More than 140 million years ago, dinosaurs gathered by the shores of a shallow lagoon. Incredibly, the tracks they left behind are still there today.

More than 100 fossilised tracks are preserved in a flat layer of rock at Keates Quarry (accessed from Spyway car park) one of the places where south Purbeck’s tradition of stone production continues.

Take a closer look

More than 100 fossilised dinosaur tracks are preserved in a flat layer of rock near Keates Quarry (accessed from Spyway car park – see below). The tracks date back to 140 million years ago when this area was covered in tropical forests and swamps. The footprints were probably made by giant sauropods such as Brachiosaurus.

The large number of tracks in one place suggests this area may have been the site of a watering hole where dinosaurs gathered to drink.  Over time, the footprints they left in the soft mud were covered over by layers of rock and preserved as fossils.

The fossils were discovered in 1997 by quarrymen Kevin Keates and Trev Haysom when the Quarry was still being worked.

In 2016 they were opened to the public with an information board telling the story of the footprints and the dinosaurs that made them.

Park at  National Trust Spyway then follow the footpath south towards the sea and turn right onto the Priests Way, heading west. Continue on the Priests Way for about three quarters of a mile – the dinosaur footprints are signposted on the right, just past the turning for Acton.

(c) National Trust

Explore Spyway

National Trust Spyway is an area of farmland that stretches from Langton Matravers to the South Purbeck coast. Characterised by towering sea cliffs and grasslands rich in wild flowers.

This is a distinctive limestone landscape on the South Coast where sea birds soar and rare orchids hide among rich grasslands. Centuries of stone quarrying have left their mark in the form of sea quarries like Dancing Ledge, popular for both picnics and adventure sports.

  • Watch the birds – look out for puffins, shags and guillemots in and around the sea. You may also see kestrels and peregrine falcons and hear the croak of the raven as they fly overhead
  • Discover rare plants – during May and June along the coast you may see orchids, such as the rare Early Spider Orchid
  • Take a dip – try the cool waters of the rock cut ‘swimming pool’ at Dancing Ledge
  • Try your luck at fishing – you could catch a mackerel or a sea bass from Dancing Ledge
Dancing Ledge (c) Tony Gill

Walk (or cycle) a little or a lot ....

The opportunities for walking and cycling in this area are almost endless – you can have a gentle stroll with sea views or a whole day hike. Here are some suggestions:

On Foot:

  • Short walks: If you have an hour or less, the National Trust recommend the Spyway Sea Saunter, a short circular walk, starting at Spyway – with a stunning view guaranteed! MORE INFO HERE
  • Priests Way: Follow in the footsteps of a medieval priest as you walk along the ancient track known as the Priests Way. The route passes between quarries and across open fields with spectacular views along the way. The walk finishes near one of Dorset’s most famous pubs. MORE INFO HERE
  • South West Coast Path: This National Trail follows the coast from Old Harry’s Rocks in Purbeck right round to the north Somerset coast – well marked, you can head off from Spyway in various directions for plenty of fresh air and sea views. MORE INFO HERE 

By Bike:

  • Purbeck Cycle Rides is a 47 mile, long distance route for the dedicated cyclist, taking in stunning coastal views, beautiful rural landscapes and interesting historic landmarks. Can be done in shorter sections.
  • For Foodies our Dorset Pedal trail – takes you on an interesting, food themed cycling trail of the area! Cycle around Corfe Castle and the Purbeck Ridge.
Coastal walk (c) Graham Herbert
Dorset Food and Drink fresh produce

Get a taste of the AONB

Dorset Food & Drink celebrate and support the great tastes of our outstanding landscape and there’s lots to choose from in this area.