Subscribe to our newsletter None saved

Walk - Studland to Swanage

3D Fly Through

View a 3D fly through of the route using the Google Earth plugin

Hide the 3D fly through

Route Description

A spectacular walk that takes you from the village of Studland past the famous landmark of Old Harry – the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site - and on to Swanage. There are superb views over Poole Bay to Bournemouth and across the Solent to the matching cliffs of the Needles on the Isle of Wight. There are good opportunities for bird and butterfly watching and a rich variety of wild flowers in spring and summer.

  1. Walk past the Bankes Arms, the name of which acts as a reminder that much of the area was part of the Kingston Lacey and Corfe Castle estate – left to the National Trust by Ralph Bankes in 1982. Take the path on the left (signed with a Dorset ‘tombstone’ Coast Path sign) when you reach the public toilets.

The Bankes Arms pub, the name of which acts as a reminder that much of the area, was part of the Kingston Lacey and Corfe Castle estate – left to the National Trust by Ralph Bankes in 1982.

The route now takes you along the coast through fields that the Trust has returned to pasture after years of cultivation. The underlying chalk provides the right conditions for many of our most attractive wild flowers – these now carpet the ground throughout the spring and summer and attract plenty of butterflies. Some are migrants which have reached the south coast from the continent – look out especially for red admirals, painted ladies and clouded yellows.

Contrast the open grassland with two small woods – Warren Wood close to Studland and Studland Wood just before Handfast Point. These are both traditionally managed hazel coppice, sections of which are cut down to ground level every few years. The harvested poles can be used for fencing and hurdles, while the combination of open and shaded areas makes for a healthy ground cover of woodland flowers including wild garlic.

Looking back towards Studland you will see the impressive sweep of Studland Bay leading up to the busy entrance of Poole Harbour.

At Handfast Point you can look across to the Isle of Wight and contemplate the fact that the two were once joined by a continuous ridge of chalk. This was breached by the sea as sea levels changed during the last Ice Age. Old Harry and the other offshore stacks here are evidence of the continuing processes of coastal erosion. These striking chalk stacks and natural arches were created by wave erosion. The sea eroded weaker spots in the chalk to form arches which gradually get bigger until they eventually collapse and leave a seaward pillar as an isolated stack. They were once part of the chalk ridge which led right out to the Isle of Wight. Old Harry is the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.

The 200 cliffs are home to many seabirds – the largest cormorant colony in Dorset, fulmars and the great black-backed gull can be seen all year. You may also glimpse a peregrine falcon, and in summer, house martins nest on the cliffs.

The high-level route continues from Handfast Point and the much-photographed rocks of Old Harry.

The path leads out to Ballard Down. Keep a look out for nesting seabirds and the beautiful Chalkhill Blue and Adonis Blue butterflies enjoying the chalk-loving plants of Ballard Down.

  1. Follow the South West Coast Path as it descends towards Swanage.
  2. Except at very high tides or in severe weather, it is possible to walk along the narrow promenade, from the sea front road. It is reached by going down in a little valley some rough steps. After about 200 yards/185m along the beach turn up to re-join the official route on a grassed area on the cliff edge
  3. Continue forward into the chalet estate. Turn into Ballard Way and continue until at a shop and post-box turn sharp left onto Redcliffe Road. Continue ahead as the road becomes Ulwell Road.
  4. The Coast Path passes along the town’s sea front into town.

The small seaside town of Swanage was once an important quarrying port, as well as a popular destination for tourists. It continues to attract many visitors. It is home to Britain’s oldest diving school, an attractive Victorian Pier, and the Wellington Clock Tower. Up until 1867, the Clock Tower had stood at the southern end of London Bridge.

Public transport

A frequent bus service (Bus 50) from Poole to Swanage stops in Studland Village. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

 

Anvil point and Tilly Whim Caves - Evening Light Photographer Roger Lane (2013 Photo Competition entry)

Anvil point and Tilly Whim Caves - Evening Light Photographer Roger Lane (2013 Photo Competition entry)

Add to rucksack

Nearby Events

Nearby Walks

Loading weather...

