Dorset is one of the counties in the UK that constantly surprises me with its beauty. Even after coming here for many years, I am still finding hidden gems or different panoramas. Today was certainly one of these, as my wife and I decided to venture a path a little less travelled.

When people think of Studland, in Dorset, they often think of the beach, or perhaps the walk to Old Harry Rocks and beyond, over the hills to Swanage. Both of these are fantastic things to do, but on a warm summer’s day they can get a little busy. Today, after parking our car in Studland we decided to walk in the opposite direction, over the road and then eventually breaking through onto the heath.

Agglestone Rock Peter
Standing in front of Agglestone Roack

Our destination was Agglestone Rock on the Black Heath. This large sandstone rock, sits completely out of place on a small hill about a mile and a half inland. In fact, I would more expect to see a rock like the Agglestone Rock in the United State’s Grand Canyon National Park.

There are multiple approaches to the rock, but to get the monumental view I recommend coming directly from the north east. To do this, we parked at the National Trust car park at Middle Beach. We then retraced our route about 50 metres towards Studland village and then turned right down an old bridleway. This cut-through was part of the original Ferry Road and uses a natural gully to take us to the main road. A 2-minute walk along the main road and it was time to cross over and head down another track. This track started off as chalk stone and intended for cars, but within 10 minutes became a path for horses and walkers only.

Left or Right
Should we go left or right?

The path entered a wooded area, and after a couple of gates we had a choice of going left or right. Although it looked like the smaller path, we chose to turn left. This was a good choice, and we were soon rewarded with amazing views.

Approaching Agglestone Rock
Approaching Agglestone Rock from the north east

On leaving the wood, we stepped out onto the heath. Still on a small path we were surprised to see that the National Trust had added wooden pathways and bridges to enable us to avoid any boggy parts. The route by this point was easy to follow and the Agglestone Rock started to loom large. Frustratingly, each time I tried to take a photo it appeared small and in the distance. Yet when seeing it through the naked eye, the rock looked large and impressive.

Agglestone Rock
The amazing beauty of Agglestone Rock

A small climb and we were there. This impressive sandstone rock was wondrous to see up close. After admiring both the beauty of the rock and the surrounding views, my wife and I decided to make our walk into a circular route. We continued on from the rock and then turned right at each main path, eventually taking us back to the earlier signpost where we had chosen to go left. A small warning, keep to the paths as there are poisonous Adder snakes in these heaths. They can also occasionally venture out on to the paths, so watch your step. This should not prevent you from doing the walk, just be a little careful.

I hope that you get an opportunity to explore the heaths around Studland. If you have any suggestions for other less known walks or activities in the Swanage area then please add a comment below to let me know. Thanks for reading.


  1. Funny how the rock looks way bigger in the photo that shows just part of it with the person looking tiny next to it than in the one that shows the entire rock with a person in front of it.

    1. Yes, it does look odd 🙂. Also I found that the photos I took from a distance hardly showed the rock. Whereas in “real life” the rock was looking quite large, even from a distance.

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