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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

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Saturday, 2 September 2017

Late Summer Swim?

SWC Walk 73:  South West Coast Path – Branksome to Swanage or Corfe Castle – Loads of Swimming Opportunities and the Stunning White Cliffs of Old Harry Rocks  T=SWC.73

Length: 11.6 Miles or 18.7 km for those more metrically minded (or 14.5 miles/23.3 km for the Corfe Castle ending)

Difficulty:  3 out of 10 (or 5 out of 10 for the Corfe Castle ending)

Train:  Take the 8:35AM South Western Weymouth Train from London Waterloo arriving at a Branksome at 10:29.   The return journey from Swanage or Corfe Castle requires taking a bus to Wareham (from Swanage you could also take a bus to Bournemouth) and picking up a train.  To return via Wareham, you will need to catch a number 40 bus from the Swanage bus/steam train station (about a 10-minute walk from the seaside) or in the center of Corfe Castle – these buses leave Swanage at 18:05 and Corfe at 18:23 (arriving at Wareham station at 18:36) and 19:05 and 19:23 (arriving at 19:36) and will connect with trains from Wareham at 18:53 or 19:53 (additional trains from Wareham are also at 19:28 and 20:42).  To return from Swanage via Bournemouth (which involves a longer bus journey), you will need to catch a number 50 bus from one of the stops along the sea front – these buses stop along the sea front around 18:27, 19:27 or 20:27 (depending on exactly what stop you use) and arrive in Bournemouth about an hour later.  Trains from Bournemouth are at 19:59, 20:22, 21:12 and 21:40.  For more flexibility on catching the trains at Wareham, you may want to group together and book a taxi from Swanage or Corfe Castle to Wareham Station – if you plan to do this, it is recommended to book one in advance at some point during the day – Swanage Taxis 01929 421 122/01929 425 350). Buy a day return to Wareham for the most flexibility.

This walk was famously rained and winded out last year when it was posted on a very turbulent Saturday. Although a little on the pricey side in terms of tickets, it is a marvelous summer walk along the seaside following for most of the route a section of the South West Coast Path AND the forecast is looking bright (fingers crossed).  It has great swimming opportunities all along the route (specifically in Studland Bay) as well as interesting and varied scenery for those not so fond of swimming.  Also, the Bournemouth Airshow will be on this weekend which may add some interesting features.  More information and the walk instructions can be found here.

Lunch can be eaten at a café before the Sandbanks Ferry.  Alternatively, the Shell Bay Café just after the ferry is highly recommended – but, do call ahead (01929 450 363). Tea can be had at the National Trust Café in Studland Bay or at the Bankes Arms in Studland Bay – a bit beyond the café.  There are also many places to eat and drink in Swanage or Corfe Castle.

Enjoy the walk!


John P said...

I am told that it is quite feasible to catch the 9.35 train if not planning on swimming.

Walker said...

N=16 on this walk, 13 on the specified train, three an hour later. The weather was w=sunny all day despite clouds building inland. A marked chill in the early morning and a slightly cool breeze in the afternoon signaled that autumn is on its way, however, and that expeditions like me this one will soon be a distant memory.

The gorgeous clear blue sea was also a tad colder than it really ought to be at this time of year - 17 degrees officially but on our first swim it felt more like 16. Despite this, nine of the group swam, most of them twice. Four who did not swim at all formed a separate party though we met them again on the train home.

After our first swim on Branksome beach we were treated to a display by the Red Arrows, part of the Bournemouth Air Show. We had a cafe lunch more notable for its fine seafront location than the quality of the food. Over in Studland Bay on the naturist beach we swam (in swimming costumes) surrounded by sundry naked middle-aged in statuesque poses - a bit like a living Antony Gormley installation.

After tea or worse in the National Trust cafe it was up onto Old Harry's Rocks where one of our party diced with death on a narrow rocky ridge while the rest of us tried not to look. In Swanage there was just time for a quick shop before the 19.05 bus. Then the long train ride back from Wareham to London, lubricated by wine and humus and falafels and stuff.