Chapman’s Pool is a quiet little spot at the rugged end of Dorset.
It’s not a tourist-Mecca but it’s well-worth a visit if you like places that are out of the ordinary and if you like hills and the sea.
Chapman’s Pool itself is a rough-cut cove in the depths of the Isle of Purbeck. It’s not easy to get to either by car or on foot and when you do get there, one of the best things about it is that there probably won’t be that many others around.
Like Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole, Chapman’s Pool is something of a work in progress for Mother Nature. Having broken through the harder, outer layers of rock the sea has now started to munch its way inland and outwards to form a horseshoe-shaped indentation in the coastline.
Chapman’s Pool lacks the near-complete enclosure that Lulworth Cove has, but it does have a raw and untouched quality that Lulworth doesn’t. There are no shops, no visitor centres, in fact nothing much more than a boat house or two. In short, Chapman’s Pool is probably what Lulworth Cove would have been like if it hadn’t been just that little bit prettier.
But that’s not to say that Chapman’s Pool is Lulworth’s ugly sister, far from it. Rather it is the sporty sister that shies away from fancy frocks and make-up and looks just as gorgeous fresh-faced and clear-skinned!
Whereas the approach to Lulworth Cove is through visitor centres and tourist shops, the approach to Chapman’s Pool is through open and high countryside. Even those who arrive by car will have to walk at least a mile or so, there and back, just to see it.
The nearest car park is about half a mile west of the picturesque village of Worth Matravers (see Google map, immediate right). Here you can leave your car in a drystone-wall-surrounded compound and strike out on foot across well-signed and well-trodden paths.
The landscape here is pretty, in a slightly bleak way, and largely characterised by arable farming, until that is, the high flat land drops away precipitously.
To the west it drops into a green and steep-side valley and to the south it drops, by way of rock-strewn cliffs into the sea. And where the valley meets the sea, you’ll find Chapman’s Pool.
The descent to the cove is steep and in places uneven, but it is a pretty walk on a good day and when you reach the bottom you’ll find a rocky beach that’s the sort of place to sit and ponder the mysteries of life, nature and how you’re going to summon the energy to climb back out again!
And there are several options for routes out.
You could simply retrace your steps, or you could go East or West along sections of the South West Coast Path. There are also several circular walks, mostly very well-signed, which take in Chapman’s Pool, St Aldhelm’s Head, Worth Matravers, Winspit and Dancing Ledge in various combinations.
None of these places are particularly deeply burned into the tourist trail of Purbeck, not least because you’re unlikely to go through any of them to get to anywhere else. Though Worth Matravers can be well-frequented by day trippers (and there’s a good-sized car park in the village), to get to the coastal gems that surround it you’re going to need to like walking. And if you do, you’ll be well-rewarded for your efforts exploring the paths to and around Chapman’s Pool and the surrounding area.
If you’re looking for a few hours out and about in the fresh air when your only real expenditure is going to be calories, this is as good a place as any. It’s also the sort of visit you can easily tag on to a day at Corfe , Swanage or Durlston and an alternative energy venting expedition for days when Tyneham and the Lulworth Ranges are closed.
If you’re looking for a few hours out and about in the fresh air when your only real expenditure is going to be calories, this is as good a place as any. "