Quarryman's Ways walk
Acton car park, Langton Matravers, DorsetRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This circular walk visits former quarries in an area important for the production of Purbeck stone.
- Bus stop
Start: Car park north of Acton village, grid ref: SY988787
From car park, follow the lane through Acton, passing a modern quarry on your right.
At T-junction, turn left, and walk about 440yd (400m) to stone stile, passing information board on your right.
An important feature of the Purbeck historic landscape, dry stone walls follow manorial boundaries that have been there for more than 1,000 years. Snaking northwards from the sea, each manor would have had a section of coast for fish, limestone ridge for stone, fertile land in the valley (Wealden clay) for crops and chalk downland for grazing. The stones are carefully chosen for size and shape by the waller and it's said that once he's picked up a stone he doesn't put it down again until he's found a place for it in the wall.
Turn left at the stile and follow track through two fields to quarrymens cottages on your left. Continue to the road.
Male skylarks hover in the middle air singing their distinctive trilling song as they try to attract a mate. Its this song which will most likely alert you to their presence the birds themselves are between 6 and 7in (16 and 18cm) long and can be difficult to spot as they typically sing from between 165 to 330ft (50 to 100m) above the ground. When not displaying, skylarks spend much of their lives on the ground, foraging for seeds and insects. They also nest on the ground, laying three to six eggs in June.
Cross the road and turn left. Take the first track to your right, past Court Pound Cottage. Continue to Norman's Quarry (information board).
This quarry was sunk by the Norman family at the beginning of the 20th century and was in use until the Second World War. The stone was quarried by a single person working by candlelight. Stone blocks were brought to the surface by wagon, dragged along underground galleries and up the slide by a chain winding round a capstan, held in place by a wooden yoke fixed into two massive crabstones. The capstan was turned by a pony or donkey tethered to a long pole called a spack. The stone was worked on the surface in open-fronted sheds. The quarry was restored by the National Trust in 1993-4.
As you leave Normans Quarry, bear left towards the shed. About 45yd (40m) before the shed, turn left along a grassy path with a bank on the right. Bowers Quarry is straight ahead.
Follow the footpath to the left of the quarry, over a stile and across the field to the right of a drystone building known as a quarr house.
Go through the gate and continue diagonally up the slope of the next field. Climb the last stile by the red telephone box and cross the road to the car park where you started.
End: Car park north of Acton village, grid ref: SY988787
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 1.5 miles (3km)
- Time: 40 minutes
- OS Map: Landranger 195; Explorer OL15
Mostly flat, gravel tracks and grassland, some stiles. Dogs welcome under close control.
- How to get here:
By bike: From Swanage, take Langton Matravers road. Walk starts about 0.25 miles beyond village. From Corfe Castle, take Swanage road to end of village then turn right, signposted to Kingston. At top of hill, bear left and follow road to Burngate Stone Centre entrance. Start is at red telephone box
By bus: Wilts and Dorset 40 from Swanage, or Wareham to Acton
By car: From Kingston direction, turn right at red telephone box, just before Langton Matravers, towards village of Acton. Parking on right
- Telephone: 01929 450002
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/purbeck-countryside/