15 Best Walks In Swanage (Hikes & Nice Walks)

15 Best Walks In Swanage (Hikes & Nice Walks)

By will

I love exploring the great outdoors, and what better way to do it than to take a walk in one of the most beautiful places in England?

Swanage is a stunning coastal town in Dorset, boasting some of the best hikes and walks in the entire country.

From the rugged Old Harry Rocks to the stunning views of the Purbeck Heritage Coast Walk, there’s something for everyone here.

Today I’m going to take you through some of the best walks and hikes in the area, to help you make the most of your time in Swanage.

So let’s get out there and explore!

Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage
Photo by Malc McDonald

Old Harry Rocks offer an incredible opportunity to explore the Jurassic Coast, with breathtaking views of the sea and surrounding countryside! This popular walk gives visitors the chance to take in the stunning views of the Purbeck Hills and the Isle of Wight.

The route can be completed in a looped walk, along the South West Coast path, with plenty of opportunities to stop and take in the incredible views, whilst watching the waves crash against the rocks.

The path is well marked and easy to follow, making it a perfect walk for families and those who may not have a lot of experience with walking.

The route also offers a variety of wildlife, from the local coastal birds, to the seals and dolphins that can occasionally be spotted in the surrounding waters.

Old Harry Rocks is a great opportunity to explore some of the best scenery the Jurassic Coast has to offer!

Ballard Down

Obelisk on Ballard Down
Photo by David Smith

Awe-inspiring Ballard Down offers stunning views of the Jurassic Coast, making it an unforgettable experience.

Ballard Down is a chalk ridge located on the Isle of Purbeck, close to Swanage. It’s a great spot to take in the beauty of the Jurassic Coast as the views span from Swanage Bay, right along to Old Harry Rocks.

While Ballard Down may not be the longest walk, it’s still an excellent choice for a stroll. With its open hillside and stunning views, it’s a great place to relax and take in the views.

The path is relatively flat and easy to navigate, making it suitable for all ages. Whether you’re looking for a short walk to take in the breathtaking views, or a longer hike, Ballard Down is perfect for both.

Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve

Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve and Poole Harbou
Photo by N Chadwick

Experience nature at its finest at Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve, a stunningly beautiful reserve located near Swanage. The reserve boasts a wide variety of species of birds, plants, and butterflies, making it a haven for wildlife lovers.

Take a leisurely walk through the heathland and you’ll be surrounded by a variety of wildflowers, from the common gorse to the rare marsh gentian. The reserve is also a great spot for birdwatching, with over 250 species of birds recorded in the area. The heathland provides a perfect habitat for birds such as the nightjar, Dartford Warbler, and Woodlark.

If you’re looking for a longer walk, there are plenty of options. You can take a hike through the heathland and woodland or take a stroll along the beach. Keep an eye out for the rare and endangered species of amphibians, reptiles, and mammals that can be found in the reserve.

The reserve also has a number of interesting archaeological sites, such as Iron Age hill forts and Bronze Age burial mounds. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing stroll or an adventurous hike, Studland and Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve is the perfect place to explore.

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Swanage Railway Walk

For a truly unique experience, take a stroll along the Swanage Railway Walk. This five-mile route takes you on a journey through some of the most beautiful parts of the County of Dorset. With plenty to see and discover, the Railway Walk is a great way to spend an afternoon.

The route begins at the point where the old Swanage Railway line used to end, at the town’s old station. From there, the path takes you through the beautiful countryside, passing old stone bridges, old railway signals, and a variety of wildlife.

Along the way, there are plenty of places to rest and take in the views, including a stop at an old signal box. The path ends at the old station, which is now a museum, giving you the chance to take a look at some of the old locomotives that used to run on the railway line.

The Railway Walk is the perfect way to experience Swanage and its surrounding area, providing a picturesque and peaceful setting for a leisurely stroll. With its stunning views and fascinating history, it’s a great way to spend an afternoon.

Durlston Country Park

Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature as you explore Durlston Country Park, a stunning expanse of lush countryside and stunning coastal views.

This park is a haven for wildlife, with a variety of birds, butterflies, and wildflowers that make it a great place for nature lovers.

Its trails offer a variety of scenic routes, from leisurely forest walks to more strenuous coastal paths.

The path along the cliff top provides an unbeatable view of the Jurassic Coast, while there’s also the option of a circular walk around the nature reserve.

