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Langton House

Dorset, England

The coastal path to Durlston Head walking and hiking route

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Walk Instructions

Start Point

Starting from Langton House enter the lane running alongside the complex, known as Durnford Drove and make towards the coast via Spyway Barn, which is soon evident. A waymark to Dancing Ledge confirms the way.

Continue towards the sea, following a steep descent to Dancing Ledge (see Walk No 1) then swing left along the well used “South West Coast Path” all the way to Durlston Head.

The route passes above Blacker’s Hole, noted for its seabird colonies. The two sets of mile marker posts are used by the Royal Navy - for speed trials - and the lighthouse at Anvil Point, built in 1881 following a disaster at sea in 1874 near Peveril Point, when the “Wild Wave” was shipwrecked. Also the “Caves” at Tilly Whim, where limestone was quarried. In 1887 George Burt, the owner of the Durlston estate and nephew of John Mowlem the founder of the building contractors, opened the caves as a tourist attraction and these remained open until 1976 when rock falls caused the caves to be deemed unsafe. Tilly Whim contained a thick band of freestone, a valuable type of Purbeck limestone, for which quarrymen mined horizontally into the cliff face.

After the stone had been cut into workable sizes the slabs were lowered using a donkey-powered whim on to “stone boats” which in turn transported the stone to “bankers” yards at Swanage, prior to shipment elsewhere.

Keeping to the coastal path all the way, seek out the dolphin watch cabin and the bird watching gallery, before reaching the final attraction - the Globe Stone at Durlston Head. The Globe was another of George Burt’s projects. It weighs 40 tons, is 10ft in diameter and consists of 15 sections. The globe was produced at Mowlems Greenwich yard in 1887.

Continue a little farther on the coastal path with fine views of Durlston Bay and Peveril Point to emerge at the castle (another of Bart’s projects) - where refreshments can be obtained.

We abandon the coastal path for the return leg.

From the castle head up the driveway towards the car-park and swing left immediately, to walk alongside the perimeter wall. Follow an obvious route that eventually merges with the access road to the lighthouse. Along the way a Purbeck stone quarry is encountered, complete with the donkey powered whim (or Capstan) and the “Sledge”.

Continue towards the lighthouse, but a short distance before reaching it peel off to the right, at an open gateway. A butterfly indicator points the way.

Make towards a gate, then rise to a similar opening close to the high point. Beyond the second gate take a few steps to the mound directly ahead and pick out a wide gate situated about ½ mile ahead. That’s the desired destination, but a labyrinth of paths exist, ahead. Simple rule - keep the sea in sight!

The distant gate is the exit from the Country Park. Don’t be tempted by the offer of something warmer!! California.

The general direction never changes, although the route isn’t a straight line. The golden rule being to maintain the higher ground, and for much of the way you’ll have a “guardian” wall, to your right.

In detail from the California option. Press ahead veering slightly right to pass through an open gateway (Waymarker - Dancing Ledge, 1¾). The next focal point is the N.T., Belle Vue sign, and a really awkward stile to negotiate. Onwards through a gate (two earthenware sinks when I passed by).

(I was intrigued by the method of wall construction in Dorset and, what can truthfully be described as “stone stacking” rather than building. Thousands of tons of stone involved).

Next seek a stile situated twenty yards left of another gate and proceed to a further stile leading into an open field (end of wall guardian). An obvious path curves left to descend, then ascends to a stile and then a gate. Fifty yards farther on - turn right, pass through a gate and return to Langton House via Spyway Barn.

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Disclaimer: This route was correct at time of writing. However, alterations can happen if development or boundary changes occur, and there is no guarantee of permanent access. These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that neither HPB Management Limited nor any other person connected with Holiday Property Bond is responsible for the safety or wellbeing of those following the routes as described. It is walkers' own responsibility to be adequately prepared and equipped for the ‎level of walk and the weather conditions and to assess the safety and accessibility of the walk.

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