Saturday, 13 May 2017

Swanage to Worth Matravers

Across Swanage Bay to Ballard Head

This is the second walk in our occasional project to walk the South West Coast Path in Dorset for the second time. We set out from the Mowlem Theatre and followed the quayside round past the Pier. As we got further on there was a great view across Swanage Bay to Ballard Head and we were surprised how clearly we could the Pinnacles and Old Harry Rocks, with Bournemouth behind.

We climbed up behind Peveril Point ...

 ... and headed along the grassy cliff top towards Durleston.

Emerging into a road we spotted an alternative to the road route we had followed in 2011 and descended into a wooded area dominated by a single massive tree.

This woodland path merged with the main path and led us to Durleston Castle at the edge of the Country Park. Just before we got there there was a great view back to  Peveril Point with Ballard Point behind and Bournemouth on the horizon.

It was impressive how Durleston Castle had been refurbished (it was covered in scaffolding and plastic when we last saw it).

We realised that the Coast Path signs had diverted us from the former route which led past the Great Globe, 40 tons of Purbeck stone with a map of the world, nestling in an enclosure in which there are a series of stone plaques carved with quotations from poets and the Bible, as well as facts about the natural world.

After passing Tilly Whin Caves - imaginative marketing for former limestone quarries - now long closed for safety reasons,  we reached Anvil Point with its lighthouse.

The next section follows the cliff top and we started to see our first Wall butterflies of the year, settling in characteristic fashion on the path. Suddenly we came to a sheltered section with bushes on the seaward side as well as the landward. Here we saw our first of the year ... Small Copper ...

... Common Blue ...

... and Small Blue. What joy!

Carrying on along this mainly level path we came to the wonderfully named Dancing Ledge, clearly a quarrying site. According to Wikipedia, it is so called "because at certain stages of the tide when the waves wash over the horizontal surface, the surface undulations cause the water to bob about making the ledge appear to dance".

This is the view above and behind Dancing ledge. It was interesting and surprising to see people in the sea, camping and climbing the cliffs.

We continued to Seacombe Cliff and turned right along the track up to Worth Matravers where we joined many others for a restorative drink at the Square and Compass.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: about 8 miles.

Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck and South Dorset).

Rating: Four stars.

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