Walking route: Worth Matravers and Emmetts Hill
- Credit: Archant
This challenging coastal walk rewards your efforts with spectacular views along the Jurassic Coast
I recently acquired two Ordnance Survey maps, one 1937 and one 1970, both showing the Coast Path between Chapman’s Pool and St Aldhelm’s Head, two of the points on our walk, at much nearer sea level. It’s not there any more, coastal erosion and landslips finally claimed it. Instead we’re now treated to a longer cliff-top walk with stunning views and no soggy clay underfoot. The old route was famously feared by walkers and geology students, and tales of rescue from clinging mud are legion.
At St Aldhelm’s Head, the isolated 12th-century chapel stands, unusually with its corners pointing to the cardinal points of the compass. Here also is the Lookout Station manned by Coastwatch, and the 2001 sculptured memorial to the RADAR workers based nearby during World War Two, designed by Worth-based artist Tony Viney and unveiled by legendary physicist and radio astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell.
Winspit Quarry is typical of the sea quarries in Purbeck. Good quality stone is still there in abundance but, due to transportation costs, only quarries near a road still produce stone in Purbeck.
1 From the car park, walk down the lane, passing a footpath for ‘Hill Bottom ¾’ right and the Square and Compass on your left. At the T-junction with the Purbeck stone egg, bear right down the hill into Worth Matravers village. Keep right to pass the left duck pond and continue up to St Nicholas’ Church. Go round the left and right bends. In 100 yards, take the right 1½ gates into the play area and follow the signed ‘Hill Bottom’ footpath along the left wall up to the corner stone stile. Over, follow the stone wall
and cross the drive into the enclosed footpath. Through the end half-gate, follow the left hedge up the high field with lovely views left. Over the next stone-slab stile, continue down the left hedge with Swanworth Quarry ahead.
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2 Over the next corner stile, pass a ‘Hill Bottom’ stone and follow the path down into a valley with the quarry’s boundary bank right and under trees. Reaching steps and a stile, go over onto the Hill Bottom bridleway track, signed ‘1¼ Chapman’s Pool’. Turn left and follow the wooded valley path. Past a right fork path, bend left to join the Tarmac lane. Turn right for ‘Chapman’s Pool’. In 200 yards, before the facing gate, turn left onto the ‘Coast Path St Aldhelm’s’ bridleway track. Through facing 1½ gates, fork left onto the ‘Coast Path St Aldhelm’s Head 1¾’ stone-marked path, ascending steeply out of Hill Bottom. Reaching the top of West Hill, bend left along the Coast Path with Houns Tout cliff edge to your right above Chapman’s Pool.
3 In 200 yards, pass the left ‘Renscombe’ footpath, then pass the Royal Marines Memorial garden. Go over the footpath-stile and keep following the Coast Path with increasingly spectacular views along the west coast. Suddenly, you’re going down a flight of steps, hundreds of them, from West Hill to Pier Bottom, and up the other side to Emmetts Hill. Stop frequently to admire the views and catch your breath! Then, after a brief halt at a stone bench to recover, continue along the path with exciting drops between sentinel rocks and with beautiful views beyond Kimmeridge to Gad Cliff, Worbarrow Tout and far beyond. Reaching the Coastguard Lookout Station and St Aldhelm’s Chapel, have a look around before continuing along the Coast Path past the Radar Establishment memorial and the old quarry below it.
4 In another mile, the path bends around the top edges of Winspit stone quarry before steps lead down to a wider track. Turn right to visit Winspit but return and go up the footpath-track for Worth Matravers. Continue along the slowly rising tree-edged valley track until you reach a left bend. Continue into the minor path straight ahead, passing the left waterworks. Go through scrub to a half-gate into a long valley field. Follow the path up the left slope to another half-gate by the ‘National Trust East Man’ plaque. Your valley track was between the twin ridges of East Man on your right and West Man on your left. Into the narrow fenced path, reach London Row. Walk into Worth Matravers, arriving at the garden and duck pond then return to the car park where you started.
Distance: 4¾ miles (7.5 km)
Time: 4 hours
Exertion: Quite strenuous, especially West Hill and its steps
Start: Car park at Worth Matravers £2
Grid Ref: SY9747762
Map: OS Landranger Sheet 195
Public transport: Morebus 44
Dogs: On leads where there is livestock and on cliff top
Refreshments: The Square and Compass for ale and pies