Extra Walk 73: South West Coast Path: Branksome to Swanage or Corfe Castle – A Lovely Long Coastal Journey
Length: 11.6 miles to Swanage; 14.5 to Corfe Castle
Difficulty: 3 out of 10 to Swanage; 5 out of 10 to Corfe Castle
Train: Take the 9:35 South West Weymouth train from London Waterloo to Branksome arriving at 11:29. Buy a special “summer promotion” day return ticket (£20) to Wareham for maximum flexibility on the return journey. According to the SW website, these can be purchased online, from ticket offices and from ticket machines.
In order to return from Swanage, you will need to take the number 40 bus from the Swanage bus station to Wareham (approximately 30 minutes) or a number 50 bus from various points along the sea front to Bournemouth (approximately 1 hour). From Corfe Castle, take the 40 bus. The 40 bus leaves Swanage at 18:05 and 19:05 (and Corfe at 18:23 and 19:23); the 50 bus leaves Swanage at 18:25; 19:25; 20:25. Return trains from Wareham are at 18:28; 18:53; 19:28; 19:53; 20:42 and 21:42 – the 40 bus coordinates well with the 53 trains. These trains stop in Bournemouth at 18:59; 19:22; 19:59; 20:22; 21:12 and 22:12 – the 50 bus does not link well, and, you will have a 30 minute or so wait to peruse the nearby ASDA. To maximize your time or take the 42 trains, you could also take a taxi from Swanage/Corfe to Wareham – Swanage Taxis 01929 421 122 or 01929 425 350. The quoted fare is £25 from Swanage and the trip takes about 20 minutes (or 10 minutes from Corfe). Please make sure to call ahead.
This is a long and enjoyable summer outing. The walk takes a hidden valley down to the sea and a long sandy beach. It largely follows the coastline with plenty of opportunities for swimming. At Sandbanks, you take a short ferry ride over to Purbeck and enjoy another long sandy stretch through Studland Bay with more swimming options. At the far end of Studland Bay, the walk climbs up to Old Harry’s Rocks and then either drops down into Swanage or carries along the ridge to Corfe Castle. More information and the walk instructions can be found here
There are a couple of lunch options on either side of the Sandbanks Ferry – the recommended one is the Shell Bay Cafe (01929 450 363) on the Purbeck side of the ferry. Large groups should call ahead. There are also plenty of places to enjoy a picnic.
Tea and other refreshments can be had at the National Trust kiosk in Studland Bay or at the Bankes Arms pub in Studland Bay. Both Swanage and Corfe Castle have a few options for post walk libations.
Enjoy the walk and fingers crossed for good weather!