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S T U D L A N D   -   s e e   a l s o    Studland Map

  Studland is a tract of land described in the north as South Haven/Shell Bay and in the south as Ballard Down. It is effectively a continuation of Sandbanks further to the north and as it suggests, banks of sand or dunes, wind blown or tide transported from further round the coast. Surprisingly, sand can be removed from Sandbanks by the tide, be circulated outside Poole Harbour and deposited at Studland.

  Whimsical as it might sound, a grain of sand you stand on now at Studland, you could have stood on years ago at Bournemouth.

  Whilst Sandbanks and beyond may be have the sand slowly removed by nature, and replaced by man, the land above the beaches is protected by concrete. At Studland things are a lot more stable and almost self-sustaining, although there is a danger of slow erosion around and about Shell Bay.

  Sand that accumulated at Studland Bay did in fact, very simplistically, create a lagoon out of marshland in roughly the 17th-19th century and it is now known as Little Sea. This stretch of water may well have been connected to Poole Harbour and the sea in earlier centuries, perhaps during higher tides such that it did not become a channel like North/South Haven. It sadly goes un-noticed by most visitors because they either drive along Ferry Road or walk along Studland Bay without realising they have traversed around it. The small ingress of the human species does however help maintain it's status as a nature reserve. Surplus water which has filtered down from the land mainly drains away at Shell Bay.
Middle Beach
  We are told there is a legend about Little Sea which says Sir Bedivere cast King Arthur's Excalibur there, which given modern knowledge means he must have been a time traveller.

  As we work along the beach from the ferry in the north you start in Shell Bay which did act as a catchment for vast quantities of shells but more recent observations have found their numbers diminished. Poole Harbour was some centuries ago a hive of activity for harvesting various bi-valves and Shell Bay is literally round the corner.
  You walk along Shell Bay, round the point on to what is the main Studland beach supporting most of the visitors. This section also supports the Naturist Beach including the dunes behind. Moving south you are on to Knoll Beach where the National Trust have a tourist centre for refreshment and mementos of your visit, and then on to Middle Beach.
  Further south you reach the Redend Point promontory which acts, during high tides as a cut-off to the South Beach. That section then runs into the lee of Ballard Down.
Old Harry & Wife       Handfast Point                             Ballard Down
  From Ferry to Ballard is roughly 3 miles, South Beach, south of Redend Point is less popular because it gets cut off but is then still accessible from Studland village. It is not backed by dunes but by higher ground which is a mix of clays and sands and over the years gradually gets washed down to beach level. If you want a quieter time though, it is the place to be. There are a number of beach huts backing that section of beach.

  Having talked about all this sand, it must not be forgotten, for many people do, that whilst walking the sand you are traversing over an oil field up to nearly a mile below your feet which extends nearly to Bournemouth. This oil is extracted at the Wytch Farm site hidden away at the south of Poole Harbour. Contrary to popular belief it is not a dammed great underground 'lake' of oil, but held in the space between the grains of sand where oil extracted is replaced with water.

  In terms of traffic and parking, if you come from the ferry in the north you immediately have the Shell Bay car park at the side of the ferry toll booth. From there the road is virtually straight and level for almost a mile and reaches saturation in terms of parking at the side during the season. This is just a hard standing and since you could be stepping out of your vehicle straight on to the road it is potentially hazardous, especially from drivers, having been stuck at the toll booth waiting to pay are keen to make up time by amazing turns of speed for that section of road. As an aside, at speed the not so obvious undulations of the road can create permanent damage to exhaust systems, not by impact but by stress on mountings.
  Something that has been considered a problem by many, is the overnight parking of caravans on and around Ferry Road. The police and Purbeck District Council, working as part of the Studland Beach Users Action Group, recently (June 2005) prevented caravans parking overnight by issuing notices under Section 77 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994.
  A further mile takes you to the Knoll Beach car park, where during the season you are liable to hit a traffic jam courtesy of traffic entering the car park. This occurs during the morning, and the later afternoon of course finds everybody pouring out.
  As you move into Studland village you have both the Middle Beach and South Beach car parks. After that you are on to the Swanage Road with no further scope for parking.
  In an attempt to escape this parking bedlam many actually leave their vehicles at Sandbanks and cross to Shell Bay as foot passengers on the ferry.
  On summer high days and holidays Studland reputedly takes on some 3,000 vehicles/20,000 people, this is a phenomenal quantity given the space available and the convergence of the roads from Sandbanks/Poole, Corfe/Wareham and Swanage.
  Such has been the problem of traffic on occasions in past years that the police have shut the B3351 Studland Road connection at Corfe for those approaching from the Wareham direction.

  What has made Studland particularly successful has been the distinct lack of pebbles, and there is space for all to enjoy with long gentle slope to a soft sand bay. The lack of pebbles is because the bay is sheltered from southwesterly waves that one would expect to move the sand. You should err on the side of caution as you move out into the bay since there are still some strong currents courtesy of the narrow entrance to Poole Harbour. It is quite an education to spend some time actually at the entrance and observe how much and how fast the water comes and goes.

  Whilst on the subject of caution, it should be noted that land between Ferry Road and the beach comprises to a large degree of marshland together with Little Sea, East Lake and rivulets. If you are tempted to park on, and/or walk from Ferry Road by what appears the shortest cut, you may find yourself in the really soggy stuff and regret it. Moral - "treat with caution".

