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A 4.8km (3ml) walk along a stretch of coast that was once an important quarrying area.
Park in Worth Matravers village car park (can get very busy at times and, if itʼs full, there is no real alternative)
The walk takes you down the Seacombe valley, along the coast and then back up the Winspit valley. Interestingly, both have small streams which sink into the porous limestone
and dissappear before they reach the sea.
All along this coast, the cliffs are riddled with old stone quarries. Although some of the stone was carted away overland, most of it was loaded into small boats and taken to Swanage by sea.
From there it was transshipped to much larger boats for the trip to London and other great cities.
Once you get back to the pretty village of Worth Matravers, donʼt miss the splendid Square & Compasses (stone masonry museum, great range of real ales and ciders served through a hatch,
but only very limited food).
The church of St Nicholas of Myra in Worth Matravers is well worth a look if you are in the area as, apart from the chancel which was re-built in the 13th century,
it has survived largely as it was built in around 1100 AD.
The guide book quotes the Royal Commission on Historic Monumentsʼ claim that "the elaborate chancel arch and S. doorway of c. 1160 were brought from elsewhere, probably after the Dissolution".
Given the choice of building material available at that time, it was an act of extremely good taste to use Norman material contemporary with the original structure
rather than the more popular Gothic style.
Either that or the RCHM were so snobbish that they could not believe that such fine work could exist in such a rural backwater, even a rural backwater with a strong tradition of stone masonry such as Worth.
External Links and References
A extract from "An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in Dorset, Volume 2, South east" that including the RCHM description of the church. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/rchme/dorset/vol2/pp410-416
St Nicholas Worth Matravers
More information on the church from the Dorset Historic Churches Trust. https://www.dhct.org.uk/m/church.php?ref=c804df88433c2dbf783764bc4b5d6fe1
The quarries have been worked since at least 1719. During the Second World War thousands of tones of crushed stone were removed from here and used as roadstone and for airfields.
After the war the quarry continued to be worked, in a small way, up until about 1953.
Since then, they have served as the location for several classic Doctor Who episodes, and one episode of Blakeʼs 7
Several of the caves have been closed off as they are home to colonies of the rare Greater Horseshoe Bat and it is, of course, important to avoid disturbing them.