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Exploring Dorset | Spectacular Sandbanks & Swanage

Exploring Dorset | Spectacular Sandbanks & Swanage

If you’re in Dorset in 2018 and fancy adding to your family adventures? Perhaps your kids would love the hike, scramble and climb to the bottom of Dancing Ledge just outside Swanage near the Sandbanks peninsula.?… Maybe if you’re feeling especially adventurous (and have your own climbing gear) you could even challenge yourself to navigate along the narrow ledges or up through the natural staircases….

Heading across on the quaint chain driven Sandbanks ferry (motorhome friendly!), we’ve headed towards Swanage and Dancing Ledge and the South West Coastal Path. If you had to choose anywhere for a final stroll through the British countryside, you’d be hard pushed to choose better than this scenic coastal path. On a clear day from the wave cut ‘climbing platform’ at Dancing Ledge the views spread out for 70 miles or more across to France. (Full Climbing details and parking information here)

Sandbanks & Dancing Ledge

Having climbed it prior to having our girls, we reckon it’s as good as it gets for family climbing on the south coast. And certainly matches experiences such as our climbs in Eidfjord, Norway Split, Croatia or Penally in Pembrokeshire, Wales!!! 

But be prepared as this place gets packed each summer….. perhaps less so on a brisk cold winter’s day in December. So we’ve taken the chance to head south from York to walk a part of the South West Coastal Path with one of the girl’s godparents to get an idea of where we’ll return next summer to climb!

As regular readers of our travel blog will know, we’ve spent the past year trying to ‘road school’ across Europe . Discovering daily that a great family day out doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated. Sometimes just going for a walk can be fun, educational and offer a chance to make special memories together and share some quality time.


So we’ve headed out to explore the South West Coast Path. England’s longest long-distance footpath, it stretches for 630 miles, running from Minehead in Somerset, along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall, to Dorset. What sets it apart from  other UK national trails is that around almost every corner is yet another surprise. Unlike many other walking routes this path is not a modern creation. On the South West Coast Path you re-trace the footsteps, histories and lives of old tin miners, fisherman, smugglers.


There are tons of reasons to explore coastal walks or even taking children up mountains. Yes, it’s good for them (and you). And yes, it’s great for family bonding. Just seeing Libby, with a gigantic grin on her face, standing on a mountain top (e.g. Mt Blanc, Pic du Midi, Mt Etna or Glen Coe), looking at the world unfold below her, and thinking, “I climbed that!” – well, you’ll remember that experience for the rest of your life won’t you…(just like some of these below)



Although we’ve only touched a small part of its 630-mile adventure, it’s certainly whetted our appetite for more. Surging around the end of England, it snakes through a World Heritage Site, a National Park, fishing villages, ink-black cliffs and utterly gorgeous bays.


With plenty of gentle stretches as well as dramatic headlands, steep coastal valleys, sheltered estuaries, busy harbours, intimate coves to enjoy enroute….. we can’t wait to return in the summer!!!


In terms of those worried about accessibility or if you have a pushchair? No problem. They have a useful elevator that covers all three levels of the attraction (in fact it even has a bubble lift through the giant tank with the sharks!) Plus you’ll love the quality of the food in the well priced cafe overlooking the Humber Estuary…. a family meal out for under £25 was a bargain not to miss!

It really does seem like an aquarium created with the customer in mind……. and as an entrance ticket is valid for a year of ‘revisits’, we’ll certainly be back to see more later in the year…. 

Ever wanted to visit Yorkshire? here’s a few ideas to get you started

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About The Author


Ever wanted to pack your bags, just jump in a motorhome and go off and explore Europe as a family? Well, that’s exactly what my family has done since September 2015. Visiting 35 European countries, travelling over 54,000 miles and grabbing over 450 family experiences on the way… enjoying Bobsleigh in Norway, Climbing into Mt Etna in Sicily or Kayaking the River Dordogne.

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