Godlingston Heath walk at Studland, Dorset
Middle Beach car park, Studland, Dorset BH19 3AXRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
This walk encompasses breathtaking views right across the heath to Little Sea and Studland Bay. It also takes in the Agglestone, an enormous block of iron-rich sandstone that stands as a prominent feature in the landscape.
- Bus stop
Start: Middle Beach car park, Studland village, grid reference: SZ035828
From the car park walk up Beach Road. At the top turn left between the toilet block and the village pond. Take the narrow snowdrop path at the top of the green. It will take you past an ancient pear tree and the remains of an old stone cottage, before bringing you out in front of Studland Stores.
Cross the main road and continue along Heath Green Road. Note the orchards on your left, the apples from which go towards making our delicious Old Volunteer Cider (available from the Knoll Beach café). Turn right down Agglestone Road and follow the track up behind the houses. As you reach the end of the track, keep your eyes peeled for Dartford warblers and stonechats.
You can spot Dartford warblers all year round, feeding on insects among bushy gorse. During the harsh winter of 1962-3 their numbers in the UK fell to just 10 pairs. Their current population of more than 3,000 pairs is due to milder winters and improvements in the conservation of their heathland habitat.
The kissing gate at the end of the track brings you onto Godlingston Heath. Follow the path uphill onto Black Down Mound, where you will be rewarded with wonderful views to your right across the heath to the coastline, with the impressive Agglestone in the middle distance.
Folk tales tell how the Devil, sitting on the Needles Rock by the Isle of Wight, caught sight of Corfe Castle in the distance. In his anger he threw his cap across the sea, intent on demolishing the grand structure. But his missile fell short and stands to this day on Studland Heath. In reality the Agglestone is a 400-ton ironstone remnant of the Bagshot beds, which covered the present heathland thousands of years ago.
Continue along the ridge and, when you meet the gravel track, turn right. At the crossroads, turn right and follow the path down to the Agglestone. From here you can see Little Sea in the distance: an acidic freshwater lake that was cut off from the sea around 100 years ago.
You may be lucky enough to see a sand lizard: a very rare and protected species in Britain. During the mating season the males turn bright green. The females lay eggs in the warm sand to incubate and the young emerge in late summer.
Take the path that leads down the slope on the other side of the Agglestone and follow the path through the mire. This wet heath is an important habitat for sundews, bog orchids and bog asphodels. Look out for dragonflies and damselflies. Where the path forks, turn right heading towards the trees.
Turn right at the next junction, heading into the woodland. Then turn right again over the bridge and continue through the bridle gate. Just after Wadmore Farm House, you will see an old brick kiln on your right.
After passing the kiln, take the footpath on your right. It is immediately after, and runs adjacent to, the bridleway. At the next junction, follow the footpath round to the left. As the track widens, keep to the right and continue along the footpath in front of you until you reach Heath Green Road. Turn left and follow the road back towards Studland Stores.
Cross the main road and follow the snowdrop path then Beach Road back to your starting point.
End: Middle Beach car park, Studland village, grid reference: SZ035828
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- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 3 miles (5km)
- Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- OS Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck)
Gently undulating with a few slopes but no steep uphill walking. Some areas can be muddy after wet weather. Dogs are welcome under close control. Due to ground-nesting birds, please keep dogs on leads between March and September.
- How to get here:
By foot: From the bus stop in the centre of the village, walk along the main road away from the chain ferry (towards Swanage) for about 50 yards, as far as Studland Stores and Post Office. Join the walk at route detail 2
By bike: Leave the National Cycle Network Route 2 where it joins the Ferry Road and head into Studland
By bus: Wilts and Dorset number 50 from Bournemouth or Swanage. Or from Poole, number 52 then number 50. Then follow foot directions
By car: Follow B3351 from Corfe Castle (9 miles) or from Poole via the chain ferry. Postcode is BH19 3AX
- Parking and toilets at Middle Beach
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