Dorset's Old Harry Rocks: A Guide to the Natural Wonder

dorset jurassic coast landscape old harry sea

One of the most well-known sights on the South Coast, Old Harry, stands tall on Handfast Point at the southern end of Studland Bay.
Old Harry Rocks are the common name for the chalk formations, but Old Harry actually refers to the single stack of chalk that is the furthest out at sea. Another stack known as Old Harry's Wife existed until 1896, but erosion caused her to fall into the water, leaving only a mound.

The Old Harry rocks are just one of the many stunning natural features that line Dorset's coastline. These mysterious rocks tucked away on the coast, have their own fairytale past and a variety of origin theories. The Old Harry Rocks in Dorset are discussed in detail in this blog post, including their characteristics, the origin of their name, directions for visiting them, and more.

The Dorset’s Old Harry Rocks are a small set of rocky islets, which are located about a mile-and-a-half off the coast of Dorset, on the northernmost tip of the Jurassic Coastline. They have a long and rich history, which goes back several thousands of years. The rocks were formed due to a build-up of limestone, which over time turned into solid rock. The Old Harry Rocks are connected to the mainland through a shingle bank. The cliffs around the rocks are very unstable, which means that they can be dangerous to explore. The rocks are home to several species of seabird, such as cormorants, shags and gulls, as well as a few small mammals.

The name of these rocks has been debated for many years. One of the most common explanations for the name “Old Harry” is that it comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “hearg”, which means “temple”. This, in turn, was derived from the Latin word “templum”, so the “temple” in Old Harry could have been a Roman temple. This is supported by the fact that the rocks were once used as an ancient place of worship. Another theory about the origin of the name is that it can be traced back to the French word “hommes”, meaning “men”. The rocks were likely named after the “Old Harry’s men”, referring to the French and Dutch pirates who were known to frequent this area. Old Harry was the name of a famous Poole pirate!

The South West Coast Path includes the route that leads to Old Harry, which is well-travelled by both cyclists and walkers. When visiting Old Harry, dogs are welcome, but they must be kept on a leash due to the cliffs' height. Old Nick's Ground, another name for the devil, is the name of the summit of a nearby cliff.

To get a closer look, you can rent a kayak or sign up for a kayak tour. Between Poole Quay and Swanage Pier, City Cruises Poole offers boat tours that pass by the rocky outcroppings and along the Jurassic Coast.

Near Old Harry, there are open grassy areas where you can have a picnic. In Studland village, there are many options for lunch, dinner, or just a drink. Some people have a place outside where they can take in the summertime sun and coastal vistas. The local pub does a lovely ploughman's lunch!

The Old Harry Rocks exploration is quite the adventure! The rocks are situated in a stunning natural setting, so take your time to take in the views and snap lots of pictures. There are a few things to see and do once you arrive there: - Hiking - Because the rocks are not very large, you will need to walk a short distance if you want to fully explore the area. - Photography - The Old Harry Rocks offer a variety of locations for stunning photographs. When the rocks are surrounded by shadows at sunrise and sunset, they look especially beautiful. - Wildlife spotting - You might be fortunate enough to see some of the small mammals and various seabird species that call the rocks home.

The Durdle Door, another must-see location along the Jurassic Coast of Dorset, is not far from the Old Harry Rocks. Natural archway called Durdle Door, which the sea has sculpted out, like a massive entrance to the Jurassic Coast. Visit Old Harry Rocks and Durdle Door while you are in the region since they are both excellent locations for photography.

The Dorset’s Old Harry Rocks are a beautiful natural landmark and the perfect place to go if you want to get away from it all. During the summer, Old Harry Rocks and the surrounding Studland beaches are quite popular and may be very crowded. Buses stop at Studland village, which is around 1.5 miles from Old Harry, on their year-round routes between Bournemouth, Sandbanks, and Swanage. The National Trust operates the closest parking lot, which is located in South Beach. Members of the National Trust are entitled to free parking in the pay-and-display lot.

You can purchase a limited edition print of Old Harry here.

This artwork of the iconic Dorset attraction of Old Harry was created first as a sketch, then later using watercolour was painted. It was then digitally transferred and then printed via Giclee.  

Available in new 8", 12” or 20” Giclee prints on 310gsm Hahnemühle German Etching (traditional mould-made copperplate printing paper).



Kirk Evans

'Old Harry' was created on October 12th 2022

- Limited to 50 copies

- Printed using Giclee and Hahnemühle German Etching 310 (gsm) paper for a superior handmade feel.

-Includes 1" border for mounting.

Older Post Newer Post

Leave a comment