Highlight: Old Harry Rocks

Here, at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast, the white chalk of Handfast Point and Old Harry Rocks gleams brightly in the sun.
Old Harry Rocks & Handfast Point. Photo: Alan Holiday

Here, at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast, the white chalk of Handfast Point and Old Harry Rocks gleams brightly in the sun. Passing boats and walkers stop to soak up the view.

This tranquil stretch of English downland records, in its chalk bedrock, the closing chapters of the story of the Jurassic Coast.

 

How to Get There

Old Harry Rocks can be reached on foot from nearby Studland or Swanage. The nearest train station is Wareham. Check Traveline to plan your journey if taking public transport.

 

Where to Stay

We recommend staying at one of our nearby Business Partners – Durdle Door Holiday Park or Swanage Coastal Park. You can also hire a cottage in the area with Dorset Coastal Cottages or holidaycottages.co.uk.

 

old harry rocks from sea
Handfast peninsula, Old Harry and Ballard Down, Dorset, UK © jurassicphotographic.com

 

Old Harry Rocks in early morning sun, Handfast Peninsula, Dorset, UK.
© jurassicphotographic.com

 

old harry rocks
Old Harry Rocks in early morning sunshine, Handfast Peninsula, Purbeck, Dorset, UK © jurassicphotographic.com

 

Things to Do

Walking

Old Harry Rocks can be seen up close on foot by walking from either Studland or Swanage across Ballard Down, a gorgeous chalk grassland that offers spectacular views across the Jurassic Coast.

Further south from Old Harry Rocks along the South West Coast Path is the charming coastal town of Swanage, and beyond that Durlston Country Park and Dancing Ledge.

Boat Trips

To see Old Harry Rocks from the sea, as well as Swanage and other iconic Dorset landmarks, book a Jurassic Coast cruise with City Cruises Poole.

Food & Drink

The National Trust’s Knoll Beach Cafe at Studland Bay overlooks Old Harry Rocks and offers refreshment after a day’s walking.

Car Parking & Facilities

Parking is available at the National Trust’s Studland car park, or at one of the car parks in Swanage. Baby-changing facilities and push-chairs are available at nearby Knoll Beach.

 


How Was Old Harry Rocks Formed?

From around 100 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, countless skeletons of plankton began to drift to the bottom of a tropical sea here. Over the course of roughly 35 million years this process formed a thick blanket of white limestone known as chalk. At this time the ecosystems of the world were under pressure, and life was vulnerable, struggling with natural changes in global climate.

Disaster came 65 million years ago when an asteroid six miles across crashed into the Gulf of Mexico. In the cataclysm that followed around 75% of species were wiped out, including the dinosaurs. This event brought the Mesozoic Era to a close and made the world we recognise today a possibility. After the extinction event mammals, freed from the tyranny of the dinosaurs, rose to dominate the world. We are their descendants, possessed of the unique ability to transport ourselves back to those ancient days, with little more than a white cliff face and our imagination.

 

Other Highlights Nearby

Whilst taking in Old Harry Rocks, you can visit nearby Swanage and Durlston Country Park.