Nature Things to do

The Downs

The open, clifftop grasslands of The Downs are just a stone’s throw from Swanage town and give some of the best views across Swanage Bay.

The Downs is popular with local dog walkers for its open space and exceptional views over Swanage and across the bay toward Ballard Down and Old Harry Rocks, as well as across Durlston Bay toward Durlston Head.

Walkers' signpost to Durlston, Swanage and Peveril Point
Access Peveril Point, Swanage Bay & town, and Durlston Country Park from The Downs

Located at the southern end of Swanage, just behind Prince Albert Gardens, with its amphitheatre and handy proximity to Swanage’s restored Victorian pier, the grassy hills of The Downs and its dramatic cliffs give you a sense of the wild and tranquility, just moments from the bustling town.

Both locals and visitors use The Downs as a spot to watch the sun setting over the bay with some fish and chips, and as a fantastic spot to view the annual fireworks of Swanage Carnival, held annually in the summer.

You can also walk from The Downs over the hills to Durlston Country Park in under half an hour by following the South West Coast Path. The Downs are also another way to reach Peveril Point – the most southerly point of Swanage Bay.

The Downs and its nearby cliff walks, bays and country park are home to a wealth of wildlife – from seabirds nesting in the cliffs to dolphins, sunfish and seals which can often be spotted in the sea from the clifftop walks here.

Safety information

Cliff danger warning sign at the downs in Swanage

As with all areas of exposed coastal walks, you should keep well away from the edge of the cliff up here, which has a sheer drop in some areas and is unfenced.

It’s also advisable to keep dogs on a short lead.

In case of an emergency, call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

Exploring The Downs

Whether you’re going for a stroll, taking the scenic route to Durlston, or simply climbing the hill to sit and watch the view, The Downs is a lovely spot to be out in a vast green space just moments from Swanage town.

How to get to The Downs

Take a stroll through town toward the pier and Peveril Point, and walk up through Prince Albert Gardens, cross the road by the car park and you will be in The Downs.

Alternatively, park at Broad Road car park for ease – you can walk straight up into The Downs from here. (For your SatNav: BH19 2AP)

Google Maps

The Downs – holiday accommodation

There are many B&Bs, holiday lets and hotels in and around Swanage that are popular with visitors returning to Dorset year-on-year.

One self-catering option has been named after The Downs, as it is located right next to it – walk from your accommodation across the downs to Swanage town and pier, or over to Durlston Country Park. Swanage Beach is only a few hundred metres from your door.

  • Sleeps five – Across two bedrooms and with two bathrooms
  • Living space – The open-plan lounge & kitchen and one of the bedrooms benefits from sea views
  • Accessibility – 3 The Downs has a ground-floor bedroom and bathroom

📍 3 The Downs, Seymer Road, BH19 2AL

Book through Wyke Cottages:

Nearby places with a view to remember

Swanage and Purbeck are rich with many spectacular vistas and sweeping seascapes.

Here are some of the most dramatic and memorable:

  • Durdle Door – Walk to Durdle Door from Lulworth Cove and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views back across Lulworth and down onto both Man’ O War Bay and Durdle Door
  • Old Harry Rocks – The famous chalk rock formation is a short walk from Studland or a slightly longer, but doable, walk from Swanage
  • Durlston Country Park – Set above Swanage town, Durlston has some of the most far-reaching views to be found in Purbeck from its clifftop walks
  • Purbeck Hills – The Purbeck Hills can be seen all around you on the Isle of Purbeck and offer endless hours of walks and exploration, all with fantastic views of the towns, villages, farmland and sea below
  • The Obelisk – A short hike up a steep hill in the Ulwell area of Swanage will bring you to The obelisk and its panoramic views over Studland Bay, Swanage Bay and the Isle of Wight. Ballard Down, where the obelisk is situated is part of the Purbeck Hills ridgeway