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Unspoilt beach, farmland and cliffs on the Jurassic Coast

Spend a day on this quiet stretch of the West Dorset coast where you can take a walk across the cliff tops above Ringstead, bring a kite, or pack a picnic and follow one of the steep ancient tracks down to the shingle beach. The water is incredibly clear and safe for bathing.

Part of the Jurassic coastline, on a fine day there are great views across Weymouth Bay to Portland. If you walk out to White Nothe, you will pass above Burning Cliff which once caught fire due its composition of oil shale and iron pyorites.


A male chalkhill blue butterfly

The chalk grassland around Ringstead is home to a profusion of birds, rare butterflies and wild flowers.

Winged wonders: Skylarks and butterfly varieties, including chalk-hill blue and Lulworth skipper

Wildflowers: Knapweed, field scabious, lady's bedstraw and bird's foot trefoil

The undercliff beneath White Nothe was formed by recurring landslides over the centuries. This tangled area is a haven for wildlife including roe deer, foxes and badgers.

Walk into spring

A couple walking the South West Coast Path near Ringstead Bay in Dorset © National Trust

A couple walking the South West Coast Path near Ringstead Bay in Dorset

Spring is a great time to get out and explore this beauty spot. You could follow some of the spectacular South West Coast Path, eastwards to White Nothe or heading west towards Weymouth.The path is still quiet, and on blue-skied spring days the views are incredible.

Or take one of several tracks (an extremely steep one known as Smugglers' Path is not advisable for young children) down to the bay from the National Trust car park.

Southdown Farm HLS scheme

One of the newly created ponds, which should retain water all year round © National Trust/Michael Clarke

One of the newly created ponds, which should retain water all year round

Ringstead regulars will have noticed some dramatic changes to some areas of farmland here. The work we've been doing might look destructive but it's actually part of a project to enhance the wildlife conservation value of Southdown Farm. From clearing invasive scrub to making new ponds, it's certainly been keeping us busy.

Dogs welcome

Ringstead is a very dog friendly place. The coast path is perfect for a good leg stretch and dogs are allowed on the beach all year round. There's also a large grassy area at the National Trust car park for a good run around.

Please just remember to keep your pet under control where livestock are grazing, and of course bin and bag poos.

A holiday in Dorset

We've got a great range of places to stay in West Dorset. Fancy a back to basics camping experience on the Golden Cap Estate?

Or how about a cosy cottage from which to explore all those Broadchurch filming locations? For a touch of luxury there's Portland House, a stylish villa with unforgettable views just along the coast near Weymouth.

50 things activities

Tick off some 50 things to do before you're 11¾ challenges on your visit:

  • Fly a kite - in the fields above the bay
  • Jump over waves - usually gentle here
  • Skim a stone - on the pebbly beach
  • Create some wild art
  • Swim in the sea - it's a safe, sheltered bay