The Purbeck Hills: Studland - Corfe Castle Circuit via Old Harry Rocks Walking

Whilst the Needles on the Isle of White are world famous, Old Harry Rocks and its neighbouring Pinnacles are somewhat lesser known, but no less stunning. They form the starter for this walk, with breathtaking views across Studland, Poole and Swanage Bays. The continuation along Ballard and Nine Barrow Downs leads to the iconic ruins of Corfe Castle, a royalist stronghold during the English Civil War. We then cut back over the Downs and onto Godlingston Heath, taking in the lonely sandstone monolith of the Agglestone. This long but easy walk takes in some impressive views without too much ascent and descent, whilst looking out across the incredible Purbeck Hills of southern Dorset, which are often basking in sunshine.

A Walker looks out at Old Harry's Rocks, The Purbecks  © Mark Reeves
A Walker looks out at Old Harry's Rocks, The Purbecks
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Detailed description

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SZ0377582515 From the car park in Studland walk down the hill towards the public toilets, where a sign points up a track to Old Harry Rocks. Follow this path up until it levels off, where a small path leads through to a long open field. A track up the right side leads nearly all the way to the headland where you get views of the impressive chalk sea stacks of Old Harry and His Wife. Look towards Swanage, and you'll see The Pinnacles with the very distinctive Tusk.
The Spectacular Old Harry Rocks at Handfast Point, Purbeck Hills  © Mark Reeves
The Spectacular Old Harry Rocks at Handfast Point, Purbeck Hills
© Mark Reeves, Oct 2018

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SZ0541582463 When you have taken in the spectacular nature of the place, continue along the well travelled path that follows along the cliff edge to just before Ballard Point, and take the right fork up to a 117m spot height and trig point. Now follow the crest of Ballard Down. Either descend the gradual path down to the gap between Ballard and Nine Barrow Downs, or continue to the end of Ballard Down and make a steep descent down to the road.
Look across at the Pinnacles from Old Harry Rocks, both of these stacks have been climbed!  © Mark Reeves
Look across at the Pinnacles from Old Harry Rocks, both of these stacks have been climbed!
© Mark Reeves, Oct 2018

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SZ0180981228 Cross the road and start following the public footpath that leads up to the top of Nine Barrow Down, which like the previous down is like walking along the back of a giant whale. The path reaches the crest of the ridge just past some antennae. After 3km on the ridge the path starts to descend on the left side of the ridge down towards Corfe Castle. You can if you wish carry on along the ridge to the hill that overlooks the castle before backtracking and descending as described. When the track hits the tarmac road carry along west and over the heritage railway line and into the bottom of the village.
Looking down at Corfe Castle from Kingston, with the Nine Barrow Down leading along to it.  © Mark Reeves
Looking down at Corfe Castle from Kingston, with the Nine Barrow Down leading along to it.
© Mark Reeves, Oct 2018

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SY9610582189 From here you can wander into the village for a cup of tea and cake or make a circular walk round the castle (anti-clockwise is the easiest to follow, staying low until on the far side of the castle. You can then retrace your steps back up to the chalk ridge to an antenna, where the path reaches the top of the ridge.

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SY9726882153 From the antenna ascend a faint path northeast over the rounded ridge and descend to meet a tree line on the far side. Follow the right of way through this and round the back of Brenscombe Down Outdoor Centre via the public right of way to reach the B3351. Turn right onto this and follow it carefully for 150m before turning left towards Rempstone Farm. Walk down this road for 500m to a complex junction where the road curves left.

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SY9891582872 From the junction take the right, down Breaches Lane, which is signposted a dead end. After 100m you pass an old wooden building on the left. After another 300m there is a farmyard and barn on the right. Carry on along the lane until the lane turns left, and just after this you come out of the woods. Follow the road that is now not much more than a track to where it veers right towards Kingswood Heath and follow the track east through here to arrive at Godlingston Heath, which is open access land.

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SZ0044682841 Carry on along the path past a putting green and turn right down the side of a fairway. The main path now runs through the course and swings leftwards to eventually reach the Anglestone, a small but prominent sandstone boulder. The intrepid can scale this rock.

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SZ0234482834 Carry on along the path and at the T-Junction turn right and head back into a small woodland and re-appear on Wadmore Lane which brings you out on the B3351. Turn right and follow the road for 150m to a left turn into Studland by a triangular junction. After 20m turn right onto rectory lane and after another 150m turn right onto Manor Lane and walk back to the car park by the Bank's Arms Inn

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