Dinosaur-footprints-Swanage
Destination UK

Dorset: Finding Dinosaur Footprints and Dancing Ledge

Posted on
March 29, 2021

Living on the Jurassic Coast, we are spoiled with some fantastic coastal scenery and the chance to find fossils on some of our walks, but did you know that you can also find dinosaur footprints, in not just one, but two locations?

One set of these are within the BH postcode, in Worth Matravers, near the costal town of Swanage.

The best place to park is the National Trust Spyway carpark, which is free for NT Members or £1 for two hours. (Postcode: BH19 3AA) and features a handy map with directions.

national trust

For those with young children, it is a straightforward flat walk, although can be muddy in places, so make sure you bring their wellies.

national trust

From Spyway car park, follow the footpath south towards the sea and turn right onto the Priest’s Way, heading west. Continue on the Priest’s Way for about three quarters of a mile, past the quarry’s on either side.

national trust

Cross over the crossroads to the quarry’s and go through the gate. After a couple of minutes walk, you will see a gate on the left hand side. It is not clearly signposted from the path, but there is a sign on the gate. 

dinosaur footprints

It is then a short walk across a field and through another gate to find the unearthed section of rock with the dinosaur footprints.

dinosaur footprints

More than 140 million years ago, dinosaurs gathered by the shores of a shallow lagoon in what is now Dorset. Incredibly, there are over 100 tracks left behind, although some are more visible than others.

dinosaur footprints

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.

dinosaur footprints

These long necked, plant eating dinosaurs could reach 50 tonnes and measure more than 25 metres from nose to tail and it is thought that the site may have been a watering hole as the prints were left with a number of different individuals, including a juvenile.

dinosaur footprints

From the site of the dinosaur footprints, we then decided to to head down to Seacombe and the south west coast path.

south west coastpath

If walking with young children, this is a great place to see farm animals, but it gets quite steep and tricky underfoot, so I would recommend heading back to the carpark and drive to see the fossils at Kimmeridge.

southwest coastpath

At Seacombe, you can turn left and head towards Dancing Ledge, but we decided to scramble down to the coastal ledge in the hope of spotting some nesting puffins.

southwest coastpath

We didn’t spot any birds, but it is the perfect location to stop and watch the waves as they crash over the ledges.

southwest coastpath

As we walked back up towards the path, we spotted the old sea-cliff quarries and have made a promise to head back to explore them another time.

southwest coastpath

The walk to Dancing Ledge does take you over moderate hills and there are areas where you can scramble down to be closer to the sea.

southwest coastpath

Dancing Ledge itself is well signposted, with a choice of 4 stiles to clamber over, as it is a very popular area for climbers and coasteerring.

southwest coastpath

There are steps down to Dancing Ledge and although it was less of a scramble than Seacombe Cliff, I would recommend a sturdy pair of shoes.

southwest coastpath

Dancing Ledge is a flat area of rock at the base of a small cliff and gets its name because, at certain stages of the tide when the waves wash over the horizontal surface, the surface undulations cause the water to bob about making the ledge appear to dance.

dancing ledge

Dancing Ledge is most known for the tide-filled swimming pool that was blasted out of the rock for local school children and is now popular with wild swimmers, although it is not an easy place to climb down to.

dancing ledge

Apparently there used to be a ladder, but now there are a choice of two areas to climb down. If you do attempt it, don’t do it when it is wet as the rocks are covered in slippery seaweed and you do have to jump.

dancing ledge

Because of its location and the tricky climb back up to the carpark, it doesn’t really get busy, so is a wonderful location to enjoy nature and escape the tourists.

dancing ledge

Did I mention the climb back up?

dancing ledge

This photo really doesn’t do it justice – it’s a real challenge!

dancing ledge

Thankfully once you’re back up the top, it is a flat route back to the carpark.

Have you got a dinosaur lover in the family?

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14 Comments
  1. Reply

    Sabina Green

    March 29, 2021

    What an amazing part of the UK to live in, so much history! We love Dorset but have not been in a while now.

  2. Reply

    Sona Rajput

    March 29, 2021

    Hey, thanks for sharing about Dorset, definitely a place to shortlist soon! The photos were great and Dorset really looks amazing and untouched, especially the nature spots. I guess the way to keep the budget down would be to shop at a local supermarket and make some of your own food? This place looks like Heaven on earth. Thanks for a great article!

  3. Reply

    Lyndsey OHalloran

    March 29, 2021

    That climb back up looks sooooo hard! Good for a nice day out though.

  4. Reply

    Pati Robins

    March 30, 2021

    Now thats a truly lovely way to spend the day exploring plus the views are simply breath taking . Dorset is on our wish list of places to visit

  5. Reply

    Claire Lomax

    March 30, 2021

    Actual dinosaur footprints!! Thats awesome! My children try to find them whenever we go out walking anywhere. I mean anywhere… Outside tesco has several apparently!!

    This looks like a great walk with an incredible view x

  6. Reply

    Sarah-Marie

    March 30, 2021

    Dorset has long been on my bucket list of places to visit. My two both love dinosaurs so I love the idea of visiting the dinosaur footprints.

  7. Reply

    Talya Stone

    March 30, 2021

    Great timing! As we are heading down to Dorset once restrictions are lifted so I’m going to keep this handy for when we do.

  8. Reply

    Mudpie Fridays

    March 31, 2021

    OMG!! My two would love this and they are dinosaur mad, I am going to see if we can incorporate a visit during our adventures this summer as I don’t think we are actually too far away. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  9. Reply

    Kara

    April 1, 2021

    There is also Tout Quarry in Portland 🙂

  10. Reply

    Natasha Mairs

    April 1, 2021

    This looks so beautiful. I would be so excited to see real dinosaur footprints. I will have to visit one day

  11. Reply

    Laura Schwormstedt

    April 5, 2021

    Wow what a fantastic place to explore, my boys would love this!! We have some fossils in South Wales on the coastline and it’s one of our fave days out so this Dorset spot is going on the list, thanks for sharing

    Laura x

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KARA GUPPY
Bournemouth

Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk