Old Harry Rocks are the remnants of a long stretch of chalk that once connected England to the Isle of Wight, until large sections eroded away over millions of years. The chalk was formed from the skeletons of plankton and other microorganisms that drifted to the bottom of the sea and became compacted. The rocks have been shaped by the force of the ocean, which entered cracks in the chalk structure and eroded certain areas, leaving caves, arches, stacks and stumps. The rocks have different names, such as Old Harry, Old Harry's Wife, No Man's Land and the Pinnacles.
The best time of the year to visit is generally in spring and summer with warmer weather and calmer seas, while autumn and winter offer dramatic views and fewer crowds. You can also enjoy different colours and flowers depending on the season. Whenever you go though, you'll be amazed by the beauty and diversity of this unique rock formation.
- Check the weather and tide conditions before you leave. Avoid paddling in storms, strong winds or currents that are beyond your skill level.
- Wear a life jacket at all times. It's not only a legal requirement, but also a lifesaver in case of an emergency.
- Dress for immersion. Even if it's warm outside, the water can be cold and hypothermia can set in quickly. Wear a wetsuit or a dry suit depending on the season and water temperature.
- Bring essential safety gear such as a whistle, a communication device, a bilge pump, a spare paddle, a paddle float and a towline. Know how to use them in case of a situation.
- Don't go solo. Paddling with a buddy or a group is safer and more fun. Stay close to each other and communicate regularly.