For the more adventurous, a longer hike can take you to the historic and picturesque Old Harry Rocks.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike, Durlston Country Park has something for everyone.

Dancing Ledge

Take in the breathtaking views at Dancing Ledge, a beautiful and unique spot on the Jurassic Coast. Located on the south coast of Swanage, this picturesque spot is a great spot for a walk because of its stunning views.

The dramatic cliffs and the rock platform of Dancing Ledge make it a perfect place for a picnic, and the views of the sea and the Isle of Wight are unbeatable. On a clear day, you can see the Needles in the distance. Even on a cloudy day, the cliffs and the rock platform are an impressive sight.

The walk down to Dancing Ledge is easy, but don’t forget to bring a pair of good walking shoes as the rocks can be slippery when wet.

Once you arrive, you can explore the rock platform or relax and take in the views. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll or a chance to take in the beauty of the Jurassic Coast, Dancing Ledge is perfect.

Winspit and Seacombe

Explore Winspit and Seacombe for an unforgettable experience of the Jurassic Coast’s rugged beauty. This area of Swanage is known for its spectacular views of the chalk cliffs, dramatic rock formations, and stunning beaches.

Take a leisurely stroll along the coast to take in the sights or explore further inland. You’ll find wildflower meadows, hidden valleys, and ancient woodlands.

Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the remarkable beauty of the area. You’ll find plenty of opportunities to take photographs of the dramatic coastline and vibrant wildlife. This is a great spot to watch for birds, such as puffins and guillemots, and to admire the rare plants that grow in the meadows.

After a day of exploring, take a moment to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and watch the sun set over the horizon.

Corfe Castle

Gaze in awe at the majestic Corfe Castle, an impressive ruin that stands as a reminder of England’s rich history. Perched atop an imposing hill, the 9th-century castle offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

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Made up of a series of stone walls, towers, and gatehouses, the castle has been largely untouched since its destruction in 1645. It’s a great spot for a picnic with friends or a romantic stroll.

With its picturesque views, peaceful atmosphere, and fascinating history, Corfe Castle is the perfect place to while away an afternoon. Take in the views of the medieval village of Corfe, the rolling hills of the Purbeck Hills, and the sparkling sea beyond. Enjoy the beautiful gardens, explore the ruins, and learn more about the fascinating history of Corfe Castle.

It’s a wonderful way to spend a day in Swanage.

Chapman’s Pool

Chapman’s Pool is a stunningly beautiful cove tucked into the Purbeck Hills, offering incredible views and a peaceful atmosphere.

A walk around the scenic cove is a must for anyone visiting the area. The path around the cove is well maintained and accessible for most visitors, making it a great option for families or those with limited mobility.

The views from the path are breathtaking, with the crystal clear water of the cove surrounded by lush green hills. The walk takes you through a variety of terrain, from rocky beaches to grassy fields, and is the perfect spot to take a picnic or just take in the natural beauty.

Along the way, you’ll be able to spot a variety of wildlife, including seabirds, peregrine falcons, and even seals.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful stroll or an exciting adventure, Chapman’s Pool is the perfect place to explore.

Swanage Beach

Take a stroll down to Swanage Beach and experience the beauty of the Purbeck Hills from a different angle. With its sweeping views of the Jurassic Coast and its white-sand shoreline, Swanage Beach is one of the most picturesque spots in the area.

Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to reflect on the beauty of nature or a place to have a refreshing swim in the sea, Swanage Beach has it all. As you walk along the shore, you can observe the unique rock formations and the abundance of wildlife.

There is a great selection of cafes and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat and even a few pubs for those looking for a bit of entertainment.

With its stunning scenery and peaceful atmosphere, Swanage Beach is the perfect spot for a leisurely walk or a romantic sunset stroll.

Kimmeridge Bay

Experience the beauty of Kimmeridge Bay from the rocky cliffs and observe the unique marine life that inhabits this stunning spot.

From the ancient Jurassic Coast, Kimmeridge Bay has been a popular site for fossil hunters and hikers for centuries.

The area is composed of rocky shorelines and cliffs with an abundance of marine life, such as the rare Palaeontological species, the Kimmeridge Shrimp.

The crystal clear waters of Kimmeridge Bay provide a perfect spot for snorkeling or simply admiring the diverse sea life.

With its picturesque beauty, it’s easy to see why Kimmeridge Bay is one of the most popular spots for walks in Swanage.

On a clear day, the turquoise waters of Kimmeridge Bay reflect the sun’s rays off the rocky cliffs, creating a beautiful effect that will take your breath away.

Take a leisurely stroll along the beach and explore the fascinating rock formations, such as the famous ‘Limestone Pillars’ found here.

Keep an eye out for the abundance of wildlife in the area including seals, seabirds, and marine mammals.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful, scenic walk or a more adventurous exploration, Kimmeridge Bay is the perfect spot to enjoy the best of Swanage.

Swanage Bay to Anvil Point

From Kimmeridge Bay, take a scenic walk along the coast and explore the stunning views of Swanage Bay to Anvil Point.

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This hike is roughly three miles in length and offers spectacular views of Old Harry Rocks and the Jurassic Coast.

The trail is mostly flat, making it a great choice for families and anyone else looking for an easy walk.

Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to pause and take in the views, with the historic lighthouse at Anvil Point a great spot to take a break.

The lush coastline is home to an abundance of wildlife, such as seabirds, dolphins, and seals, and is a great spot for birdwatching.

The walk also offers stunning views of the Purbeck Hills and the Isle of Wight.

Whether you choose to take a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk, Swanage Bay to Anvil Point is a great way to explore the beauty of the Dorset coastline.

Kingston Lacy Estate

Leaving the breathtaking views of Swanage Bay behind, I continued my journey by heading to the Kingston Lacy Estate, a historically important country house. It’s located near Wimborne Minster and was built in 1665 by the Bankes family.

The estate is made up of an impressive 85-acre parkland, a terraced garden, and a woodland garden that’s filled with rhododendrons and azaleas. Walking through the estate, I felt as though I was transported back in time.

The views from the top of the garden are stunning – perfect for a romantic stroll or a family day out. There’s a great range of walks, from a two-mile loop around the estate, to a longer hike that takes you to the neighbouring village of Langton.

If you’re looking for an even more adventurous route, you can try the 11-mile round trip walk to Corfe Castle. No matter which route you take, the incredible views of the surrounding countryside make the Kingston Lacy Estate a must-visit destination in Swanage.

St Aldhelm’s Head

You’ll be blown away by the beautiful views from St Aldhelm’s Head, a stunning headland situated near the village of Worth Matravers. It’s a popular spot for local walkers, offering the perfect opportunity to explore the Jurassic Coast.

There are plenty of trails to choose from, ranging from easy strolls to more challenging hikes. From the top, you’ll be treated to stunning sea views and you may even spot some local wildlife. You can also see the rolling hills of the Purbeck countryside and take in the fresh sea air.

It’s a truly breathtaking experience that you won’t soon forget. No matter what kind of walk you choose to do, St Aldhelm’s Head is sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Purbeck Heritage Coast Walk

Stretching from Swanage to Old Harry Rocks, the Purbeck Heritage Coast Walk offers a spectacular coastal path that will take your breath away. This wonderful walk passes through some of the most stunning and varied landscape in the United Kingdom, with coastal cliffs, stunning beaches, and crystal clear waters.

As you make your way along the path, you’ll be enthralled by the many historical sites you’ll come across, such as the enchanting Corfe Castle and the ruins of Bindon Abbey.

Along the way, you’ll be able to take in views of the Isle of Purbeck, the Jurassic Coast, and the English Channel.

The path is easy to follow, with plenty of signage to help you find your way, and plenty of places to rest and take in the views.

Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a more challenging hike, the Purbeck Heritage Coast Walk has something for everyone.


After all the miles of breathtaking views, it’s time to go back to Swanage.

I’ve had a wonderful experience exploring some of the best walks in the area.

I’ve seen dramatic cliffs, lush nature reserves, and historic sights.

It’s been a pleasure to wander around the countryside, and I’ve met some friendly locals too.

I’ve definitely earned a rest, and I’m looking forward to a well-deserved pint in one of the local pubs.

I’ll be back soon, as I’m sure I’ve only scratched the surface of what Swanage has to offer.

Until then, I’ll keep on dreaming of my next adventure.

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About the author

Will is an avid hillwalker and traveler. You may find him surfing in Cornwall or hiking in the Yorkshire Dales.