Breathtaking views, shimmering water, pebbles strewn with prehistoric fossils and dark imposing cliffs are some of the ingredients that make up the splendor of Chapman’s Pools. This stunning geological site has endured millions of years of erosion, both from the sea and from the rain, that has created a dramatic, yet peaceful location where locals and tourists alike can bask in this unspoiled natural beauty.
There are multiple routes that one can take to arrive at Chapman’s Pool, however the most popular, and possibly the easiest way, is by walking from the car park in the picturesque little village of Worth Matravers, found in Dorset, that takes you along a nice walk down the 400ft descend down to the natural cove itself. The walk is perfect for photographers and nature enthusiasts as one can encounter a diverse amount of insects, lizards as well as migrating birds that find shelter in the surrounding bushes that outline the coast.
It is important to note that the walk down can be quite challenging, even on the sunniest of days, due to the uneven steps, slippery pebbles and the occasional landslides that help to expose the thousand-year-old fossils that make this spot so popular. The path is untouched for the most part, apart from small wooden steps that have been added to make the passage down slightly easier to maneuver, especially during the rainy season. Wearing walking or trekking shoes would be the best option when visiting Chapman’s Pool to make sure your descent is safe and pleasant.
As you head towards the Purbeck Way, through a secluded wooded area that is full of birdlife, you will come across a steep set of stairs that lead to the stunning view below that has been carved out naturally where the stream meets the sea. Here you can also spot the coast guard station along with some cottages that would be every nature lover’s dream home.
As you make your way down, you might come across St Paul’s Helm Chapel which has quite some unusual features. Many believe this chapel was in fact originally built to serve as a watchtower for Corfe Castle that is found nearby. It is a windowless square structure with a large central column. Unlike most chapels, this one does not have an Alter inside however it is a peaceful place ideal for some quiet time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. This Chapel was completed in 1261 and it’s beautifully arched ceilings have survived countless storms and it is still standing strong to this day. This chapel is one of the few manmade structures that you can see along this path.
This area is completely void of facilities so make sure you pack up a light lunch that you can carry with you as you go down and up the steep staircases. Since this location is relatively unknown and is considered to be a local secret, the walk down is not suitable for those who use a wheelchair or walking aides. The same can be said for strollers, so it is not an ideal outing for families with your children. This does not mean that they cannot enjoy the beautiful views of Chapman’s Pool from the top of the cliffs though.
The cove itself is surrounded by dark, almost black, cliffs that house thousands of fossils from the Jurassic Era. Since the walk down is quite tiring, it is very often void of people so there is a big chance that you will have Chapman’s Pool all to yourself. If you happen to have your swimming gear, and the weather permits it, you can take a dip in the water however be aware of the tides and any weather changes that may make swimming quite difficult.
For those that enjoy fishing, this place can offer a lovely, peaceful location to spend some time practicing your hobby. In fact, on the left side of the cove one can see a number of small fisherman’s huts that have steep slipways that are used to take the boats down into the water. On sunny days, boats and canoes can be seen floating lazily on the water which is also a great way to get a look at this majestic cove from a different angle than it is usually seen from.
If you enjoy being around nature in all its rawness and grandeur, grab your map and your trekking shoes and make your way down to this beautiful spot. Remember to take with you light snacks and drinks to keep yourself hydrated as you will not find facilities where you can purchase things, which is one of the reasons why this location has remained the same, apart from the changes brought about by nature itself, for thousands of years.