If you enjoy walking, hiking, or strolling around breathtaking scenery and lush countryside, a visit to Swanage will be something that should be on your bucket list. Swanage sits at the Eastern gateway of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site, and culture and geology in this area are very rich. The list of sights to see is quite long, including the majestic Corfe Castle, the stark white rocks that make up Harry Rocks, and the ancient Iron Age Forts that will make you feel like you’ve taken a step back in time. Here are a few ideas of where your feet can take you to discover the most important, and amazing, sights in Swanage.
Durlstron Country Park’s Clifftop Trail
The first walk we’ll be talking about is quite an easy and short clifftop walk known by the name of Durlstron Country Park’s Clifftop Trail. This walk is around 1.7 Km long and it will take you through the park, the national nature reserve which features a variety of important habitats such as limestone downland, woodlands, hay meadows, dry stone walls and hedgerows amongst others. The park’s visitor center has displays showcasing the recent sightings of wildlife in the park, so you’ll know what to look out for. Another interesting feature of the park is its underwater hydrophone that enables you to listen to any dolphins that might be passing nearby.
You can start this walk by parking your vehicle at the Durslton Country Park car park. From here you can also borrow a Tramper electric wheelchair that is capable of going all the way along this route. You can pre-book the wheelchair by ringing on 01929 424443.
St Aldhelm’s Chapel
This walk is around 4.5 Km and it is quite easy apart from one stretch that has a steep descent, however, this can be avoided by returning along the route taken to the chapel instead of taking the long way round. During the rainy season, the paths might be muddy so wearing appropriate footwear is essential.
This walk follows the high plateau of land above St Aldhelm’s Head on the Isle of Purbeck. Whilst on this route you can visit the 13th Century chapel of St Aldhelm however, this chapel is not the oldest thing that you’ll come across on this walk. Bronze Age barrows can be seen on the high ground and from this site, you can see amazing coastal views, stark white cliffs, and dense vegetation on the undercliffs. This walk is very popular with families, especially those with young children.
Studland Village to Old Harry
This walk is slightly more intense than the other two we’ve mentioned earlier. It is approximately 6.2 Km long and it does follow some long, yet gentle climbs and descents, however, the views you’ll be able to see will make it worthwhile. On the one side, you’ll be able to see views of Swanage and on the other, you’ll see views of Wareham and Bournemouth. This walk is great for a sunny spring day as the surrounding fields will be buzzing with bees and butterflies. Taking this walk during Autumn is also a good idea as you’ll be able to witness migrating birds moving across the water. These views are a big hit with children, however, do make sure they are old enough to understand that walking towards the edge of the cliff is extremely dangerous.
You can start this walk by taking the steps down from the National Trust South Beach car park in Studland and then taking a right turn towards the coast.
Corfe Castle to Swanage
This walk, which is approximately 20 Km long, going all the way from Corfe Castle to Swanage is quite challenging but worth it. The footpaths that you will follow are ancient rutted tracks that might be muddy and slippery so wearing suitable footwear is recommended. The walk also includes a lot of steep descents and ascents as well as some steps. For thousands of years, people have walked this path through a dramatic landscape that is brimming with history. By far, the oldest footprints that have been found in this area belonged to dinosaurs!
To start this walk you have to go to the Square in Corfe Castle and walk down West Street. Take the narrow path between the buildings, you will see a signpost for the Purbeck Way. Turn right into the playground and follow the footpath from the left-hand boundaries of the fields. Once you pass by Halves Cottage take the passage on the right by the parking area and enjoy the scenic views! You might also glimpse Dolphins swimming in the open sea, so make sure to take a few moments to absorb the beauty of the surrounding nature. Once you make it to Swanage, you can get a train back to Corfe Castle, unless you feel like taking the walk back.
Chapman’s Pool From Worth Matravers
This walk offers breathtaking views of limestone coastlines, caves, and platforms that have been formed by millions of years of natural erosion and hundreds of years of human quarrying. The path is steep and might be slippery during the rainy season so suitable footwear is recommended. You can start this walk from the Car Park in Worth Matravers. From there turn right into the village then take the left road past the Square and Compass and follow the road uphill until you come to the footpath heading through the fields.
This walk, although not suitable for wheelchairs or pushchairs, is a big hit with children as they will love the final destination, Chapman’s pool is a wild beach where children and adults alike can find ancient fossils in the dark cliffs surrounding the wonderful place where the stream meets the sea.
To find out more information about these walks you can head on to www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk. On this link, you will find printable maps of all the above-mentioned walks, safety advice, and highly detailed walk routes that will help guide you to your final destinations. Swanage is the perfect place to stretch your legs and discover amazing scenery, ancient history, and bustling wildlife, so grab your maps and get going!