The Legend of Old Harry

Oct 31, 2014 | Sea Adventures, Kayaking Adventures, Kayaking Tours

We know our adventure stomping ground in Studland’s Bay is something pretty special. It marks the beginning of the Jurassic Coastline, a UNESCO World Heritage sight, for one. But dig a little deeper for the legend of Old Harry Rocks!

legend old harry rocks dorset cliffs sea landscape

Secondly, our patch of Dorset also happens to be an iconic landmark, filled to the brim in myth and legend! Pirates and the Devil himself make their shady contribution to the history of our home.

old harry stack kayak explore adventure sea

Spoken of lovingly by locals, the familiar chalky stacks and stumps at the end of a popular cliff line. Old Harry is like an old friend to villagers and Dorset-goers, yet the legend of Old Harry is steeped in the less-lovely…

kayak dorset coast chalk cliffs explore

The Devil Himself

One legend claims that the stack of Old Harry is so named because the Devil, for whom Old Harry is an age-old nickname, had a sleep on the famed rocks. Echoing this devilish tone, there is an old saying that speaks of someone ‘playing Old Harry,’ which would rather brutally mean ‘to ruin or destroy.’ The rocks were supposedly named to give warning to ships to keep their distance from the treacherous cliffs.

legend old harry rocks dorset sea cliffs coast

The Legend Of Old Harry – Pirates Abound

The other of the two tales of the legend of Old Harry is about one infamous individual. Harry Paye was a pirate who called the Poole area his home. He made it a place of terror and trouble as he spent his days attacking the merchant ships that sailed in and out of Poole Harbour. therefore. it’s said that the iconic stack and arches were named after this very Harry as the caves became a hiding place for his loot.

sea kayak dorset explore cliffs

It is even possible that these two tales make a legend combined! Harry Paye, with his reckless and vigilante ways, giving him the title of the devil!  Furthermore, the rocks could have been a place where he inevitably slept as he squirreled away his contraband.

sea kayak explore dorset

Thus, we’ll let you choose your favourite legend of Old Harry! We love looking back on the past, as well as making our own adventure tales now! These caves we explore, stacks we circle, and arches we pass through from the water’s surface make a sea playground like no other.

Adventuring in the footsteps of pirates and legend. That’s how Fore does it.

Find out more about our adventures here.


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Starting with four Kayaks and a hut on the beach, Fore has evolved to include, sea, shore and solid ground adventures to get big and small humans in the great outdoors. Read our story.


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