Around the Isle of Purbeck - Swanage to Worth Matravers

Submitted by Timwoods on 02 May 2010
OS Explorer Map: OL15 - Purbeck and South Dorset
(20 votes)
A circular, full-day coast walk in England starting at Swanage town centre, Dorset, about 23km (roughly 15 miles) long and unsuitable for families with children, prams/pushchairs, wheelchairs.
Find Public Transport to Swanage town centre, Dorset

There's lots to enjoy on the Isle of Purbeck (which is actually a peninsular) and this walk takes you round some of the highlights. Starting in Swanage, you will first enjoy the town's lively seafront before heading onto the cliffs around Durlstin Head. There's some great coastal scenery along to St Alban's head, before you head up to Worth Matravers and its well-loved pub, the Square and Compass. It's then back to Swanage via farm footpaths.

Start: Swanage town centre, OS Grid: SZ030793
Elevation Profile (x: waypoint number, y: metres)
Gain (+/- 10%): 357m (1171ft)
Total (+/- 10%): 713m (2338ft)
Loss (+/- 10%): 355m (1167ft)
Max. Elevation: 140m (459ft)

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OS Grid: SZ030793
Take the bus to Swanage town centre. The beach is packed in summer, with all the usual trimmings. But this is not just a summer walk; the coastline is even more dramatic in the winter months. Head southwards through the town, past the small pier, and the path starts near the end of the town.
About 1 km (roughly 1 miles) from 1 OS Grid: SZ036784
The path climbs up to Peveril Point, a headland just outside Swanage. You then pass through some woods before reaching Durlston Head.
About 1 km (roughly 1 miles) from 2 OS Grid: SZ035772
This is the start of the Durlston Country Park. There is a visitor centre with lots of information about the area. Carry on heading west along the coastline.
About 2 km (roughly 2 miles) from 3 OS Grid: SZ011766
This is perhaps the finest section of the walk - open clifftop views as you head towards St Alban's Head. Look out for Dancing Ledge - two ledges sticking out into the sea, which are the remains of an old quarry.
About 5 km (roughly 4 miles) from 4 OS Grid: SY964752
The path reaches another headland, St Alban's Head (or St Aldhem). Have a quick look at the tiny chapel, before descending down the steep ground of Emmetts Hill.
About 2 km (roughly 2 miles) from 5 OS Grid: SY958768
The walk continues to Chapman's Pool, a small cove cut into the land. Follow the path along West Hill, and follow the track into Worth Matravers.
About 1 km (roughly 1 miles) from 6 OS Grid: SY969773
The main attraction in this little village is it's famous pub, The Square and Compass. Great beer and cider are served through a small hatch, tasty food is available, and there are great views while you sup away - if you can find an empty spot! More at
About 1 km (roughly 1 miles) from 7 OS Grid: SY982779
From Worth Matravers, you can take the Priest's Way back to Swanage. This was a path used by a priest to get from his home in Swanage to his church in Worth Matravers. Whether he stopped off in the Square and Compass each time is unknown.
About 3 km (roughly 2 miles) from 8 OS Grid: SZ011785
The paths take you past Langton Matravers, which has a good campsite if you are staying overnight. Alternatively, continue along the road back into Swanage.
About 2 km (roughly 2 miles) from 9 OS Grid: SZ029791
Back again, and there is plenty to do in Swanage (not least lying on the beach eating ice cream). Buses leave the town to many nearby destinations, including Wareham, which is the nearest train station.
2 comments ...join the discussion!
Sue Leppington  commented on 29 January 2014
Circular walk Swanage to Worth Matravers
Return from Worth Matravers why not return to Swanage by the Priest's Trail?
Timwoods  commented on 29 January 2014
Priest's Way
Good suggestion! Have updated the route.
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