We have lived just under 2 hours away from Old Harry Rocks for the past 8 years, and have only just visited it this year for the first time. Boy, have we been missing out!
These famous rocks lie just off the coast of Dorset, on a thin spit of land near Studland. They were formed over thousands of years of erosion from a spit of land that once joined Purbeck to the Isle of Wight. The Needles on the West coast of the Isle of Wight are part of the same chalk rocks that once spanned the English Channel.
Our first glimpse of Old Harry Rocks was from Durlston, where we parked up and went for a short walk along the coast in search of the Durlston Globe.
The rain and sea mist that we encountered was pretty disheartening at the time, and left us soggy and disillusioned. However, now that I look back on the images, I’m actually quite glad that the weather was like that as it added a real sense of atmosphere.
Check out this beautiful globe sculpture! Nature has begun to darken and erode it, leaving a dark stain across the Northern hemisphere like some eerie foreshadowing.
After all that doom and gloom, let’s go back to those bright white chalk rocks shall we?
I hadn’t really prepared myself for just how beautiful this area would be, and after a fairly long trek from the car park (which is owned by National Trust, so we managed to park for free!), we were absolutely blown away by the beauty of the chalk stacks.
There are many local legends that have sought to tell the story of Old Harry and how he formed his place in this part of the water. One legend says that the Devil (who is alternatively known as ‘Old Harry’), once took a nap on the rocks here and therefore gave them the title.
Another legend tells that the rocks are named after the famous Poole pirate Harry Paye, who used to hide his ship between these towering rocks.
I quite like the legend that claims that a 9th century Viking raid was caught in a terrible storm, and one of the drowned seamen, Earl Harold, was magically turned into a pillar of chalk and destined to remain there forever.
Old Harry has suffered loss in his time. His original wife fell in 1509 to erosion, and this will be a continued theme for these soft rocks. The natural process that forms these stacks occurs when the softer rock is eroded away near the bedrock, eventually forming caves, that eventually become arches, before the thin top of the arch collapses and two pillars are left.
You can see archways forming now in the rocks, which will eventually erode and become more pals for Old Harry.
The walkway from the car park to Old Harry Rocks is a peaceful, quiet natural path, lined by bushes and trees, and dotted with wild bunnies. There is a small boat-mooring area out to sea with several boats lined up, solemnly awaiting clearer conditions for their next journey.
Park up in the car park at Studland, and keep an eye out for Bankes Arms pub – you’ll probably want to stop there for refuelling on your way back!
It’s hard to capture the true beauty of Old Harry Rocks in still images, they are just so majestic. They absolutely deserve a visit to see them at their finest.
We’ve put together some video of our time at this beautiful location. Feel free to take a look!
Pin for Later: