Studland woodland walk

Knoll Beach Visitor Centre, Ferry Road, Dorset, BH19 3AQ

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
Relax on the golden sands at Knoll Beach © Nick Meers

Relax on the golden sands at Knoll Beach

The Discovery Centre at Studland Beach and Nature Reserve, Dorset © National Trust

The Discovery Centre at Studland Beach and Nature Reserve, Dorset

Little Egret ©

Little Egret

Route overview

This is a great walk for wildlife enthusiasts, as there's lots to look and listen out for along the way, including birds, reptiles, deer, fungi and a variety of insects.

  • Grade of walk: Flip Flop (easy and lots of fun)
  • Type of walk: 'Waterside Walks', 'Flora & Fauna'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Studland Woodland Walk Map
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Discovery Centre car park, grid ref: SZ033836

  1. The walk starts from the track at the far end of the Discovery Centre car park. From the gate, follow the broad track into the woods and after 50m take the first left at the orange marker post onto a narrower footpath. Follow the path round as it bends to the right, passing another orange marker post. Here, heather and bracken grow alongside wood sage and bluebells. Listen out for the birds, there are lots here, including willow warblers and woodpeckers.

    Show/HidePeace and quiet

    Only a stone's throw from Bournemouth and Poole, Studland feels a million miles away. Famous for its glorious golden sands and dunes, stretching from the Sandbanks Ferry to the rocky headland of Ballard Down, it's an area of high biodiversity. In the summer, thousands of people come to enjoy one of the best shorelines in the UK, yet only a few metres inland it's possible to have the whole place to yourself - your own private beach.

    Relax on the golden sands at Knoll Beach © Nick Meers
  2. The bank that the path cuts through is an old field boundary, last used in the 1800s. Dead wood is left on the land as it provides food and shelter for insects. You may just see some sika or roe deer or hear the loud whistling call of the sika stags in the autumn breeding season.

    Show/HideStudying at Studland

    Although the Studland landscape looks completely natural, there are fascinating Second World War relics hidden along the shoreline which once guarded the coast from potential invasion. In 1999, the National Trust built a study centre, incorporating many environmental features, which attracts educational groups from all over the country. Topics studied include habitat comparison, sand dune profile and succession, tourism management, sustainable living, environmental management and coastal processes, features and erosion.

    The Discovery Centre at Studland Beach and Nature Reserve, Dorset © National Trust
  3. At the junction go straight on towards the bird hide. The ditch on the right is a haven for dragonflies and damselflies, and in spring it is a mating ground for frogs and toads.

    Show/HideBack to nature

    This area is a designated National Nature Reserve and home to a profusion of rare species. There are more plants here than in any other place in Britain. Not only is the area important for botanists, but its also a haven for reptiles such as the rare sand lizard and smooth snake. Little Sea is a wonderful hidden lake squeezed behind the dunes where visitors can watch shelduck and little egret. Sika deer are also commonly seen. Unusually - being so close to the sea - areas of wet woodland have formed where you can find an assortment of colourful fungi.

    Little Egret ©
  4. The bird hide overlooks Little Sea, a freshwater lake about 1 mile (2km) long. Over 350 years ago it was part of Studland Bay, but was gradually cut off to form a lagoon as the sand dunes built up. In the winter there can be as many as 3,000 birds on the lake.

  5. Retrace your steps back to the junction and turn right. The long glade was once an enclosure for grazing animals, which have since been replaced by a spectacular display of flowers in spring, and later on by bracken which attracts food for bats.

  6. The path takes you through carr woodland, where the trees grow in wet ground with ferns, mosses and liverworts growing around the bases. Keep going on the path and as you walk into an area of aspen trees, look out for white admiral butterflies swooping through the glade on warm summer days. Follow the path to the gate then take the track back to the car park.

  7. We hope that you really enjoyed this one-mile walk. The National Trust looks after some of the most spectacular areas of countryside for the enjoyment of all. We need your support to help us continue our work to cherish the countryside and provide access to our beautiful and refreshing landscapes. To find out more about how you too can help our work as a volunteer, member or donor please go to

End: Discovery Centre car park grid ref: SZ033836

In partnership with

Cotswold Outdoor logo © Cotswold Outdoor
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1 mile (1.6km)
  • Time: 30 minutes to 40 minutes
  • OS Map: Landranger OL15
  • Terrain:

    A circular walk with fairly easy terrain; most of the walk is on flat sandy ground. Dogs welcome all year round, but please keep them on a lead of less than 2m anywhere on the beach between 1 May and 30 September. From 1 October to 30 April dogs can be walked on the beach off the lead. Please respect others all times and pick up after your dog, using the dog bins provided.

  • How to get here:

    By bus: Wilts and Dorset 50, Bournemouth to Swanage route to Shell Bay and Studland. Bus stop opposite Knoll House Hotel, 3 minute walk

    By train: Branksome and Parkstone, both 6.5 miles (10.4km) (via vehicle ferry); Wareham 12 miles (19.3km)

    By car: From Poole take chain ferry from Sandbanks towards Studland. Before reaching village, turn left off ferry road towards Knoll beach. From Corfe Castle take B3351 to Studland, go through Studland village then turn right to Knoll beach. Park in the Discovery Centre car park

  • Facilities:

    • Parking, shop, cafe and toilets at Knoll Beach

  • Contact us