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Details

  • Start: Renscombe car park (grid ref SY964774). From Worth Matravers duck-pond, drive straight through for ¾ mile, passing Weston Farm. Car park is 100 yards after the tarmac road ends. Contribution box for Purbeck Heritage
  • End: Renscombe car park
  • Country: England
  • County: Dorset
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Square and Compass at Worth Matravers (BH19 3LF) has award-winning beers and
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Landranger 195
  • Difficulty: Hard
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Description

Edward Griffiths enjoys a coastal walk with ancient tracks, intriguing quarry workings and fabulous vistas

Distance: 4 miles/6.4km Time: 2-2 hours Exertion: Strenuous


Winspit Quarry was shipping limestone over its perilous cliff-edge to waiting boats at least 300 years ago and, after a spell of inactivity, was brought back into use between the Second World War and 1953. The ruins date from that period. The good freestone was worked, leaving a massive terrace of cherty beds and large caves propped up
by huge stone piers. The Coast Path heads westwards to St Aldhelms Head where a substantial walled Norman chapel occupies the centre of a pre-Conquest Christian Enclosure. Nearby is the Coastwatch Lookout Station and, below this, a flight of steps leads to the site of Second World War buildings belonging to the Telecommunications Research Establishment where experiments led to
the RADAR systems we use today.


The Walk
1
From the car park, cross the track to the footpath-gate. Follow the left hedge across the high field to corner twin gates onto a short track. At the end, bear left onto the track passing Weston Farms right barns. Up to the lane, signed back St Aldhelms Head 1, enjoy a gentle stroll along the lane you just drove along. Continue between fields and cottages with East and West Mans strip lynches over to your right. Ignore the right Winspit 1 track which passes some houses. Arriving in the village, continue down past the Village Hall to first right London Row. If exploring St Nicholas Church, the village and the Square and Compass, come back here later.

2 Down London Row, join the footpath-track. Through the end East Man half-gate, follow the path down the long field above the valley. Through the lower corner half-gate, keep following the clear path with elder and blackthorn in the left stream valley. Joining the main track, much stonier, keep following it for another mile, passing Winspit Cottage on the way. Before reaching Winspit and the sea cliffs, you pass a right Coast Path stone for St Aldhelms Head 1. After exploring the workings and caves and admiring the stunning views over the ancient harbour, return to this turning.


3 Up the steps, skirting above Winspit Quarry, pass the stoneeat and keep following the Coast Path above steep and dangerous cliffs. Look out for yellow-flowering sea kale, pink thrift and yellow birds-foot trefoil. On your left are superb views and, just before a steep rise, piles of anciently fallen rocks and steep cliff faces. Soon undulating and climbing again, you should see a few rare examples of deep-blue vipers bugloss.


4 Past a Coast Path Chapmans Pool stone, cross another path and keep climbing. Past the left WWII radar site with the flight of concrete steps, you reach the stainless-steel sculptured memorial to the veterans and scientists, which was unveiled by Sir Bernard Lovell in 2001. Past the Lookout, visit St Aldhelms Chapel and then continue along the cliff-top Coast Path with perilous sea-cliff stacks and views to Swyre Head, Kimmeridge, Gad Cliff and Portland. Around the corner, and heading inland, you will see Houns Tout with Chapmans Pool below it. Descend 218 steps into Pier Bottom. Its still Chapmans Pool 1.

5 Slowly ascend Emmetts Hills flight of steps. At the top, there are lovely views over Chapmans Pool and the valley. Over the end stile, stop for a rest at the fine bench memorial to the Royal Marines who have died in conflicts since 1945. Then, continue inland above the wide valley for mile where the path divides three ways. Take the right turn for Renscombe over the stile. Follow the clear path across two fields back to the kissing-gate into Renscombe car park where you started.


Information
Start:
Renscombe car park (grid ref SY964774). From Worth Matravers duck-pond, drive straight through for mile, passing Weston Farm. Car park is 100 yards after the tarmac road ends. Contribution box for Purbeck Heritage
Map: OS Landranger 195
Terrain: Short country lane; rough stony paths and tracks; Coast Path near cliff edges (take care); two long flights of
steps and several short steep hills
Dogs: On leads or under close control owing to cliff edges and farm animals
Public transport: Wilts & Dorset 144, except Sundays, to Worth Matravers
Refreshments: The Square and Compass at Worth Matravers (BH19 3LF) has award-winning beers and
ciders and is famous for its traditional
hot pasties and pies. The pub also has its own Fossil Museum full of locally found artefacts. squareandcompasspub.co.uk,
01929 439229

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