Site Review: Ballard Down
Many people visit Ballard Down each year. It forms the eastern end of the Purbeck Ridge and is well known because Old Harry Rocks stand in the sea off the very end of the down. A challenging climb from some directions but the reward is stunning views away to the Isle of Wight in the east and over Poole harbour and on to the north Dorset hills to the west. To the south you can see over Swanage Bay and Durlston Point and way out to sea.
Although the top of the down provides the best views, the south facing escarpment slope provides the best natural interest with an abundance of flowers and a prime site for butterflies. Indeed, two of the rarest British butterflies, the Adonis blue and the Lulworth skipper can be found here in good numbers along with many other species including the declining wall brown.
My preferred route is to take the road from Studland to Swanage and to park in the lay-by on the left; right by the Swanage town sign. From the end of the lay-by you can go through a gate and take the path that runs up the slope. Not only is this one of the easiest routes to the top it takes you past the best wildlife.
See more photographs and my species list here: