The Townsend Nature Reserve is located on the southern side of Swanage and overlooks the bay across to Ballard Down to the north-east and along the Purbeck Hills towards Corfe Castle in the west.
The Townsend fields were quarried for Purbeck Limestone for centuries and this has left many mounds and hollows. There is one remaining open quarry shaft at the north end of the reserve.
The reserve covers 30 acres (13 hectares) and is home to a wide mix of wildflowers including many orchids.
In the spring and summer there are cattle grazing in the reserve and horses grazing all year round.
There are several public rights of way across the reserve including to Durlston Country Park and the Priests Way to Worth Matravers.
The paths are unsurfaced and mainly short grass but some have uneven ground and lose stones.
The nature reserve was made a Site of Special Scientific Interest SSSI in 1977.
You can access to the Townsend Nature Reserve on foot from Townsend Road, via the Hoburne Park estate or via the old Dump Road off Panorama Road. Access is also available via Durlston Country Park.
OS Map Reference SZ0226578004
Dogs are welcome in the reserve, but please keep them on a lead. Clear up after them. There is a dog waste bin on the North-West entrance to the reserve.