We are spoilt for choice in Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck with so many wonderful places to explore.
To make it easier for you to plan your visit we’ve broken up some of the best walks into handy categories, so you can find the right one for your day out.
For stunning scenery
Perfect for both shorter walks and packing a picnic and making a day of it, these special spots are a short drive from Swanage and boast some of the most beautiful views to be found in the South of England.
- Durdle Door – The walk to the iconic limestone arch, synonymous with Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, encompasses beautiful cliff walks and shingle beach. Nearest car park: BH20 5PU
- Lulworth Cove – This beautiful cove has various walking options, from a village stroll to a hike up to Durdle Door or exploring the cliff walks of the Lulworth Ranges. Park in West Lulworth: BH20 5RQ
- Old Harry Rocks – One of the Jurassic Coast‘s most famous landmarks is a gentle half-hour walk from Studland village. Park at South Beach Car Park: BH19 3AU
- Swyre Head – Despite being the highest point in Purbeck, the walk to Swyre Head is mostly flat. With breathtaking views across to Kimmeridge, glimpses of Corfe Castle nestled in between the Purbeck Hills. Nearest postcode: BH20 5LH
For unique moments to remember
- The Agglestone – This curious 400-tonne landmark sits in the middle of the heathland around Studland. Combine with a visit to one of the sandy beaches of Studland Bay. Park at Middle Beach car park: BH19 3AX
- Corfe Castle – Walk around the village of the same name, ramble around the surrounding common and explore the castle ruin for a day out packed with history. National Trust parking: BH20 5DR
- Tyneham village – This relatively remote ruined village, abandoned during World War Two also has a quiet beach nearby which you can walk to in around half an hour. Parking: BH20 5QN
For families with little ones
These walks are either children-oriented, or have everything you’d need on-hand, such as loos, refreshment options and safe walking trails.
- Corfe Castle Model Village – Visit Corfe Castle and its village in miniature and have stroll around its pretty gardens 📞 01929 481234 ℹ️ www.corfecastlemodelvillage.co.uk Park at West Street: BH20 5HH
- Durlston Country Park – Go for a circular clifftop walk and check out Durlston Castle, or continue on the South West Coast Path for a longer walk and excellent sea views. SatNav for the park: BH19 2JL
- Knoll Beach – Explore the sand dunes of Studland Bay, set back from the popular shore of Knoll Beach. Park at Knoll Beach car park: BH19 3AH
For following in dinosaurs’ footsteps
- Dinosaur footprints, Worth Matravers – Over 100 dinosaur fossilised footprints were unearthed at a quarry near the villages of Worth Matravers and Acton. There are various walking routes to this intriguing glimpse of Purbeck’s Jurassic past
- Kimmeridge Bay – Kimmeridge Bay is famed for its abundant fossils, many of which are permanently on display at the village’s museum. Parking is via a toll road: BH20 5PF
- Fossil Forest, Lulworth Ranges – Find intriguing fossilised tree stumps and roots from 150 million years ago in Lulworth. Park at Lulworth Cove: BH20 5RQ
For four-legged visitors
These dog-friendly walks will have tails wagging, noses sniffing, and owners discovering somewhere new in or around Swanage.
- The Downs – Just behind Swanage town, and overlooking the bay, this large grassland area gives you wide sea views and you can walk to Durlston from here. Park at Broad Road car park: BH19 2AP
- Purbeck Hills – The chalk ridgeway running across the Isle of Purbeck makes for fantastic walking with diverse views across the countryside. Popular walks start from Swanage or Corfe Castle: BH20 5EZ
- Wareham forest – Wareham Forest is popular with walkers and cyclists, with a range of waymarked routes. Park at the Sika Trail: BH20 7PE
Sometimes the best part about a walk is the cake-reward at the end. Luckily, Swanage and Purbeck have plenty of options for a walk-cake combo. Don’t forget to try a slice of locals’ favourite, Dorset apple cake, while you’re here.
