This section of the Dorset coast features impressive natural limestone cliffs, interspersed by sections that were quarried to help build many of the classic buildings of London and beyond, like St Paul's Cathedral. Yet its history (or prehistory) goes back even further to the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Spanning nearly 185 million years, the geology of the area has been recognised by World Heritage Site status. Whilst you can't see the beautiful fossils from the main coastal footpath, a diversion down to the popular Dancing Ledge will reveal ammonites frozen in time. You can also explore some of the caves and coves used by the smugglers in the late 1700s around Hedbury, Seacombe and Winspit Quarries, before ascending to St Albans Head the Western limit of our walk before making you way into Worth Matravers where the popular Square and Compass Pub offers a tradition pub lunch. After this you join the Priest's Way on the crest of the limestone down, before making your way back to Durlston Country Park.
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Distance: 11.74 miles (18.90 km)
Total ascent: 513m
Time: 5 – 8 hours (Walking)
The pay and display car park at Durlston Country Park, SZ031774
The terrain is generally on a good path, however the soil is clay based and can become extreme slippery and difficult to travel along in the wet. There are some diversion down to quarries that feature rocky steps - again, not great in the wet.
This route can be sunny year round, but avoid in wet conditions.
Buses from Bournemouth to Swanage
OS Explorer OL15 (1:25,000), OS Landranger 195 (1:50,000) Directory Listings:
Find more Listings near this route Tourist info:
Swanage (01929 422 885); Poole (01202 253253); Bournemouth (0845 051 1700)