It was summer at last so we headed out for our first exploration of the Dorset Jurassic Coast. We headed to the seaside resort of Swanage on the Isle of Purbeck (not an island but a promontory of low hills and heath land jutting out to sea.
The walk we intended to do started from the Durlston County Park following the South West Coastal Path for a start around Durlston Head and then across the hills , into Swanage and then back to the park by the coastal path.
Walking along the cliffs was just perfect in the glorious sunshine. The underlying rock of the area is limestone so the vegetation was grasslands. In the 19th and 20th centuries the Isle of Purbeck was quarried for its high-quality limestone. The only trace of old mine shafts today are the Tilly Wim Caves which we passed on the path. The Tilly Whim Caves were worked predominantly during the eighteenth century when the demand for limestone was high to build fortifications along the south coast. Quarrymen used only metal punches, wedges and hammers to split the rock into workable blocks, as they mined the stone horizontally out of the cliff face. A dangerous but skilled job.
Further along our trail took us into the hills behind the coast providing us with great views of the surrounding countryside and Swanage. We ate lunch overlooking the bay and Swanage before descending into the town. The town, originally a small port and fishing village flourished in the Victorian era, when it first became a significant quarrying port and later a seaside resort for the rich of the day. It was very busy with today’s tourists.
After exploring the town we headed back along the coastal path, a climb but with great views to the county park. It had been a great walk.