Perfect Purbeck: A Mini Adventure on the Jurassic Coast

Though not an island at all, Dorset’s Isle of Purbeck is perfect for a few day’s coastal walking. This hilly peninsula, surrounded by water on three sides, is where the South West Coast Path performs it last hurrah, ending in a succession of formidable cliffs and soft, sandy beaches.

On a short break here, you can explore the fossil-rich bay of Kimmeridge, explore the ancient town of Corfe with its imposing ruined castle, ride the bygone carriages of the Swanage Steam Railway through the verdant countryside and kick back in seaside Swanage. You can also climb up to Studland Hill to gaze out at the chalk sea stacks of the Pinnacles and Old Harry Rock before reaching Studland Bay, to walk along its golden sands and to discover the important part it played in the First World War. You can finish your wonderful walk by reaching South Haven Point – the National Trail’s official end – and celebrating with an excellent seafood lunch.

Tour Overview

The icons below highlight the distance, difficulty and theme of this itinerary.

Days

4

Distance

Walks from 13km to 16km

Difficulty

Moderate

Landscape

Rolling Countryside / Connecting Villages & Towns / By Water

Theme

History / Food & Drink / Coastal

Activities & Experiences

Walking / Heritage

Perfect Purbeck: A Mini Adventure on the Jurassic Coast

Here’s everything you need to help you plan your very own walking and exploring break on the Dorset coast and Isle of Purbeck. Click on the blue arrow tabs below for more information. To save this itinerary to view later, use the Save to My Rucksack button at the top of the page.

Tour details

This itinerary is operated by Dorset-based Footscape, whose unrivalled local knowledge allows them to put together trails and experiences that only a local operator can provide. Footscape has been creating holidays and tours in Dorset for over a decade and this experience allows their knowledgeable team to anticipate exactly what makes a great walking holiday.

To find out more about this itinerary and make an enquiry or a booking, click on the Enquire Now button at the top of the page. The Save to My Rucksack button allows you to save itineraries to view later, or to download them as a PDF.

Included

  • Accommodation 3 nights, including breakfast.
  • Annotated Ordnance Survey or A-Z Adventurer map booklets and street maps, showing routes, accommodation and places of interest.
  • Comprehensive bespoke trail guide containing detailed directions, historical, geological and cultural background information and recommendations of places to eat and visit.
  • Details of bus and train timetables
  • Luggage transfers.

NOT INCLUDED: Lunches, dinners and drinks; transport to the start of the itinerary.

Itinerary

Escape to the Isle of Purbeck for four days of fabulous walking along one of the most spectacular stretches of the South West Coast Path, combining clifftop trails with castle ruins, fossil-flecked shores, sandy bays and delicious Dorset food and drink.

Day 1 Kingston & Kimmeridge

Catch a train to Wareham, then a bus to the pretty ridge-top village of Kingston, high in the Purbeck Hills. Ditch your bag and start walking right away, out to a spectacular coastal viewpoint and down to Kimmeridge. Visit its fossil-rich beach and remarkable Etches Collection – a modern museum of Jurassic marine life. Then follow the Coast Path out to Houns-Tout cliff, for sweeping sea views.

 

Day 2 Kingston to Corfe Castle & Swanage

Walk from Kingston across Corfe Common, keeping an eye out for wildflowers and wild ponies, to reach the little village of Corfe Castle, dominated by its namesake keep – one of the country’s most photogenic ruins. Explore the castle and perhaps visit the miniature village (which shows Corfe as it was in 1646).

After a pub lunch or cream tea, walk on from Corfe to Swanage, via a high ridge that affords views down to Poole Harbour and Swanage Bay. Or if you’re feeling weary, you could always catch the steam train. Swanage has plenty of places to eat – The Pig on the Beach is a special treat.

Walk: Corfe to Swanage 12km. Overnight in Swanage.

Day 3 Swanage and Worth Matravers

From Swanage, follow the Coast Path out to the lighthouse at Peveril Point, then south-west along the dramatic clifftops via Durlston Point and the Tilly Whim caves to Dancing Ledge. Look out for puffins nesting on the cliffs in spring and dolphins offshore in summer.

Veer inland to Worth Matravers for a traditional cider-and-pasty pub lunch at the Square & Compass. Then head back to Swanage via the Priest’s Way, following an ancient track once used by a local clergyman to travel between the two churches in his care.

 

Day 4 Swanage to Studland

Today, ‘complete’ the South West Coast Path. Following final stage of the National Trail, walk from Swanage up Ballard Down to gaze out to the blinding-white chalk formations of the Pinnacles and Old Harry Rock, before tracing Studland Bay.

Continue along the golden sands, pausing at a beach cafe, to reach South Haven Point, where you can pose by the Coast Path sign, and perhaps take the ferry to Poole and visit Brownsea Island.

Walk: Swanage to South Haven Point 12km. Return home or arrange to overnight locally.

Accommodation

Footscape accommodates walkers in good village inns/hotels and the best available B&Bs; all rooms have ensuite/private bathroom facilities. There are two accommodation standards: A1 (hotels/inns/upmarket B&Bs) and A2 (village inns/B&Bs). Superior A* accommodation in luxury small hotels is available on request.

Food & Drink

Excellent seafood – especially locally caught Dorset crab – is abundant on these sections of the path and will feature extensively on menus. Look out for distinctive local ales too. We can provide recommendations for places to eat. Here are a few favourites.

  • The Scott Arms, Kingston – Beautiful historic Dorset inn with a Jamaican Jerkshak barbecue.
  • Greyhound Inn, Corfe Castle – Traditional English pub with good food, nestled below the castle.
  • The Pig on the Beach, Swanage – Wonderful high-end dining experience.
  • The Square & Compass, Worth Matravers – Traditional cider and pasty pub.
  • The Salt Pig, Swanage – Locally sourced fresh seafood and produce.
  • Shell Bay Cafe, Studland – Great seafood experience with wonderful views.

Activities

This grade of this tour is moderate.

Walks
  • Kingston and Kimmeridge loop, 15.3km
  • Kingston to Corfe Castle & Swanage, 12km
  • Swanage and Worth Matravers loop, 15.3km
  • Swanage to South Haven Point, 12km

Experiences

Mix walks with other experiences along the South West Coast Path. We can recommend local points of interest.

  • Etches Collection and fossil hunting, Kimmeridge – Unique, modern museum of the marine life of Jurassic Dorset.
  • Corfe Castle – Thousand-year-old bastion, now a dramatic mound-top ruin.
  • Corfe Castle Model Village – One-twentieth scale reproduction of the village as it was in 1646.
  • Brownsea Island – Island in Poole Harbour, with views across to the Purbeck Hills and a population of red squirrels.

Coastal England

The South West Coast Path wraps right around the shores of Devon, Cornwall and Dorset, and will be part of the England Coast Path.

Travel

Wareham station is on the London Waterloo to Weymouth line. Connecting bus services run to Kingston. Buses run from Swanage to Wareham and Bournemouth.

Great Western Railway runs a regular service from Paddington station to the south west region. 

Footscape provides walkers with full details of bus services and taxi companies operating in the area.

Advice

No special equipment required other than walking boots and outdoor clothing. Walks are graded moderate, with some climbs and ridgeway walks.

We advise that you check opening times and booking restrictions before travelling.

Please check out these links for latest advice when in the countryside

Countryside Code

COVID-19 Guidance

Interactive Map

Click here to access the interactive map

Maps, Guidebooks & Merchandise

The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.