You might discover this expanse of shingle and sand beach by chance on a visit to the abandoned village of Tyneham.
Tucked away at the foot of the Purbeck Hills this stretch of coastline is a quiet, sheltered bay, perfect for picnicking, beachcombing, and soaking up the stunning views.
A gentle one mile walk from Tyneham village car park, and also accessible via the South West Coast Path, Worbarrow Bay (occasionally erroneously referred to as Tyneham Beach) is a stunning natural setting, untouched by modern development – as such, you won’t find many facilities here. There are, however, public toilets at Tyneham Farm.
For a full day out in nature and history, spend the morning exploring the village that was vacated as part of the war effort in 1943, before walking down to the hidden gem of Worbarrow Bay and its neighbouring Pondfield Cove.
Swimming and safety information
You can swim in Worbarrow Bay, however the water can shelve quite steeply so isn’t recommended for young children or novice swimmers.
Lifeguards are not on duty here.
Dogs at Worbarrow Bay
Worbarrow Bay and Pondfield Cove are good spots if you have a dog that likes to let off steam as they are welcome on this beach off-lead all year round.
Note that access to both Worbarrow Bay and Tyneham village is subject to restrictions due to the area being owned and used by the Ministry of Defence for training purposes and part of the Lulworth Ranges.
The access road is typically open at weekends and during school holidays, but may be subject to change. For up-to-date access times you can phone for an automated message: 01929 404714
Nearby points of interest
Just to the left of Worbarrow Bay, as you walk down the path, is the small, rocky Pondfield Cove, where you can see fine examples of the ‘folds’ of sedimentary rock, characteristic of this part of the Jurassic Coast.
Worbarrow Tout – eastern end of the bay
Pondfield cove and Worbarrow Bay are separated by the promontory Worbarrow Tout (meaning ‘lookout’), which makes for some far-reaching sea views if you climb to the top.
Worbarrow Tout and its cliff are also rich with geology, with both fossils and dinosaur footprints having been found in the limestone here.
Cow Corner & Arish Mel – western end of bay
The area to the north-west of Worbarrow Bay is known as Cow Corner. These chalk cliffs give way to Arish Mel – a small bay lying between Worbarrow Bay and Mupe Bay.
Arish Mel is not accessible to the public due to safety reasons – there is no coastal path access, and it has been fenced off due to the risk of the potential presence of unexploded munitions.
There is still evidence of the Iron Age hill fort of Flowers Barrow, which lies above Arish Mel and overlooks Worbarrow Bay, although some has succumbed to erosion and fallen into the sea now – such landslides have, however, also revealed further parts of the hill fort, of which you can see ramparts and hut circles.
Archaeological excavations have found bones and Iron Age pottery. It is believed the Romans took the site over when they invaded.
There is a fairly steep climb to get to Flower’s Barrow and visitors must keep to waymarked paths.
How to get to Worbarrow Bay
Worbarrow Bay can only be reached on foot. It is a relatively flat one-mile walk from the now-uninhabited village of Tyneham.
Access to Worbarrow Bay is subject to the Lulworth Range Walks being open (most weekends and school holidays).
For your SatNav: BH20 5QN
From the A351 follow signs to Creech and Kimmeridge. You’ll soon see signs for Tyneham, where you can park in the village car park and walk to the bay.
Access via the South West Coast Path
Worbarrow Bay can also be accessed via the South West Coast Path, which runs through the Lulworth Ranges.
Important safety information
All Range walks have been made safe for visitors, however it is important to stick to the way-marked paths.
These are marked by yellow waymarkers, and pathways are enclosed within fences, which walkers must stay inside.
Other ‘secret’ beaches in Purbeck
If you like to head out off the beaten track and explore places in relative solitude, there are some other quiet beaches and stretches of coastline in and around Swanage that are similarly undeveloped, like Worbarrow Bay.
- Chapman’s Pool – The hidden gem of Chapman’s Pool offers a more rugged beach experience and can only be accessed via a decent walk and descent down some steep steps – park in the village of Worth Matravers and choose a dry day for ease
- Peveril Point – Despite being very close to town and all the amenities of Swanage, Peveril Point can be a relatively quiet place to wile away an hour. A rocky promontory to the southernmost end of Swanage Bay, the short walk out to Peveril Point give a fresh perspective on the bay and town
- Durlston Bay – Accessible via a scramble across rocks from Peveril Point or via steps and a path through a steep bit of woodland off Belle Vue Road, this generally secluded bay is suitable for sitting and admiring the view. Dogs may struggle underfoot with the rocks and sea swimming isn’t advised here
- Shipstal Beach – You might come across the odd walker or wildlife-watcher here, but this little beach on the shores of Poole Harbour is mostly tranquil and quiet. Accessed via a lovely woodland walk through Arne’s RSPB Nature Reserve, it’s a great spot for a picnic. Dogs should be kept on a lead here