Winter Walk: Dorset Dinosaurs and Star Wars

Looking out to the sea from inside a cave at Winspit Quarry

One of the caves at Winspit Quarry, see if you can spot any fossils on the roof of the cave - Credit: Stuart C. Clarke / Alamy Stock Photo

On this circular walk at Worth Matravers and St Aldhelm’s Head, you will see real dinosaur footprints made 145 million years ago as well as a Star Wars film location, then swing by a legendary Isle of Purbeck pub for a pie and a pint. This walk was nominated by Guy Kerr of the Jurassic Coast Trust 

This atmospheric Purbeck walk is perfect for a post-Christmas pick-me-up, with an energising mix of flat and easy strolls, combined with more strenuous coastal ramblings. Begin at the main village car park in Worth Matravers. Pop a couple of quid in the honesty box here then set off past The Square and Compass pub (we’ll be heading back here later) and along the road heading north-east. Cross the road when you see the stile on the right-hand side of the road, after the row of houses. 

This leads you on to the Priests Way, a well-trodden path used to connect Worth Matravers with Swanage. Cross the field, which offers stunning coastal views to your right, and continue through another stile. After a short walk, you’ll see a gate on your left. If you’re travelling with a dinosaur fan (young or old), ask them to point out the ‘Dinosaur Tracks’ marking on the gate for you, it will be a real thrill! 

Through the gate and dead ahead are the Spyway Dinosaur Footprints. These 145-million-year-old trace fossils are one of the Jurassic Coast’s ‘hidden gems’, offering an incredible insight into the Jurassic Giants who once roamed this part of Dorset (when it was part of the super-continent Pangaea). The walk to and from the footprints is perfect for all ages and abilities and is dog-friendly too. Once you have had your fill of dinosaurs, head back to this legendary Dorset pub for a pint and a pasty.  

Rocky outcrops and caves at Winspit Quarry in Dorset

The disused Winspit Quarry near Worth Matravers has recently been used as a film location for a new Star Wars series - Credit: Steve Speller / Alamy Stock Photo

After you’re suitably sated, head south through the village, looking out for the walking path that leads to the coast (pick up an OS Map or ask a friendly local if you need a hand). Follow this route to Winspit Quarry, an atmospheric disused quarry that recently served as filming location for the upcoming Disney+ Star Wars series Andor.  

Explore the ghostly caverns of the quarry, if you look close enough you can see remnants of Jurassic sea creatures on the roof! Nothing like an upside-down fossil hunt. From here you can take your pick of options – head west to St Aldhelm’s Head and the lovely cliff top chapel (then beyond to Chapmans Pool), or head east past more quarrying landmarks – Seacombe Cliff and Dancing Ledge. 

View over the Dorset coast in golden winter light

Chapman's Pool can be seen towards the end of this walk - Credit: Chris Button / Alamy Stock Photo

This section of the walk is slightly more challenging, but can be adapted for different abilities by choosing when on the route you’d like to head back to the village. 

Bearded man in a jumper

Guy Kerr of the Jurassic Coast Trust - Credit: Jurassic Coast Trust

Join the Jurassic Coast Trust: Become a member of the Jurassic Coast Trust, from just £3 a month and you will support the work of the Trust in protecting 95 miles of this UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site for future generations. To buy a gift-wrapped JCT Membership pack that includes a Jurassic Coast-themed book. To buy visit jurassiccoast.org/shop.

Click here for five Dorset dog walks by the sea