Down and Old Harry Rocks
Starting point and OS Grid reference:
lay-by on the B3351 (SZ 017819)
Ordnance Survey Map
OL15 - Purbeck & South Dorset
Date of Walk:
2 July 2019
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Introduction: This walk
to Old Harry Rocks is an easy circular ramble. It takes you along the flat,
grassy ridge of Ballard Down, which, as the name suggests, is a chalk
downland and part of the Purbeck Hills, to Old Harry Rocks. The views along
this ridge are truly spectacular stretching over Poole Harbour on the north
side and over Swanage on the south.
There are a number of barrows,
funerary monuments dating from the Late Neolithic/Late Bronze Age periods,
on Ballard Down. They are Scheduled Ancient Monuments.
The far point of the walk is Old
Harry Rocks, or perhaps it should now be singular! At one time there was Old
Harry and Old Harry's wife. However a storm in 1896 put paid to the wife so
only Old Harry, a chalk sea stack remains. However there are various other
interesting rock formations, which make this a spectacular section of coast.
There are steep drops so beware the edges.
The village of Studland occurs
at about the half way point where there is a good pub, The Bankes Arms to
take on sustenance. Alternatively, there are ample grassy spots above the
cliffs for a picnic.
Shortly after the start of the
walk, you climb up the flanks of Ballard Down. This is quite a long steady
pull worthy of the Amber marking but it is straightforward. At the top of
the climb is an obelisk. Most of us expect obelisks to commemorate war
dead or an individual but this particular one was erected in 1883 to
celebrate the provision of a new supply of drinking water for Swanage. I
think this gives an impression of how important and novel the provision of
piped, fresh drinking water was in those days, something we today take for
granted. This grand monument was taken down in 1941 to prevent it being used
as a landmark by the German bombers. It was re-erected in 1952.
The walk starts from a rough
lay-by on the B3351 between Corfe Castle and Swanage. Assuming travel
direction from Corfe Castle, after three miles from Corfe Castle, pass a
large parking area on the left at a view point. The lay-by from which the
walk start is a further three quarters of a mile on the left, not far past
Purbeck Golf Club.
From the lay-by (SZ 017818), turn left and walk along the road a few yards. Note the
walkers' gate in the lay-by is where you will return. Cross a stile on the
right indicated by a public footpath fingerpost.
a look out for flying golf balls and time your crossing so as not to
interfere with golfers and walk straight across the golf course to the left
of a bench, then bear left into the trees. The route is marked with dark
through the trees and continue to follow the path downhill. It curves right,
still going downhill. The last section was a little overgrown with bracken
when I did the walk but it was possible to make out the route. Cross a stile
which takes you on to the road (SZ 018815). Ignore the yellow arrow pointing right and
turn left along the road. This road was quite busy so care is needed but you
are only on it for about three hundred and fifty yards.
out for a small rough lay-by on the left at which there is a bridleway sign
pointing right (across the road). Turn right along the broad track of the
bridleway, to climb the hill, passing a bridleway fingerpost pointing to Old
obelisk is soon in view. Head for it. The views over Swanage and Poole
Harbour open up.
the obelisk (SZ 022813), continue along the obvious broad track.
the trig. point (SZ 044813), bear right to go through a walkers' gate and follow the
path just to the right of the fence.
the path round the point to see Old Harry and the other rock formations.
the rocks, follow the clear main track to Studland. When you reach the
tarmac road, turn right for Studland, passing public toilets and the Bankes
on the road and just as you reach the Pig Hotel, turn left at the road
junction, along the road (SZ 036827).
the village pond, more public toilets, then turn right along the road
following the sign for Poole and Bournemouth via Toll Ferry.
after passing the telephone box and bus stop, turn left, following the
footpath yellow arrow. A sign in the wall says "Studholme" (SZ
the gates of the Studland Treking Centre, turn right to follow the yellow
arrow and almost immediately to the left of some large gates.
the well marked path, ignoring some misleading turns to the right. Join a
broad track at a 'T' junction and turn left (SZ 031826). Follow this until you come to
another broad track on the right (There are a couple of tracks off to the
right before this but ignore them.) Just after this, turn left following a
yellow arrow and a a green arrow plus a sign "Heatherside Walls".
a broad track and keep straight ahead following a row of houses on the left.
After the houses, through a kissing gates and the route reverts to a more
normal footpath. Keep straight following the yellow arrow but ensure you
take the left hand, narrower path, not the tempting broader track to the
joining a broader bridleway, keep straight ahead, avoiding the turn to the
you gently climb, you will see the obelisk start to appear in the distance
on the left and views over Poole Harbour appear to the right.
at a junction with another path. There is a green National Trust arrow
pointing right but you should keep straight ahead following the blue arrow.
start to follow the edge of the golf course. Follow the obvious path to its
left hand side, clearly segregated from the course.
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