Winspit is a disused quarry to the South of Worth Matravers on the coast of the Isle of Purbeck. You’d be forgiven for thinking that sounds as interesting as water in a ditch. Forgiven, but wrong nonetheless!
Winspit is one of those amazing places that make a good walk even more worthwhile. Not only do you have the magnificent scenery from whichever route you choose to access it, but you also have something to marvel at, gawp at and explore!
Think quarry, and think hole in the ground. This is as true of Winspit as it is anywhere else, except that whilst you’re thinking of a hole that starts at the top and goes down, Winspit quarry is made up of holes that start at the edge and go sideways!
More rock mine than opencast pit, Winspit was worked right up to the Second World War and was then taken over by the military for the duration. And why wouldn’t they? Winspit is just what you’d want if you were firing guns at an enemy and they were firing back at you!
The quarry is made up of an assortment of galleries tunnelled into the cliff-face to allow stone to be extracted for monumental building works - often in major cities like London. The much-valued rock was quarried and then shipped away from the cliff edge only a few tens of metres away.
What the quarrymen left, the military must have considered to be excellent, ready-made bunkers.
Today, the Winspit Quarry remains privately-owned and there are prominent signs warning that the beach, quarries and surrounding cliffs are dangerous and that visitors to the area do so at their own risk. Camping and climbing are specifically banned here. And falling rocks are a hazard.
Even so, the quarry sits on the junction of the footpath from Worth Matravers with the South West Coast Path and makes a picnic spot like no other.
The “beach” is more rocky ledge than golden sands, but there’s also the cliff top to enjoy views of the sea and Jurassic Coast scanning East and West.
If you feel it’s safe to, you can also explore the cavernous galleries that remain open. There are many in the area although some have been closed off to protect both the public and the rare bats that live in them. Those that remain open are impressive both for their size and the seemingly gravity-defying way in which they stay up when a whole strata of rock has been removed!
All in all, Winspit is well worth a visit for the curious casual walker and an interesting diversion on the South West Coast Path for the more serious rambler. In addition to the path from Worth Matravers, it can be reached from the West via Chapman’s Pool and St Aldhelm’s Head and from the East via Dancing Ledge and Durlston.
If you visit and decide to explore the quarries and the cliffs, heed the warnings and make sure that you and yours don’t fall off the rocks or have rocks fall on you!
Oh, and beware of aliens too. Winspit quarry has featured in episodes of both Dr Who and Blake’s 7, including taking a turn as “Skaro”, the home planet of the Dalek’s! Clearly if you bump into Davros or one of his Dalek buddies on your visit you’re going to be completely beyond help. Winspit’s too far off the beaten track to take a sofa to hide behind!
Winspit is one of those amazing places that make a good walk even more worthwhile. Not only do you have the magnificent scenery from whichever route you choose to access it, but you also have something to marvel at, gawp at and explore "