Pete's Walks - Durlston and Dancing Ledge (page 1 of 2)

If you are considering walking this route yourself, please see my disclaimer. You may also like to see these notes about the maps.

Google map of the walk (very inaccurate, especially around the start in Dalston Country Park)

I did this circular walk of about 5.3 miles on Wednesday, 9th May 2018, while I was enjoying a short break in Dorset.

NOTE: When I did this walk, I had no intention of adding it to this web site, so there are some considerable gaps between some of the photos, especially near both the start and end at the visitor centre in Durlston Country Park. I only added the walk six months later, when I couldn't remember all the details of the route (again, especially not around Durlston). Consequently the description of the route is deliberately vague, and the Google map is also far more inaccurate than usual. So please just enjoy the photos, don't try to follow the route yourself from this description.

I visited Durlston Country Park specifically to look for Early Spider Orchids, and hadn't really planned on going for a walk. In fact before I got to Durlston, I'd already visited Lulworth Cove and walked to Durdle Door and back and looking for the orchids was the last thing on my planned itinerary for the day. But with help from the park rangers I very quickly found the orchids (I'd never seen Early Spider Orchids before) and it was only just after lunchtime. So I decided I'd just wander along the coast a little way. I found myself on a footpath heading west along the top of a hillside, sloping down to my left to the cliff tops. I knew the South West Coast Path ran along somewhere below me, so I hoped I might find a path taking me down to meet it, when I could follow it back to Durlston. I ambled along, spotting more Early Spider Orchids and some Early Purple Orchids too. I didn't spot any paths going down to link up with the coast path, but I kept thinking "I'll just go on as far as the next stone wall, and then turn back" and then thinking "Well, I might just as well go on to the next wall ...". It was such a lovely day, the fields were full of daisies and buttercups, and I was really enjoying the sea views (strangely, we don't get many of those in the Chilterns!). Eventually, I came to a stone footpath sign that told me that somewhere (or something) with the intriguing name of Dancing Ledge was another mile and three-quarters along the path - I couldn't resist and decided to carry on.

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A path in Durlston Country Park

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A path in Durlston Country Park

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A path in Durlston Country Park

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Early Spider Orchid - I'd left it a bit late to see them, most of them were already beginning to fade. This is a zoomed-in shot, they are tiny and if I'd not been told exactly where to look for them I'd not have spotted them.

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A path in Durlston Country Park

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After a while this path turned left to cross the small valley, then turned right to continue along the top of the hills with the coast down to my left

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A nice stone stile

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Looking back towards the country park

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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It was only when I reached this stone footpath sign that I decided I'd continue to the intriguingly named Dancing Ledge

The path was easy to follow, and a delight to walk, with the scrub-covered hillside sloping down to the cliff tops to my left. Much of the way I had a stone wall on my right (which reminds me that I saw one or two Wall butterflies along here - I'd seen some between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door earlier, but before today I'd only seen them once before at Titchwell Marsh in Norfolk). Eventually I came to a point where a paved path curved down the slope on my left to reach a path junction at the clifftop (I think there was a sign indicating this was the way to Dancing Ledge).

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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The hill-top path to Dancing Ledge

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Looking back along the hill-top path to Dancing Ledge