A small section of the coastal path which encircles the UK is the South West Coastal Path. Part runs from just south of the hamlet of Worth Matravers close to Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck.
A circular walk of about 6 miles, leave the car park ( BH19 3LE ) just above Worth Matravers and walk down past the Square and Compasses public house and the pond. From there after passing a row of cottages, continue though a gate and along a path through a field, to join an uneven track of smooth flints, which winds down to the coastal path. The walk is over Limestone cliffs, bordered by chalk grassland.
At the point where the path splits east towards Swanage or west to St Albans Head with it’s coastguard station,are the remains of Winspit stone quarry. This is popular with climbers and has it’s possible to explore inside the rock face.
A few yards north of the quarry, you would have noticed a flight of steps ( with quite large stones ) leading up to the path along this beautiful coastline winding westwards.
For the most part the path is easily navigable and slightly inland of the cliff edge. Some sections have been moved further away from the cliff edge due to erosion. In spring and summer the route is lined with tall grasses and colourful wild flowers.
Care should be taken not to stumble on short pieces of iron fence post projecting from the path, usually right in it’s centre. On fine days a succession of walkers coming the opposite way, lends the opportunity to exchange greetings as you pass on the narrow path.
Most of the route to St Albans Heads undulates gently, but s few sections are steeper and care should be taken where the surface is loose and slippery – particularly when descending.
A good place to pause for refreshments and to get you breath back, is just below the Coastguard station, manned by volunteers. Nearby is a row of white coastguard cottages and an ancient chapel.
Not for the feint hearted of those who find difficulty navigating steps, steep flights of steps lead down to and away from Chapmans Pool.
For those returning to Worth Matravers, about 3 miles along a wide chalk path, pause a while in the 800 year old St. Adhelm’s Chapel.
The return to Worth Matravers, is ideal for a chat with your companions.
Whilst 6 miles is not too long for most walkers, I found the last mile was definitely the longest. Entering the village, passing the church and up past the Square and Compasses was the cruellest and it was a great relief to kick my boots off, once back to the car. The views, peace and tranquillity is well worth the effort !
NB : The route, with a diversion to view Chapman’s Pool and return to the coastguard station was measured on GPS as 6.03 miles.
Words and pictures : Tony Knight photography and MEDIA