SUP Studland to Old Harry Rocks

SUP Studland beach to the huge Purbeck cliffs and ‘Old Harry’ rocks. The only stretch in the Poole area that provides sheltered supping from the SW winds.

Old Harry SUP b

≈ Quick Facts:

  • Beach Name: Studland Beach (Knoll Beach car park) 
  • What is the distance: 1.75 miles each way
  • How long does it take: Half an hour each way
  • Shelter from wind: SW – W
  • Waves: No
  • Best tide: Mid high or mid low
  • Pay to park: Yes. Free after 6pm. Free all day for Nat. Trust members
  • Parking Distance: 10 seconds walk
  • Do you pay to launch: No
  • SUP Rental: Yes (Knowle Beach) £16 ph
  • Wildlife: Seahorses (very rare), Dolphins (rare)
  • Eat & Drink: Large beach cafe
  • Toilets: Yes
  • Hazards: Outgoing tide, car park locked at 8pm

Copyright of supexplorer 

≈ Location Guide: 

Where to park & launch a SUP for Old Harry Rocks?



By far the best place to park on Studland Beach is the Knoll Beach car park. Access to the beach is very easy from here plus there is a decent café and toilet block. There are two other car parks to try if this one is full, South beach and Middle beach car parks. The problem with these two is that it is a pain to get down to the water, it involves a bit of a hike. The car parks are all free after 6pm but they lock the gates at 8pm in the summer or at sunset depending on which comes first. Car park charges apply during the day.

Best wind and tide direction to SUP Studland Beach?
In Southerly, South Westerly and Westerlies winds you will be nicely sheltered by the high cliffs. I usually tuck myself right under, the water is like a mill pond there, but if you paddle only 500m away from the cliffs it can be really choppy and windy.

Distant View of Old HarryView from Middle Beach car park

You’ll know if it is going to be paddleboardable by just standing on Studland beach and having a quick look, if it looks glassy close to shore then you’re on. Check the tide to make sure that the tide is either incoming or between highs, the out -going tide can be very strong around Old Harry and is almost impossible to paddle against when in full flow, next stop France!

6446688bSheltered waters in a SW

There is a SUP rental business located right on Knowle beach, they seem very approachable and have no issue with renting  paddleboards without a prior booking. In 2017 hire is £16 per hour.


What is there to see?
Launching is a case of carrying your board between the beach huts and straight off the front at Knoll beach. This is actually the southern end of Studland beach but under another name. You paddle off to the right, hugging the coast, where you will pass Middle beach and South beach. All along this stretch is very lush green with people dotted about on the beach. You then turn the corner where the high cliffs begin and the greenery gets less. Eventually all you have is towering white cliffs until you to arrive at the Old Harry Rocks perched at the end.

The start of the white cliff section

There are a few little patches of stony beach on route, which are handy if you want to land you SUP for a breather. Great vantage point to sit and enjoy the views across to Isle of Wight and Bournemouth. Be warned though I stupidly decided to sit on my board and a sharp stone punched straight through the bottom, not a good idea!

P1140097Mike the author

There’s tons of seaweed that you will need to dodge quite close to the shore line. The brilliant white cliffs are awe inspiring as they tower over you. Occasionally you might see a face peering down at you from the top wondering what on earth that strange contraption is you’re stood on.

P5250221bMid point on the paddle to Old Harry

Finally at the end of this last stretch of water you get to meet Old Harry and his wife. These aging chalk formations are a truly impressive sight at close range, they seem much more real when they’re towering above your head only a matter feet away.

P5250223b First view of Old Harry

There is plenty of space to paddle around the bottom of Old Harry and take in the views whilst still remaining within the shelter of the cliffs to the right.

P1140100Mike at the foot of Old Harry

You can land on a small beach right next to Old Harry, perfect, you can sit and admire him in all his glory (see pic below). It sure feels like you are a million miles away from all civilization out on the end.

P1140123View of Old Harry from the neighbouring little beach

It’s not recommended to paddle round the back of Old Harry as there isn’t any protection from the south west wind and swell out there. The sea can get pretty hairy even in the  lightest of winds. This is a total contrast to the other side of Old Harry where you will be totally shielded from the wind by the huge cliffs.

P1140063James meeting Old Harry

This route is suitable for paddleboarders of all levels. This was James’s first SUP, he did a great job, loved it, had a huge smile on his face for the rest of the day!

P1140046My wing man – James

Sometimes dolphins can be seen splashing about in this general area, unfortunately I haven’t been one of the fortunate few that have, maybe next time!

Alternative Route:

Another option is to hang a left from Knoll beach and basically SUP Studland beach. This beautiful beach is approximately 2.5 miles long with a dune/heathland system running the entire length. This route is not as interesting as the Old Harry rocks SUP but worth doing for a change of scenery.

View from the dunes


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2 Responses

  1. the Bilby says:

    Did this one last week. A bit choppy and windy and the swell made me turn back just before I got to old Harry’s. Lovely paddle though.

    • SUP HQ says:

      I love this SUP but am very selective on when to go there. Defo not a spot for launching in an off shore wind and outgoing tide. Could all go horribly wrong. Unless of course you get a kick out of being scooped up by the RNLI haha 🙂

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