       Naturists !!
  Studland does have both popularity and notoriety as a Naturist resort. To that end an area has been designated, and marked with signs, where you may expect to see them, although they have no particular rights.
  Popularity with naturists is long standing, since possibly pre-1900. In the earlier days, a person, a couple, or a whole family would secret themselves in the dunes and often go un-noticed, not being a problem to anyone. Over the last several decades such folk have become more open and apparent, sometimes to the extent of them assuming it is their own private domain and that they are a law unto themselves. It is of course a beach in the ownership of the National Trust and open to the public.
  More recently Studland has become an attraction to naturists who want to go one step further than nude bathing which may be interpreted as offensive, indecent, intimidating or illegal. Unfortunately it is a minority ruining a delightful resort for the majority, some of that minority being homosexual and/or exhibitionist who are openly performing for all to see. Such behaviour can be extremely unpleasant for adults, but what impression does it give to children?
  If you are witness to such behaviour you should contact the police immediately so action can be taken. If it is deemed an emergency dial 999, but since it would be to report what might be deemed criminal or indecent activity, the local police number is 01202-222222.
  If you feel you wish to remain anonymous in reporting indecency you could call Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.
  Recently (June 2005), local police have undertaken an initiative by putting plain clothed (no pun intended, this is a very serious matter) officers in and around Studland beach to catch people in the act.

Countryside Office
BH19 3AX


01929 450259
01929 480609 (Learning)
01929 450500 (Shop)

Contact: studlandbeach@nationaltrust.org.uk

  Ballard Down to the south is a chalk down and was once joined to the Needles on the Isle of Wight. Much time and erosion has removed some 20 miles of chalk from west to east, and many streams and rivulets have joined force to generate a rather large puddle now called Poole Harbour which escapes to the sea at a weak point which became North/South Haven and 'connected' by the Sandbanks ferry.
The Bankes Arms in Studland village has it's own web site www.bankesarms.com which details it's history and what it has to offer to the visitor.

  We have described on the Sandbanks page how Poole and Swanage were relatively divorced from each other and how much time expired before a through route courtesy of the ferry evolved. There is tendency to assume that Studland is purely a tourist location where in fact it is also a commercial traffic route albeit small scale.
  From the ferry, south to Studland village, and surrounding the village is mostly open heath/country having suffered mainly from the ravages of climate rather than humanity.
  To the west Studland evolves to mainly heathland and into Rempstone, Godlingston and Corfe taking in delightful locations such as Arne, and being cut off by the River Frome and Wareham which of course is all about it being part of The Isle of Purbeck.

  There are quite a number of points along the south of Poole Harbour that were many landing/jumping off points for local commerce/industry back into Roman occupation and earlier, but we are again talking small-scale compared to modern-day industry, fortunately much is now left to nature and to a large degree preserved by the National Trust which owns most of Studland having been bequeathed it by the Bankes family in the person of Ralph Bankes on his death in 1981.

  We must be grateful that the property expansion that is Sandbank's 'fate' is not replicated on the Studland side of the channel, except in one place which is Glebelands near Studland village and mentioned later.
  World World II did effectively close Studland down, including the ferry, to the public since it was used both as a training and defensive area, the beach decorated with swathes of barbed wire and tank-traps.

St. Nicholas Church


  Although not the prettiest church in Purbeck this is a building that outwardly appears as a small chapel with two lumps added on. That aside it is very worthy a visit and has many interesting architectural and constructional features including two gargoyles seemingly having a sexual assignation.
  The build date is believed around 1050, just before the conquest. Part of the original church has been rebuilt, or built on, making a mix of Norman and Saxon build which makes it very unusual in England let alone Purbeck.
  The church courtesy of poor foundations, which may have been of an earlier building, or overenthusiastic change has suffered structurally over the centuries. It has been suggested that attempts to keep it functional were because it was of greater importance than just a village church and administered a larger area than Studland village.



< Studland                                         Glebelands                                         Ballard Down  >

  Glebelands has a strange attaching story in that it was church property that was put up for sale and the Bankes family agent who was instructed to go to London to purchase it missed his train and it was thus sold to developers. The early buildings of the 1930s were modest but time has seen them replaced with some 35 moderate to luxury properties commanding some very high prices courtesy of the location.
  Some owners do open their gardens to the public at various times in the year in an endeavour to collect for charitable purpose.



Agglestone - 400 tons of pre-history
  If you venture west from the village you are moving on to what is Studland Heath where you find standing alone, The Agglestone, a 400 ton lump of sandstone that has been left after all around it had been weathered away. Size wise it is some 16 feet high and 30 feet across. It had retained an upright mushroom type stance until September 1970 when it tumbled on to it's 'side', as you now find it.
  Myth, legend and folklore surround it, the favourite stories being based on the Devil on the Isle of Wight seeing Studland church being built and throwing a boulder, or rather his nightcap, to try and demolish it. This gave The Agglestone it's other name which is the Devil's Nightcap. Similar versions being that the target was either Corfe Castle or Old Harry (which some consider a reference to the Devil thus unlikely), whichever, he missed !
  Theories as to it's presence have included movement by glacier, and placement by Bronze-Age man either as the marker for a barrow or as sacrificial site on the strength of it being visible from a great distance, well, a few miles perhaps.

  Just to the northwest of the Agglestone is another smaller stone known as the Puckstone, and to the southwest the Isle of Purbeck Golf Course skirted by the B3351 to Corfe.





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