The Downs is a large area of grassland that can be found behind the Price Albert Gardens, they are kept and maintained to a high standard by the Swanage Town Council. The are is open 24 hours a day for your enjoyment. You are able to get some spectacular views of the Swanage seafront from the park as well as views of Durlston Bay. The Downs are a perfect place to watch the carnival firework displays as it has views across the Purbeck hills, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight.
The Downs are noted for providing evidence of prehistoric occupation. Some of the noteworthy findings include figures of horses carved out of turf; ridge and scarp-foot trackways that highlight megalithic monuments. These can be seen in Avebury and Stonehenge in Wiltshire. Also to be seen are numerous burial mounds (also known as barrows); and defensive earthworks. Ring encampments are also present and can be viewed in locations such as the Maiden Castle in Dorset.
Characteristics of the Downs include bare and rounded summits. In uncultivated areas, visitors will notice springy turfs of fescue grass with distinctive vegetation. A variety of rare orchids grow in the area, making their home with many indigenous snails and insects. The invention of mechanical plows has made it possible to cultivate all but the steepest of slopes in the area. Many downs crops or manured leas have begun to replace the turf and grassy areas upon which flocks of sheep grazed once upon a time.
The Downs offer a fantastic starting point for a number of walks that can take you down the 95 mile stretch of the Jurassic Coast which is part of the 630 mils long South West Coast Path National Trail. It should be noted that the east side of The Downs is a sheer cliff with no barriers, so anyone visiting that side of the fields should taker care and dogs should be kept of n a lead at all times.
Interesting Facts about The Downs
- In 1849 Prince Albert took a stroll in The Downs when the Royal Yacht stopped at Swanage. He praised the scenery and the fresh air there.
- The closes car park to The Downs is Broad Road or Broad Road (Pier) which are both within the land that The Downs is based on.
- Eastbourne’s Seven Sisters Country Park includes a series of chalk cliffs that reach 525 feet in height at their peak.
- Hastings has worked to preserve its ancient fishing port and wooden huts. The huts were previously used as net-drying racks on the beach.
- The main areas of chalk downs lie in Berkshire, Wiltshire, and northern Hampshire. Spurs run to the east, extending into West Sussex, Surrey, and Kent.
- Chalk hills of similar structure are referred to as Wolds and are located in Lincolnshire and in Yorkshire.
- Due to the porous nature of chalk, the Downs’ summits are typically dry in summer months.