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Things to do at Spyway

A dawn view of the rocky cliff edge and waves along Dancing Ledge, part of Spyway Farm, Dorset
Dawn view of Dancing Ledge | © National Trust Images / Joe Cornish

Discover towering sea cliffs and grasslands rich in wild flowers at Spyway in Dorset. Stride out on a walk along the South West Coast Path, and walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Birds soar and rare orchids hide along this part of the coastline, which offers spectacular views of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site as far as Portland.

Walking at Spyway

Pull on your walking boots and choose from a number of walking trails, or why not come back and complete them all?

You can easily explore South Purbeck via a network of footpaths including the South West Coast Path and the Priest’s Way, both of which offer spectacular sea views. Follow the Dorset coastline and walk along the clifftops or head inland to discover rolling countryside and picturesque villages including Worth Matravers.

Stay safe

The South Purbeck coast is steep and in places unstable. Please stay well back from cliff edges as there is a risk of them giving way. Always wear appropriate footwear and clothing. There is no mobile phone signal along much of the coast, which can significantly delay rescue in the event of an emergency.

A view of waves crashing against Dancing Ledge, part of the Spyway Farm Estate, Dorset
Waves crashing against Dancing Ledge | © National Trust Images / Joe Cornish

Sharing the landscape

Cattle graze the area around Spyway so please stay at a safe distance, keep dogs on a lead and take your litter home with you. Please keep clear of farm machinery. People visit Spyway for many reasons, from walking and enjoying nature to coasteering and climbing. Like most places, south Purbeck is busier than it once was, but tranquillity is still available to those who seek it out. Please respect other visitors and give them space.

Take in the views

Stunning sea views and lush grassland criss-crossed by dry stone walls await walkers along this stretch of the coastal paths. Centuries of stone quarrying have left their mark on this dramatic part of the coastline in the form of sea quarries such as Dancing Ledge. The undulating clifftops and hidden coves offer spectacular views as you make your way along the coast.

An adult and children explore the fossilised dinosaur footprints in the rock at Keates Quarry on the Dorset coast
Discovering the dinosaur footprints at Keates Quarry | © National Trust Images / Rob Coleman

Discover dinosaur footprints at Spyway

Just off the Priests Way near Spyway you can literally walk in the footsteps of the dinosaurs that roamed Purbeck 145 million years ago. More than 100 fossilised tracks are preserved in a flat layer of rock at that was discovered when this land was being quarried in 1997.

The footprints were probably made by brachiosaurs, a type of dinosaur from the group known as the sauropods, which included the largest land animals that ever lived. Long-necked plant eating dinosaurs such as these could reach 50 tonnes, or five times the weight of a modern elephant, and measure more than 25 metres from nose to tail.

How the footprints came to be here

At the end of the Jurassic period when the tracks were laid down, Purbeck was a subtropical wilderness of coastal forests and swamps. The large number of tracks in one place suggests that this place may have been the site of a watering hole where dinosaurs gathered to drink. Over time, the footprints they left in the soft mud were covered over by layers of rock and preserved as fossils.

Spot seasonal wildlife

This area is rich in plant life, including the rare early spider orchid. The field to the west of Dancing Ledge is the best site in Britain to spot this tiny jewel when it flowers in late April or early May. Wildflowers including horseshoe vetch and cowslips provide splashes of colour in spring and summer, as well as attracting rare butterflies like the Adonis blue and Lulworth skipper. Puffins, guillemots and razorbills make their nests on the cliffs below.

View of a grassy meadow with a stone sign post near Dancing Ledge at Spyway, Dorset
Grassy meadow near Dancing Ledge, Spyway | © National Trust Images / Jon Bish

Go on a coastal adventure

If you're feeling adventurous, a day with an outdoor activity provider can be a great way to enjoy places like Dancing Ledge safely through activities such as coasteering.

The providers licensed to operate at Spyway are:

  • Land and Wave
  • Brenscombe Outdoors
  • Jurassic Watersports
  • Cumulus Outdoors
  • Fore Adventure
  • Jim Oakley Adventures
  • Young's Adventure Solutions
Waves crashing against the Dancing Ledge on the Spyway Farm Estate in Purbeck, Dorset.

Discover Spyway

Find out how to get to Spyway, where to park, the things to see and do and more.

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