Thursday, 27 September 2012

Corfe Castle to Swanage

Looking back towards Corfe Castle

We can see Corfe Castle and the Purbeck ridge from our window in Poole and it has been a keen desire of mine to do this walk from Corfe along the ridge to Swanage - and come back on the steam train. The visit of our friends John and Anne provided an ideal opportunity.

We parked in the National Trust car park at Corfe and walked along the road towards the village, then took a left to pass under the railway line and walk along a lane until a path led ahead gradually ascending the side of Challow Hill. The views back towards Corfe were lovely.

Once we reached the ridge, it was straight ahead with views of Poole harbour to the left and looking back to the right you could see the continuation of the ridge through Knowle Hill. I think the hill on the extreme left may be Swyre Head, one of the highest points near the coast at 203m, which we have climbed several times.

As we walked along Allwood Down we began to catch glimpses of the sea in the distance on the right. I made various, not especially successful efforts to capture the view back along the valley between the Purbeck Ridge and the coastal ridge. This was the best of them.

At the end of Kingswood Down the path swings to the right to pass under Godlingstone Hill and Swanage comes more clearly into view. Anne developed a special interested in Ulwell, in the foreground.

The path descends to cross the Studland to Swanage road and we then took a steep path on the left to climb back up to the ridge and pass the Obelisk. I photographed it under better conditions when we first did the Studland to Old Harry walk in October 2010. This time I spotted a plaque that revealed it commemorated the arrival of fresh water to Swanage.

As we walked further along Ballard Down, the dark clouds which had been chasing us for a while finally caught up and it began to rain. Luckily for us, it was heading for Swanage and veered away to the south. We could still see the Isle of Wight ahead bright in the sunshine.

There were fine views over Poole Harbour, the wide sweep of Studland Bay being especially evident.

I had some thoughts of going all the way to Ballard Point, but it was clearly more sensible to head off to Swanage for lunch, so we turned right at the Stone Seat and walked down into Swanage to eat and catch the train back. The rain journey gave us an excellent sense of how far we had walked as the ridge was visible on the right for much of the way.

At Corfe, as we walked back from Norden station to the car park, I took yet another photo of the castle in the fading light.

Distance: 7 miles

Conditions: cloudy, threat of rain but only one shower

Map: Explorer OL15 Purbeck and South Dorset

Rating: four stars.  A really enjoyable walk, but it was interesting that that Ballard Down - with sea on all sides  - was still the best bit, and must be one of the finest paths in Dorset.

Flower of the day

John identified this pretty yellow flower as a type of Rock Rose.

Butterfly of the day

We saw lots of Red Admirals, many looking absolutely pristine, as if just emerged. This Comma just paused briefly for a photo

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