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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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Sunday, 9 September 2018

Swan Song to Summer Swimming en route to Swanage (from Branksome)

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 (Clapham Junction 8:45) arriving at a Branksome at 10:45.   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 18:25 and Corfe at 18:43 (arriving at Wareham station at 18:56) and 19:25 and 19:43 (arriving at 19:56) and will connect with trains from Wareham at 19:20 or 20:20.  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 18:30 and 19:30, depending on what stop you use and arrive in Bournemouth about an hour later.  Trains from Bournemouth are at 19:50; 19:59 and 20:56. 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.

Unfortunately, the incessant threats of industrial action by SWT this summer prevented posting this coastal charm earlier in the summer -- but, on the positive, it makes a great swan song for summer swimming…chalk full of opportunities….  It also features interesting and varied scenery for those not so fond of swimming. 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 (and swims)!


Anonymous said...

Lovely walk. Intend going. Happy to share taxi from Swanage or Corfe Castle.

Stargazer said...

I was recently reminded that non-swimmers could take a train an hour later and have a good chance of catching up with earlier swimmers along the beach front at some point before the ferry.....

Anonymous said...

Seems that trains from Wareham are only at 18.20 and 21.30 this Sunday. Bournemouth has trains at 19.40 and 19.59 then last train at 22.06.

Walker said...

That is not what the National Rail Planner app is showing me: trains at 18.20, 19.20, 20.30 and 21.30.

Walker said...

N=8 (?) on this walk, including one later starter (me) who met the others at lunch. After early cloud a w=lovely-sunny-day, albeit a bit breezy. The trains, so crowded earlier in the summer, were delightfully empty. Autumn has its advantages....

I wasn’t there, but I think all but one swam at Branksome. The sea is cooling a bit now - official temperature 17 degrees, “apparent temperature” 16 degrees, but is still the right side of bearable. One gets dressed quickly, though. Lunch was at our “usual” cafe on Sandbanks, which was run on biblical principles (she who orders last shall get her food first) and got in a bit of a pother over some orders, but basically served us quickly enough.

On to the chainlink ferry and Studland Bay. Unusual to see this at low tide. A further swim here amidst the parading naturist men, then on along the beach to the National Trust cafe, where your intrepid reporter was allowed to get within sniffing distance of the tea and cakes before being told we were going to the Studland pub instead (luckily I had my reusable US trucker’s mug with me and could get a takeaway).

Said pub was nice - a lovely garden. We then managed to pass Old Harry’s Rocks without anyone (he knows who he is) dicing with death on narrow bits of cliff. Walking over Ballard Down one felt, as always, that it was a pity to have to rush this to get bus and train home. Then I remembered that I didn’t as I was staying the night. So was another of the group and we had a nice Italian meal. Walking back along the dark beach later the stars were lovely. The London-bound crowd missed all this and had to console themselves with ample “provisions” on the train journey home.

Stargazer said...

Just to expand, there were actually n=10 on the walk -- 9 off the specified train and 1 from the later train. Six of the first 9 swam at Branksome, 1 had a snack and 2 continued with the walk (later catching the 18:20 train). I think most agreed that disregarding SWC tradition by skipping the NT café in Studland Bay for the Bankes Arms about 20 minutes further along was a successful experiment....nice selection of ales, fresh ciders, gins, tea and puddings.....all with a gorgeous view across the bay....definitely a keeper....Those of us returning to London just managed to catch the 18:25 bus armed with provisions to connect with the 19:20 train for a very convivial journey back to London.....I was not sure how this walk would work on a Sunday...but, with an early start, does just fine...plenty of time for swims, lunch, afternoon drinks....with a reasonable return time....