Saturday, 16 January 2016

Shell Bay and Studland Bay

Mouth of Poole Harbour

We did this walk on New Year's Day in the howling wind and rain. It was bracing and satisfying, but not much fun. Today offers a much nicer prospect to do it again. It is also the first stage of the South West Coast Path which we did on 25 January 2011. The really striking thing is how few other people were on the beach that day.

We took the Chain Ferry across the mouth of Poole Harbour, marked in the National Trust car park and headed past the wooden and blue metal signs marking the start of the wonderful Coast Path. Five years on, we have walked 500 miles along the coast path and have reached Bude. It is still hard to believe.

There is a sort of lagoon at the back of the beach and the sand patterns in the shallow water looked a bit like the pictures you sometimes see of the human brain.

Further along, there was a lovely view from the dunes across to the other side of the harbour mouth.

Soon we saw the first of the Sanderlings that we first noticed on New Year's Day. These hyperactive little waders have a wonderful way of running sideways in the sand at the edge of the water.

After we turned the corner into Studland Bay there was a steady stream of people waking along the beach, very many of them accompanied by their dogs.

The sun was in the wrong place for this picture towards Old Harry Rocks - more or less straight ahead - but it was still a nice view with the waves rolling in.

The view looking back was brighter, with the sun behind us, but there was still a steady stream of people walking on both directions. This picture came closer than the previous one to the style of Boudin, who painted so many views of people on the beaches of Normandy. They were much more formally dressed of course with their top hats, parasols and crinolines.

Eventually we reached the welcoming National Trust cafe at Knoll Beach and had a refreshing drink before heading back. I couldn't resist another view of Old Harry Rocks across the very calm sea.

In the latter part of the walk back we followed a path along the top of the dunes instead of walking along the shoreline. A steady two-way flow continued however.

Conditions: bright at first, becoming cloudier. Cool.

Map: Explorer OL15 (Purbeck and South Dorset).

Distance: about 5 miles.

Rating: four stars. A delightful walk.

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