Gateway to the Jurassic Coast, the town of Swanage is an ideal base from which to explore the delights of the Isle of Purbeck peninsula. Walks around Swanage explore some of the most spectacular sea cliffs in England, evocative castle ruins, atmospheric hills and geological wonders.
Breathe in the sea air as you stride out on the many sumptuous coastal walks on offer. There is so much variety here from dramatic cliff tops and imposing sea stacks to golden beaches and hidden coves. Superb views of the Dorset coast are a welcome and constant companion as you explore this delightful region.Inland too, there are many fantastic options for hikes around Swanage. The chalk grasslands of the peninsula are teeming with wildlife, whilst the rolling hills and heathland offer sweeping vistas back to the coastline. For that post-hike refuel, the pretty villages of Studland, Corfe Castle and Worth Matravers await with generous hospitality.
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There are a range of fantastic hikes around Swanage that explore the geological splendour of the Purbeck Heritage Coast. Roam the cliff edges to earn unforgettable coastal views. Just to the south, Durlston Nature Reserve is perfect for an adventure, boasting 320 acres of sea cliffs, coastal trails, limestone downland, woodland and hay meadows.
Thrust above the waves on towering white cliffs, the peninsula of Ballard Point is a popular hiking objective. Here chalk formations jut out of the sea at Old Harry Rocks, an icon of the region. Beyond the headland is Studland Bay, famed for its long sandy beaches.
Some of the finest hiking trails around Swanage explore the wider Jurassic Coast. As a result of its outstanding Earth science interest, this extraordinary coastline was awarded with Britain’s first natural UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2001. It is the only place in the world where 185 million years of natural history is written sequentially into the rock. Many superb trails allow you to discover this natural wonder for yourself.
Discover bygone smugglers’ haunts in the coves, caves and cliffs of the coast. The most southerly point on the peninsula, St Albans Head, makes for a superb objective, with glorious views all the way down the coast to Portland. Further west, magical rock patterns and the cerulean waters at Lulworth Cove await exploration. Whilst further along is the iconic and spectacular limestone arch of Durdle Door. You might even unearth your very own fossil.
There’s more than just superb coastline to experience during your walks around Swanage. The chalk grassland of the Purbeck hills is an invigorating place to roam. Nature abounds here. The hills contain the highest concentration of native and anciently introduced wildflowers in Britain and in spring and autumn it’s possible to catch sight of migrating ospreys.
Meanwhile, few sights are more evocative than the morning mist rising to reveal the ruins of Corfe Castle, high on a hill in a strategic gap in the Purbeck ridge. These archetypal castle ruins and the surrounding countryside ooze quintessential Dorset charm.
Explore more of Purbeck: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.