Studland, Old Harry Rocks, Ballard Down

April 2016, We are beginning to explore Purbeck now the better weather has arrived.   We drop off one of our sons at a local South Coast university and duty done, we drive over to Studland via the wonderful Chain Ferry.

On the drive down from the Midlands, we noticed that the further south we drove, the more yellow gorse we saw.  It always brings back memories of childhood holidays by the sea.  Once off the ferry, the gorse was abundantly yellow everywhere.

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We drove over to Studland village and parked in the National Trust car park next to The Bankes Arms.  To save on money, we took a packed lunch with us, knowing we would be eating out later as my birthday treat.  Having eaten in the car, we donned our walking boots, hats, gloves and waterproofs.  Despite the spring sunshine, it was rather chilly and I was glad I was wearing my layers!

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We walked off down the hill, past the public toilets and took the track off to the left towards Old Harry Rocks.  If you are there in spring time, look carefully for wild primroses in the verge.  The path gradually climbs up, but it’s nice and easy.  Once we were up on the open flat, there was a field of curious bullocks all wanting their photos taken. photogrid_1460720711181.jpg

We carried on walking up the headland.  The weather gave us reasonable views over Poole harbour, Bournemouth,  the cliff stacks that form Old Harry’s Rocks and further out to the Isle of Wight.  I adore being in this environment, soft grass under my feet, sheep, hill, and sea.

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From Old Harry Rocks, we followed the coast up the hill.  In the middle of the flank of Ballard Down,  we had a choice of 2 footpaths and took the path to the right.

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We turned away from the coast and walked inland, passing one of the lowest trig points I have seen.

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It’s a long and pleasant walk on the top to the end of Ballard Down with great views and plenty to discover along the way. We found the Stone Seat (which is inscribed with “D.J. 1852”), several sign posts marking other footpaths and the Obelisk is hidden in the distance.

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The ‘Swanage Water Act Obelisk’ is fairly well hidden from afar, possibly because it is not very big, and partly because it is tucked below the summit in front of a large round ancient barrow.  The Obelisk was placed here to commemorate the introduction of clean water into Swanage.

Ballard Down ends quite sharply with views over towards the next hill.  We had a steep decent along a track at down the side to the road.

Crossing the road, we walked to the left for a 100 yrds or so and over a stile, taking a track up the field and into a narrow wood.  Still climbing we came out of the woods, and found  a nicely positioned bench for a quick breather and a peek at the map on the edge of the golf course.  Our route took us across the golf links and over the next road back onto National Trust heath land called Agglestone Rocks with plenty of yellow gorse, bracken and semi wild ponies.

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We made our way back towards the village, and the outcrop of rock passing wild ponies amongst the gorse.  Coming off the heathland, past a row of 1920/30’s houses, we found masses of wild primroses everywhere.

photogrid_1460732754020.jpgWe continued past the fields, lost our bearings and went a little too far west. We ended up going through a wood back on to a lane which lead to the main road.  From here we turned right and walked towards Studland village.  Our route took us down a path to our left into a little wooded chine with a small stream and the most wonderful smell of wild garlic.

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At the end of the chine, we met a crossroads and were on the home stretch.   Going directly over the junction, down the lane passed the well known Pig Restaurant, we were almost back to the car ready for a well deserved drink.

Dinner was a lovely meal in the Bankes Arms with a great pint of draught cask ale.  It’s not often you see a pub with this many hand pumps.  They also have several real ciders straight from the box too.  You can see them in between the first 2 hand pumps.

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Places nearby

Shell Beach, Knoll and Middle Beach

Studland today is a place for all seasons.  From bucket and spade fun to watersports, beach games and blow-away-the-cobwebs walks.

The beaches of the Studland peninsula stretch from the Old Harry Rocks north to Shell Bay.  A chain ferry provides a link to Poole and Bournemouth. (See below)

Chain Ferry   The ‘Bramble Bush Bay’  vehicle chain ferry  crosses the entrance to Poole Harbour between Sandbanks and Shell Bay.  This is the shortest route and quickest route connecting Bournemouth and Poole with Swanage.

Bankes Arms   This award winning Inn is built of old Purbeck Stone and is reputed to date back to 1549.  It overlooks the Studland Beach, the Isle of Wight and the start of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

Pig On the Beach Restaurant A 23 bedroom mellow country house perfectly situated along Studland Bay. This is a real get-away location,  with great views of the long stretches of sandy coastline.

Purbeck Way  The Purbeck Way is a spectacular walk within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

South West Coast Path  Whether you’re looking for an afternoon stroll to take you to a beautiful view, or for a challenge like no other, the South West Coast Path has it all.

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