Scratch Arse Ware and Dancing Ledge walk

Langton Matravers, Swanage, Dorset BH19

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This tree has a macabre past - it is thought to have been used for hanging © National Trust/ Mimi Rousell

This tree has a macabre past - it is thought to have been used for hanging

The limestone grasslands are managed for conservation © National Trust/ Mimi Rousell

The limestone grasslands are managed for conservation

Dancing Ledge is the remnants of a quarry last used in the 30s © National Trust

Dancing Ledge is the remnants of a quarry last used in the 30s

Route overview

Enjoy this walk, based on an ancient field name, and the delights of scratchy gorse! You'll also pass by the former quarry of Dancing Ledge.

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Route of the Scratch Arse Ware and Dancing Ledge walk in Dorset
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Spyway car park, grid ref: SY997784

  1. From the car park go through the gate and follow the path down to Spyway Barn. Bought by the Trust in the early 1990s, the barn houses a display room highlighting local wildlife, conservation and history of the area. Spyway refers to smuggling activities that took place along the coast.

    Show/HideSycamore tree

    Look out for this sycamore tree along the walk. Its thought that it may have once been used as a hangmans tree

    This tree has a macabre past - it is thought to have been used for hanging © National Trust/ Mimi Rousell
  2. At the barn, stop and take a look at the display room to find out more about conservation in this area.

  3. Go through the gate to the left of the barn and across the first field. Head for the far gate in the second field, stopping to take a look at the sculpture of a Limousin cow, an important grassland grazer.

  4. Head through the kissing gate and turn right, following the wall across this valuable limestone grassland, until you reach a second kissing gate. Pass through this gate and continue along the fence line until you reach a field gate and Scratch Arse Ware.

    Show/HideScratch Arse Ware

    The meaning behind the Scratch Arse part of the name is unclear, although land for rough grazing is normally known as Ware. Limestone grassland here is managed for conservation without using fertilizers or chemicals. This allows a variety of wild flowers and gorse to grow, ensuring a plentiful supply of food for insects, birds and wildlife.

    The limestone grasslands are managed for conservation © National Trust/ Mimi Rousell
  5. From here, continue to walk along the wall constructed from the locally quarried Purbeck limestone. Take a rest on the bench before walking to and taking the diagonal path down towards the coast. Breathe in the gorse aroma in the spring and enjoy its vibrancy.

  6. On reaching the cliff fence at the bottom, turn left and join the South West Coast Path. From here, head through the gates, passing Dancing Ledge. Feel free to take a detour down to this part of the coast, before continuing through a third gate and taking the left fork marked Upper Path to Durlston.

    Show/HideDancing Ledge

    Dancing Ledge is a former quarry, last used in the 1930s for stone shipped to Kent. It now exists as a stone dance floor ledge.

    Dancing Ledge is the remnants of a quarry last used in the 30s © National Trust
  7. Follow the left path through the gap in the wall, bearing right in a field towards the hedgerow gap and waymarker to Langton. With the wall on your left, continue to the top and beyond.

  8. Continue along the fence line and over the stile before reaching a field gate and stone stile on the left. Use the gate or stile to enter the adjacent field and, with the wall line now on your right, continue to the gate and stile on Priests Way.

  9. Turning left, follow Priests Way, keeping right before reaching the fork and continuing right, back to the car park and village of Langton Matravers.

End: Spyway car park, grid ref: SY997784

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 3.5 miles (5.5km)
  • Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • OS Map: Explorer OL15; Landranger 195
  • Terrain:

    Uneven and steep terrain, with stiles and gates. Take care near cliff edges. Height gain of approximately 360ft (110m) over the walk; sturdy shoes or boots are advised. Dogs welcome but please keep under close control when livestock grazing in grassland areas.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: South West Coast Path joins walk at Dancing Ledge

    By bus: Wilts and Dorset 40, Poole to Wareham and Swanage. Alight Langton Matravers, High Street - Durnford Drove and follow signs to Langton House. Continue along this single track road to the right and Spyway car park

    By train: Swanage, 2 miles (3.2km)

    By car: A351 to Langton Matravers then B3069, follow signs to Langton House and continue along this single track road to the right and Spyway car park

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