Walking & Trails in Swanage

Are you planning a coastal break in a location that has lots of options for walking and hiking? Swanage is a brilliant destination for walking holidays all year round with both coastal and countryside trails to choose from.

Swanage is situated within a designated National Landscape and there are 95 Public Rights Of Way, totalling nearly 34 miles in length in the local area. The coastal path along the Swanage coastline from St. Aldhelm’s Head to Old Harry Rocks stretches for 11 miles, with the cliffs being part of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage Site.

For keen hikers there are trails that link with other villages, enabling you to walk sections of the 630 mile South West Coast Path, which also follows the length of the Jurassic Coast. Plan your route to link up with the award-winning Purbeck Breezer or Jurassic Coaster bus routes and Swanage Railway with their vintage steam and diesel engines.

Whatever your personal ability, you will find trails to excite you, many with constant views of the sea. There are plenty of gentle walks and sightseeing trails, just a stroll along the seafront and restored Victorian Swanage Pier is a pleasure.

You’ll be within striking distance from show-stopping sights including the iconic Corfe Castle, Old Harry Rocks, Durlston Country Park and 145-million-year-old dinosaur footprints along the Priests Way walking trail.

Other big-name coastal attractions are within easy travel distance – Durdle Door, Poole Harbour and Brownsea Island.

Step back in time

For a hike with history, The Purbeck Way walking trail links Swanage with the village of Corfe Castle, either via St. Aldhelm’s chapel (13 miles) or via Ballard down (9 miles). Both routes can be planned to link with either the bus or train for a return ride back to Swanage.

Join a 90 minute guided walk (no booking required) with a local historian from Easter to the end of September on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 2pm from Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre. Uncover the history of Swanage with an enjoyable stroll, stopping off to enjoy the Victorian architecture, discover the war time history and the connections to London and quarrying.

Guided walks are regularly held on Swanage Pier to hear about the local history, or alternatively you can pick up a self-guided walking route with illustrated map and timeline exploring the Victorian history of the town from Durlston Country Park Visitor Centre or download the leaflet yourself.

Guided walks

Let our expert leaders guide you. The WALX Festival takes place every September, providing approx. 30 guided walks across Dorset, with a choice of fantastic guided walks taking place in Swanage. If you are not planning to visit Swanage during September, the Walx guides can also provide bespoke guided walks all-year-around, helping you discover all the best views, with information and friendly company along the way.

Jurassic Jaunts walking guides also offer half or whole day walking tours for groups of up to 20 people to discover the highlights of Swanage. Discover the Jurassic Coast, walk to Old Harry Rocks or walk the cliff top trails gazing down at the hidden coves. Learn about local history including World War II, the wildlife and local folklore along the way, or they can create the best route for your interest.

History, family and nature guided walks take place at both Durlston Country Park and on Swanage Pier. Join a Park to Pier guided walk with one of the Country Park Rangers which occur monthly at weekends. 

Walking events

An all-year-round programme of guided walks and talks is run from Durlston Country Park, including castle tours and spring walks to see the flowers and wildlife of the nature reserve. Also, look out for the Swanage Pier guided history talks and the summer Town History Guided Walk leaving from Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre. Groups bookings can also be taken for these events.

For keen hikers there are walking challenge events including the Purbeck Plod, which is a 25 mile, 16 mile or 12 mile route starting and finishing in Swanage. The Jurassic Coast Challenge charity event (walk, run or jog) has three different distance lengths. The Big Hike Jurassic Coast is a charity hike with full or half marathon distances. The WALX Festival in September is 7 days of guided walks in Swanage and across the Isle of Purbeck.

Find out more about events in Swanage.

South West Coast Path challenge

A new scheme has been launched to recognise the personal challenge of completing this famous national trail. The South West Coast Path Passport is a booklet which can be stamped at official points all along the trail to help you record your achievement (and takes inspiration from other famous trails like The Camino de Santiago in Spain).

Swanage Information Centre is the first (or last!) point on the South West Coast Path to gain your official stamp.

The next stamping points along the route is The Etches Collection (a museum of marine life fossils in Kimmeridge) and Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre.

The South West Coast path website features a distance calculator which shows the gradients of routes along the coast path.

Making trails more accessible

Durlston Country Park have tried to find ways to make the enjoyment of their trails more accessible for all, including information about the length and difficulty of their trails and by providing a range of aids to help you explore.

The Country Park now has Audio toursBritish sign language tours and 2 all-terrain Tramper mobility scooters to hire for visitors who have difficulties with mobility or walking long distances.

Explore Dorset's history with a Swanage walking trail created by the Stepping Into Nature project. It is a 90 minute (1.2 mile) route exploring the rich history of the town, gardens and seafront. Read more and download the leaflet with historic photos.

Planning your hike

  • To accurately plan your routes, download the Ordnance Survey map number OL15 or purchase a printed copy from Swanage Information Centre.
  • Choose one of our suggested easy-to-follow and free to download mapped routes for self-guided walks.
  • Join a guided walk or book a guide for your tour group.
  • Choose from a great range of leaflets and maps of suggested routes at Swanage Information CentreSwanage Museum and Heritage Centre or Durlston Country Park.

Reasons to choose Swanageas your base

Group Travel

Coach parties, educational visits, walking groups and more are welcome in Swanage.


Swanage is the only town in Dorset to have its own Astronomy Centre and Observatory.

Sustainable Holidays

If you're seeking a sustainable destination to visit, consider Swanage for your next break.

Attractions and Activities

From heritage attractions and crazy golf to sea fishing and diving, whether on land or at sea, there's lots to do...

More to see and do...


The award-winning central beach is Swanage's pride and joy - great for a walk at any time of year.

Markets and Shopping

As well as lots of small, independent shops, there's also a weekly market in Swanage every Friday.

Things To Do Nearby

There are many small villages nearby to Swanage which can easily be reached on foot, bike, car, bus...