It is some months since Helen and I have taken the walk to Studland. This we generally do by walking the coastal path out, and then over the top of Ballard Down on the way back. Four miles one way and three the other. With such a fine morning yesterday, we took the time to join many others with the same idea - though we had a slight variation to the route that few if any were taking, namely to walk the length of the beach nearly to the white cairn and then the rope path up to the cliff top above.
As we walked out we were conscious that those walking the other way had the sun in their eyes and were often right up to us before seeing us clearly. Looking back to Swanage, from our point of view was dominated by the sun on the sea, sparkling its light across the bay. The shift in sand, stones and cliff face has been considerable since we were last along here, and even finding the bottom of the rope path was a struggle. It is certainly still passable with care, but not what it was, and surely in danger of disappearing altogether, cutting off the route from the end of the beach to the higher path back.
The direction of the wind made a significant difference to the comfort of the walk, as we had scarves and gloves off and coats open by the time we reached the highest point of the walk, where the wind hit us, and was in our faces all the way down to the Old Harry Rocks. Coats were done up, scarves back in place and we cooled off from having got so hot walking up to the point at which views ceased to be back over Swanage Bay and became forward to the Pinnacles, the Isle of Wight and right round to Poole Harbour.
An exercise group were doing some impressive up-hill runs against the clock, or so it seemed, and walkers intent on reaching the top of Ballard Down or across to Swanage were scattered across the open grassland, whilst the track back to Studland itself was busy with dogs and humans enjoying the more sheltered, sunny, gentle descent to the village.
Lunch at the Bankes Arms, which was busy enough, set us on our way up through the Glebe to the path up and over to Whitecliff Farm and onwards past All Saints’ to the seafront and home. As so often on a walk like this, we say, “We must do it again soon”, but probably won’t this side of Christmas. Still, we have the memory of it: wet seaweeds glistening on the groynes above the shining pebbles, pulling ourselves up the rope path, meeting others and exchanging greetings, the sight of a kestrel hovering still in the wind, the fire in the hearth of the pub and the friendly welcome of the barman. What a lot to pack into about four hours!