fertilisers. As a result, typical limestone plants thrive here, which in its turn encourages a rich variety of butterflies and insects.

  1. After Eastington Farm follow the left hand fork heading to the left-hand corner of the next field. After the second of the two fields, go over the stile onto the road, turn left and carry on downhill into Worth Matravers.

The Square and Compass dates back to 1752 as an inn, and has been in the same family for over 100 years. There is a fossil museum in the pub, including some dinosaur fossils, as well as other fascinating artefacts from local history: prehistoric tools, Roman coins, bits of 18th century shipwrecks, and agricultural curiosities like cow cake cutters and turnip crunchers.

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