Beach, dunes and harbour views at Studland, Dorset
Studland, near Swanage, DorsetRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
A short circular walk on level ground from Shell Bay car park near Studland, Dorset offering views from both sides of the Studland Peninsula.
- Bus stop
Start: Shell Bay Car Park, Dorset (grid ref: SZ035863)
From the car park walk across the boardwalk towards the beach. Listen carefully as you cross the boardwalk and see if you can hear the distinctive calls of moorhens, coots and the elusive willow warblers that are found in the reed bed.
Walk over the dunes and take in the fantastic views across the bay. Follow the edge of the dunes towards the point and approximately two thirds of the way along the beach follow the signs for Heather Walk.
Shell Bay has commanding views over the entrance to Poole Harbour with its chain ferry shuttling back and forth. The deep water channel passes close by and is often busy with craft ranging from yachts to cross-Channel ferries. The view stretches around to take in Poole Bay and the Isle of Wight.
Before the second sign follow the track that heads inland through the dunes.
Follow the track. On your left will be the wet mire with its distinctive bog myrtle and on the right will be the heather of the dunes. After approximately 100 yards, on the right there is the remains of a ‘blow-out’ caused by wartime shelling of the area. This area has now become a thriving habitat for reptiles, dragonflies and birds.
Studland is an important habitat for dragonflies and damselflies, which can often be seen flitting about in the summer months. One of the most impressive is the emperor dragonfly, Britain's biggest, which grows to nearly 80cm in length.
Carry on the track, keeping the trees on your left with the ridge of dune heath on your right. Watch out for the deep water areas near the trees which are havens for the dragonflies that populate the area. On the ridge to the right can be seen the remains of World War Two bunkers. At the end of the track turn right.
Follow the route through wooded areas and open mire and heath. When you arrive at the road, cross over and access the heath on the opposite side (take care here as the road may be busy).
Follow the track to Jerry’s Point, passing the relatively new lagoon on the right. As you walk, look on the ground and see if you can see any broken clam shells dropped by the birds to break open so they can get at the food inside. At Jerry’s Point, take in the views of Brands Bay and Brownsea Island opposite. Turn right and head back down the beach taking care to keep an eye out for oyster catchers, egrets and Brent geese which frequent this area.
Brownsea Island, directly north from Jerry's Point, is the largest of Poole Harbour's islands. As it is owned by the National Trust, the public can visit it (the only one that they can visit). Brownsea Castle began life as one of Henry VIII's chain of coastal defences and much of the island is a nature reserve. Brownsea is famous as the location for Baden-Powell's first scout camp in 1907.
Follow the beach, passing the abandoned jetty and head towards the house boats. Walk along the beach and at the last house boat head back inland along the track which will bring you back to Ferry Road opposite Shell bay car park.
End: Shell Bay Car Park, Dorset (grid ref: SZ035863)
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Easy
- Distance: 2.25 miles (3.6km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer OL 15 (Purbeck)
Beach and level, sandy trails through dunes and heathland. Some areas may be boggy after rain.
- How to get here:
By foot: From Sandbanks, follow Banks Road (B3369) round to Ferry Way and walk on to the chain ferry (£1 fee for pedestrians). From Studland follow Ferry Road to the road end
By bike: Cross over the chain ferry from Bournemouth/Poole or head north along the Ferry Road from Corfe Castle or Swanage
By bus: Wilts and Dorset number 50 from Bournemouth or Swanage, or from Poole, number 52 to Sandbanks. Then follow foot directions
By car: Follow B3351 from Corfe Castle (11 miles) to Shell Bay or from Bournemouth/Poole via the chain ferry
Toilets and restaurant/bar at Shell Bay. National Trust cafe and shop at Knoll Beach (2 miles).
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