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Swanage to Sandbanks

A misty autumnal day in September, typical for this time of year, the mist clearing only slowly as the day progresses. Perfect conditions for a popular walk that follows the coastal path northwards from Swanage (SZ 030 790) to the chain ferry at Sandbanks (SZ 037 867). The walk typically takes 3–4 hours, depending on the number of photography stops!

016-01 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-02 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-03 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-04 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-05 Swanage to Sandbanks
016-06 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-07 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-08 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-09 Swanage to Sandbanks 016-10 Swanage to Sandbanks
To view any image full size - simply click on the thumbnail

Leaving Swanage Bay one follows the well trodden path that climbs 120m onto Ballard Down, from where there are splendid views northwards over Poole harbour. The path then turns eastwards along the cliff edge past the Pinnacles (a series of chalk sea-stacks) before dropping into Studland Bay – a long sandy bay – leading to the ferry at Sandbanks. Sunset in mid-September is at about 19:15hrs.


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In the top row of pictures:

  • The lingering mist restricts the visibility, Old Harry and Pinnacles in the distance, and the Victorian Pier at Swanage (picture)
  • Until the mist is burnt off by the sun later in the day the beach remains relatively deserted (picture)
  • An on-shore breeze whips up the waves, a hint of the winter storms to come, wooden groynes provide some protection to the beach (picture)
  • Further north along Swanage Bay the waves at high-tide continue their erosion of the soft clays and sands of the Wealden strata, the recent landslip of the chalk cliffs beyond is also readily visible (picture)
  • The lingering mist makes for poor visibility on the ascent up onto Ballard Down (picture)

In the bottom row of pictures:

  • By mid-afternoon the sun has burnt off almost all of the mist, Ballard Down and the Pinnacles (picture)
  • The Pinnacles, chalk sea-stacks (picture)
  • Whilst the air temperature may only climb to around 20°C (due to the morning's mist) the sea temperature is pleasant at 17–18°C (picture)
  • Near journey's end, the telephone kiosk at South Haven Point near the Sandbanks Ferry (picture)
  • Sunset, seen through the recently erected (2002) sculpture marking the start-point (or end-point, depending on your itinerary!) of the 1014km long South West Coast Path (picture)

See also: Ballard Down

Nearby locations that also feature in galleries on this site:

direction Studland Bay


directionCorfe Castle

Other sites on the web

The South West Coast Path Association:   Information and further pictures relating to this long-distance footpath

West's Geology Field Guides:   the Studland Peninsula and Ballard Down area and Swanage Bay

The Dorset Page:   Swanage, Studland, Sandbanks – local information and links to further resources on the web

Maps of the area on streetmap.co.uk:   1:50,000 – detail, 1:250,000 – locality and route to get there

picture resolution
The pictures of Swanage to Sandbanks in this gallery were captured at high resolution.
This is images of dorset stock photography gallery 016
All photographs copyright © 1998–2003 John Allen

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