- Swanage Beach and town – Work up an appetite with a bracing walk along Swanage beach before cosying up in one of the town’s coffee shops
- Wareham Walls – Take a historic stroll along the Wareham Walls which surround the pretty market town of Wareham before stopping at The Bear, The Old Granary, the Salt Pig or the Priory for a cup of Dorset Tea. Park at Streche Road: BH20 4QF
- Worth Matravers village – The village of Worth makes for a lovely ramble, but there are also various heartier hiking routes from here. For cake, try Worth Matravers Tea Room: 📞 01929 439368 ℹ️ www.worthmatraverstearoom.co.uk. Village car park: BH19 3LE
For real ale and local cider aficionados
Round off your ramble with a well-deserved pint of Purbeck’s best.
- Corfe Common – With four pubs in Corfe to choose from, as well as a small choice of licensed cafés and restaurants, most walking routes can easily be made to end with a pint of Piddle or Badger beer in your hand. West Street car park: BH20 5HH
- Studland – Park at South Beach car park (BH19 3AU) for a range of walks including South Beach itself, Old Harry Rocks, Studland village and Studland Bay. Try an on-site brewed Isle of Purbeck IPA at The Bankes Arms
- Winspit – The decent walk to and from the old quarry of Winspit in Worth Matravers is popularly finished off with a pint and pasty at the village local The Square and Compass. SatNav: BH19 3LE
For the more adventurous
These walks are either a little more off-the-beaten track or slightly more strenuous. A good pair of walking boots, water and snacks, and a good level of fitness is advised.
- Chapman’s Pool – The wide, enclosed bay is a retreat from everyday life. Walk from Kingston or find the nearest car park at Renscombe: BH19 3LL
- Clavell Tower – The enchanting Clavell Tower can be accessed up a short, steep hill from Kimmeridge. Bay parking is via a toll road: BH20 5PF
- Dancing Ledge – A short scramble at the end of a pleasant walk from Langton will bring you to the large, flat stone ledge that was once a prime quarrying site. Use National Trust Spyway car park for ease: BH19 3HG
- The Obelisk – An intriguing landmark standing above Swanage on the headland of Ballard Down, part of the Purbeck Hills ridgeway. Walk from town or for a faster hike up the hill park here: BH19 3DG
For endless rambles to return to again and again
The South West Coast Path
Much of the Purbeck coastline encompasses parts of the South West Coast Path, which runs all the way from Exmoor in Somerset to Studland, where it culminates at Poole Harbour at South Haven Point.
The path goes through four counties: Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, hugging the UK’s south west coastline, and covering 115 miles of the Jurassic Coast.
Many long-distance hikers set themselves the challenge of completing the trail from start to finish – and what better place to end than the Isle of Purbeck, where there are many welcoming eateries, B&Bs and hotels for you to have a well-deserved rest at the end of your challenge.
The South West Coast Path is 630 miles of breathtaking cliff walks and interesting coastal towns and villages along the way, so you can break up your hike with a bit of forward-planning or complete different sections over time.
Find out the best ways to complete the route, what to look out for and activities to try on the way on the SWCP website: www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk, which gives a suggested 52-day itinerary. The Purbeck stretch of this runs from Lulworth to Studland.
Walking & hiking equipment shops
If you need to stop to buy walking gear while you’re here, there are various options:
- Jurassic Outdoor, Swanage – Selling hiking and camping gear. Located at 13 High Street, BH19 2LP. Contact: ℹ️ www.jurassicoutdoor.com 📞 01929 424366
- National Trust shop, Corfe Castle – Situated in the village square at Corfe Castle and often sells walking gear, such as water bottles, rucksacks and seasonal clothing. Phone: 📞 01929 480921
- Norden Farm shop – Just outside Corfe Castle, on the way to Wareham (BH20 5DS), Norden sells a range of outdoor, household and pet items. Contact: ℹ️ nordenfarmshop.com 📞 01929 480098