Latest News

Latest Events

  • Axe Vale & District Conservation Society Bird Watch

    Axe Vale & District Conservation Society Bird Watch - Monday 8th September

    Axe Estuary and Surrounding Area

    Join Ian Waite for a fascinating morning of birdwatching.           

    Date:               Monday 8th September 2014

    Time:               09.30 onwards

    Venue:             Meet at Axmouth Bridge lay by

  • Ocean City Festival

    Plymouth’s annual Ocean City Festival (8th – 28th September) returns bigger and better in 2014. The festival is designed to offer a fun and engaging way for families and visitors to enjoy the city, taste great food, see fascinating marine life, experience inspiring art and music and learn about a world beneath the waves. The event also aims to raise awareness, nationally and internationally, of Plymouth’s role as a leading UK marine city, for research, leisure, heritage and local produce. 

  • Big night out on the beach!

    Big night out on the beach! 

    Sat 13th Sep

    National Trust and South Devon AONB

    South Milton Sands

    Join us for our annual evening of fun and activities on the beach! Watersports taster sessions, rockpooling, bird walks, star gazing, children’s activities, refreshments in the Beach House café and more! (Bring a clean jam jar if you want to make a lantern.) Free (small charges for watersports sessions and car park).

    No need to book - just turn up!

    6pm until late.

    Meet at South Milton Sands, South Milton SX 677414

  • Earth's Studio- Art Workshops II

    Lynmouth Pavilion
    Saturday 13th September
    11am - 4pm


    Join us for an inspirational walk in the woods and use soil and plant pigments to create printed collages of magical mosses, fabulous ferns and lovely lichens. Prepare to get messy as you get up close and personal with these hidden gems!


    Please bring a packed lunch and stout footwear. Also wear suitable clothing as the session may get a bit messy. You may also with to bring a camera. Meet at the Pavilion.


    Booking is essential for these free workshops. Visit www.wildaboutplants.org.uk/events to book your place.

  • Minehead Summertime Tasters

    Minhead Events will be organising a Food & Drink event called Minehead Summertime Tasters that ties in with the CAMRA Real Ale Festival at the West Somerset Railway on 13-14 Sept. 

    This will include local food producers based in the Beach Hotel offering taster sessions, also they hope to have the YMCA doing taster sessions and creative menus.

  • Inside Out on the South Dorset Ridgeway

    This September, from Friday 19th – Sunday 21st inclusive, 9 new artistic commissions will animate the stunning South Dorset Ridgeway, easily explored via the South West Coast Path. Inside Out Dorset Festival is presenting free outdoor events and artworks, will be situated in the village of Littlebredy, Black Down, Ashley Chase and the spaces between.

  • Swanage & Purbeck Walking Festival

    The Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival

    Saturday 20th - Sunday 28th September 2014

    The beautiful Isle of Purbeck is a walker’s paradise. From coast to country, the variety is unsurpassed.  go to the Walking Festival website for more details

  • Guided Walk - Moonfleet

    Join a guided walk around Moonfleet exploring the literature and history of this atmospheric place nestling in the shadow of the South Dorset Ridgeway.  In association with the South West Coast Path's 'Great South West Walks'

  • Seafood Festival

    As part of the Ocean City Festival Plymouth’s Seafood Festival (Saturday 27th & Sunday 28th September) will showcase the fantastic quality of seafood available in Plymouth, both local and celebrity chefs will create a range of mouth-watering dishes from the catch of the day.  

  • Tales of the Exmoor Coast

    27th Sep 2014 4:00pm-8:00pm

    Hear folk lore, fable and fact about Exmoor's coast from Exmoor National Park Ranger Tim Parish, then we invite you to add your own! Interactive and entertaining - come and share your stories...

    This event is brought to you by: Lynmouth Pavilion Project
    Location: Lynmouth Pavilion EX35 6EQ
    Booking: Booking not essential but would be helpful
    Charge: Free event
    Contact: 01598 752509