Studland Beach Second World War walk

Middle Beach car park, Studland, Dorset BH19 3AX

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
World War Two defences overlooking the beach at Studland, Dorset © National Trust/Jon Bish

World War Two defences overlooking the beach at Studland, Dorset

World War Two observation post Fort Henry at Studland, Dorset © National Trust

World War Two observation post Fort Henry at Studland, Dorset

Second World War pill box at South Beach, Studland, Dorset © National Trust/Jon Bish

Second World War pill box at South Beach, Studland, Dorset

Route overview

Explore the hidden features of Studland’s Second World War past that remind us of the importance of Studland as a training ground for troops in the months leading up to D-Day.

Route details

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

Studland Beach Second World War walk map
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Middle Beach car park, Studland, grid ref: SZ036829

  1. From Middle Beach car park, descend the path by the lookout hut and go left to a bridge over a small stream. Here you can view a line of Dragon's Teeth (SZ036830).

    Show/HideDragon's Teeth

    These large concrete blocks, together with mines and ditches, were designed to prevent enemy tanks advancing inland in an invasion.

    World War Two defences overlooking the beach at Studland, Dorset © National Trust/Jon Bish
  2. Go between the beach huts onto the beach, turn right and head south along the seashore.

  3. Go past the beach café and turn right up the main track before turning left onto the waymarked coast path. Just a few hundred metres along this route is Fort Henry (SZ037828).

    Show/HideFort Henry

    Constructed in 1943 by Canadian engineers and named after their home base in Ontario, Fort Henry is a concrete observation bunker with walls a metre thick. In 1944 it was used by Churchill, Eisenhower and King George VI to watch rehearsals for D Day.

    World War Two observation post Fort Henry at Studland, Dorset © National Trust
  4. Continue along the coast path then head inland on a signposted route to the Bankes Arms. Please note there is currently no access to South Beach at this point due to a landslip. During the Second World War, the Bankes Arms was the control base for a major experiment to test the effectiveness of burning oil as a defence against a German seaborne invasion. This was known as Project Fougasse and involved piping oil to the sea and firing it by explosive charges.

  5. Pass the Bankes Arms on the right and continue down the hill. Turn left onto a footpath signposted to South Beach. On reaching the beach turn left and look for a pill box at the north end of the beach (SZ038828).

    Show/HidePill box

    In the early days of the Second World War, when a German invasion seemed inevitable, pill boxes formed a line of defence along coastlines vulnerable to attack. At Studland, each was manned by one soldier with a Lewis machine gun.

    Second World War pill box at South Beach, Studland, Dorset © National Trust/Jon Bish
  6. Retrace your steps to the Bankes Arms. Follow the road to the right, passing the Manor House Hotel, and return to the start point.

End: Middle Beach car park, Studland, grid ref: SZ036829

  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Easy
  • Distance: 1.25 miles (2km)
  • Time: 1 hour
  • OS Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck)
  • Terrain:

    Gradients are fairly gentle with good walking conditions underfoot, except after heavy rain. Dogs aren't allowed on the beach from 1 July to 7 September. During the rest of the year please keep them under strict control to avoid disturbance to people and wildlife.

  • How to get here:

    By foot: From the crossroads in Studland village, follow the signs for Middle Beach

    By bike: Approach Studland via the Sandbanks chain ferry or National Cycle Network Route 2 and follow foot directions

    By bus: Wilts and Dorset 50, Bournemouth or Swanage to Studland, then follow foot directions

    By car: Follow B3351 from Corfe Castle (5 miles/8km) or from Bournemouth/Poole via chain ferry. Postcode of start point is BH19 3AX

  • Facilities:

    Parking, toilets and cafe at Middle Beach. Food, drink and accommodation at the Bankes Arms (South Beach). Cafe at South Beach.

  • Contact us