Studland village walk in Dorset

Studland Stores, Ferry Road, Studland BH19 3AE

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St Nicholas' Church is well worth a visit © National Trust

St Nicholas' Church is well worth a visit

The Bankes Arms was reputedly once a haunt of smugglers © National Trust

The Bankes Arms was reputedly once a haunt of smugglers

Old Harry Rocks seen from South Beach at Studland, Dorset © National Trust

Old Harry Rocks seen from South Beach at Studland, Dorset

Route overview

There’s more to Studland than just its beaches. Take a gentle stroll through this unspoilt village to discover its history, flora, fauna and the stunning geology of its surrounding landscape.

Route details

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

Route of the Studland village walk in Dorset
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Studland Stores, grid ref: SZ034825

  1. From Studland Stores, walk down School Lane, adjacent to the shop. Ahead you will see a Saxon stone cross and a thatched cart shed, which has information about both inside. Look out for wildflowers, including a bank of sweet violets in spring. Manor Farm tea-room is to your right.

  2. Turn back on yourself to take the road signed to the church. You will pass Manor Barn on your right. Although it isn't open to the public, it's an impressive building with a slate roof dating from the 18th century.

    Show/HideThe Church of St Nicholas

    You can visit this attractive Norman church, dating from the 12th century. Built on Saxon remains, traces of the 7th-century Saxon building are still evident, although Roman burials found beneath the church indicate it has been a religious site for much longer. The churchyard is sympathetically managed for wildlife, containing many wildflowers and plants for encouraging birds and butterflies. The yew tree here is thought to be more than 500 years old.

    St Nicholas' Church is well worth a visit © National Trust
  3. As you come out of the church door, turn right and follow the path right round the back of the building, heading towards the sea. Look out for the gap in the fence, where you turn right to cut diagonally across the car park, heading towards the pub.

    Show/HideThe Bankes Arms

    The pub is reputed to date back to 1549. In the mid-1800s, South Beach was one of the principal landing places for smuggled goods on the south coast. There was much speculation that the landlord at the time was heavily connected with the smuggling trade. Nowadays, the Bankes Arms is home to the Isle of Purbeck micro-brewery, which you can see through the window next to our membership hut.

    The Bankes Arms was reputedly once a haunt of smugglers © National Trust
  4. If you want to avoid the steps, take the footpath opposite the entrance to the pub car park to join the coast path. Otherwise turn right and walk in front of the pub down Manor Road. Just before the public toilets, turn left towards South Beach, following the path next to the stream. At the end turn left to stroll along the beach. Straight ahead you will see a concrete pill box from the Second World War next to sandstone cliffs. Inside, iron oxides have created a beautiful colourful marbling effect. Just before the end of the row of beach huts, take the steps up to join the coast path.

    Show/HideView of Old Harry Rocks

    From the top of the steps look back to see the lovely view across to Old Harry Rocks. This is the name given to the chalk stack that marks the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The stack was formed by the sea gradually eroding the softer chalk around the harder bedrock to create a cave, which eventually eroded right through to make an arch. The arch then collapsed to leave the stacks of Old Harry, No Man's Land and the gap of St Lucas' Leap. In the 1770s, people could still walk from the headland of Handfast Point to Old Harry. Old Harry's Wife was still a stack until her eventual collapse in 1896.

    Old Harry Rocks seen from South Beach at Studland, Dorset © National Trust
  5. Keep following the coast path, the large building you see on your left is the Manor House Hotel. You can visit the concrete observation post of Fort Henry, complete with information panels. From here, Winston Churchill, Bernard Montgomery and Dwight D Eisenhower watched rehearsals for the D-Day Landings in 1943-44. Keep following the path back to Middle Beach car park and turn left up Beach Road to return to the main Ferry Road.

End: Ferry Road, grid ref: SZ034825

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1 mile (2km)
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • OS Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck)
  • Terrain:

    A gentle walk along quiet roads, footpaths and a short section of beach. There are steps up from the beach, but this section can be avoided if necessary. Dogs are welcome under close control. Dogs must be on leads on South Beach from 1 May to 30 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

    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 the 'by foot' directions
    By car: Follow B3351 from Corfe Castle (9 miles) or from Poole via the chain ferry. Postcode is BH19 3AX

  • Facilities:

    • Parking and toilets at Middle Beach and South Beach

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