Worth Matravers is a small, picturesque, Dorset Village on the edge of the Isle of Purbeck. It sits just a mile from the sea, but is far from “bucket and spade”.
Built from locally quarried limestone, Worth has a hint of the Cotswolds about it. In the past, the village has prospered variously from fishing, farming, quarrying and, more likely than not, quite a bit of smuggling! It also played an important part in the development of Britain’s World War II radar defences.
Sitting atop green hills at the head of a valley looking out to sea, Worth Matravers, is without doubt a pretty and unique village. It’s probably a great place to live, but, at first glance, it’s not so easy to see what is has to offer the casual visitor. It does, nonetheless, have a 200 space car park. So clearly there’s something good going on!
Worth Matravers does have an amazing pub, the Square and Compass. Its standard fare is pies, pasties and pints. But don’t knock it for that, it is a watering hole that feels like it’s come straight from a Hardy novel or a period drama and the discerning visitor will love it.
The village also has a tea shop, a duck pond and a Norman Church, but it’s hard to see that even these, lovely though they are, would justify the size of the village car park where for £2 you can stay all day.
It’s true that on-street parking in the village is tricky and mostly prohibited by double-yellows and the narrowness of the highway. It’s also true that Worth Matravers was an important experimental radar station during WWII, at one time hosting around 2,000 personnel. But there’s not much to see of that any more.
So why do people come? Simple. It’s a great place to go for a walk. With nearby public footpaths and National Trust and Countryside Access land Worth Matravers is a great place to set off to the coast and for walks along the South West Coast Path taking in several unique geological and manmade features. These include, Chapman’s Pool, Winspit and Dancing Ledge, all of which are in easy walking distance of Worth Matravers for the reasonably fit and able-bodied.
For the very young and the less physically fit the trackways and pathways from Worth Matravers and along the coast path may be more of a challenge due to steepness and the uneven nature of some routes. Realistically, this is not terrain for buggies - all terrain or otherwise, not least because of several steep sets of steps.
That said there are plenty of options that will allow you to pick a circular route to suit you and your companions. For example you could walk to Chapman’s Pool andSt Aldhelm’s Head, or to Winspit or Dancing Ledge or any combination of the above. Judicious selection of routes will give walks of anything from 2 miles upwards. The more adventurous could even strike out towards Durlston and Swanage to the East or West to the Lulworth Ranges and Durdle Door.
All of which helps to explain why an otherwise sleepy little Dorset village needs a car park for 200. It probably also helps to explain why its wonderful little pub has survived whilst others like it have long since closed down. There’s nothing like a good walk to give you a thirst - and nothing like a beer or a cider from a traditional Dorset pub to help you slake it!
If you fancy a longer walk, you can link up with the South West Coast Path to head East or West or there are circular walks via Chapman’s Pool to the West or Winspit, Dancing Ledge and Worth Matravers to the East. "