Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Swanage, Ocean Bay & Shep's Hollow

Ocean Bay, Swanage looking back towards the town.

Just to confuse people the Restaurant that gave this area the local name of  'Ocean Bay' is now called the Bull and Boat, the bay is still called by its former name.... after all, this is Swanage, and things change slowly in Swanage.

This beach runs under the low cliffs that form the northern part of the bay, there are hotels above which leads to the locals referring to marks such as under The Grand or The Pines. There is a concrete wall and walkway serving the chalets here which can be used for easy access along from the town beach. Alternatively you can walk down a footpath at the side of the Grand Hotel in Burlington Road if you can find somewhere to park there. There are toilets at the bottom of this path near the beach. A large reef stretches out from the area under the Grand obliquely towards the point of Ballard Down, fishing is good here if you can guess where the reef is and measure your cast accordingly. You will be able to judge the proximity to the reef by the number of small wrasse you catch if using ragworm, if the water is clear the reef can be seen as a dark patch.
 The beach here is private but you should find no problem if fishing after the other beach users have left in the evening or out of the holiday season.
Access to the remoter part of the beach is a long trudge along fine shingle or via a section of the coastal path that is signposted from a small private estate.. To drive to this mark take the road towards Studland; you will enter a one-way system, do not take the left to Ulwell and Studland but go straight on up to the junction, turn right (back towards Swanage) and in front of you is Ballard Way with a shop on the left hand side as you enter this road. Parking will be a problem here, Ballard Lee is a private estate with private roads and has a barrier pole across the entrance, but parking is available on the roadside on the public roads nearby. Walk through the estate, the coast path is signposted, you will cross a small grassed area and to the left are steep steps which bring you down onto the beach at a place known locally known as Shep's Hollow,

Low tide at Shep's Hollow, looking towards Ballard Down.

The beach is shallow as the photograph shows, but is good for bass and sole and in summer can produce gar and mackerel to float fished mackerel strip baits. Various flatfish and rays are also possible from here. On very high tides the sea can reach the soft unstable cliffs and you can become cut off; take care, otherwise a good place for children.

updated 16/08/07

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