With one of the most unique and beautiful settings in the UK the historic Corfe Castle village is a truly special spot on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, nestled beneath the ruin of Corfe Castle itself.
Steeped in history, with the castle still keeping watch over its streets, the village of Corfe Castle offers plenty to explore – from the museum housed in England’s smallest town hall to the ancient pathways and burial mounds across Corfe Common.
Why not have a pint of locally-brewed ale in The Fox, reputedly the oldest pub in Corfe Castle, (circa 1568) or have a stroll around the village’s storybook streets, gift shops and period railway station.
Make your visit memorable
Both locals and visitors like to make a day of it by arriving to Corfe Castle in style on the Swanage Railway steam train. If you’re an early bird, Corfe Castle Model Village does an excellent full English/vegetarian breakfast, with courtyard seating outside to the front and terrace seating over looking the pretty English country garden and model village out the back.
The castle holds regular Viking and Saxon re-enactments that bring history to life with traditional crafts and military displays in the castle grounds. And there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore, along with a wealth of information as you go on Corfe Castle’s turbulent history. Stop at the top for impressive views across the village.
There are plenty of lunch options in the village itself, but if you fancy DIY-ing it, you can grab everything you need for a picnic at the village bakery and the Corfe Castle Village Stores. Be warned…to get from one the other you have to pass an ice cream shop called Box of Delights, so you may get side-tracked! You’ll find a cut-through to a picnic area and playground on both East Street and West Street, with views across The Halves common.
Take a stroll up West Street for pretty thatched cottages and access to Corfe Common with views reaching across to Kingston and Church Knowle.
You’ll also find various independent shops in the village in which to buy a special memento of your day. Try the model village for pocket money-spending; Seasons Green for a mixture of pretty, practical and handmade gifts; and the Gallery at 41 for local artists’ work.
Check the calendar for Corfe Castle Village Hall, which holds various events throughout the year including productions by the local amateur dramatics society, Double Act; travelling shows via Artsreach Dorset; and charity evenings such as barn dances and quiz nights.
Dogs are welcome in the castle on a lead
Public toilets can be found near the entrance to Corfe Castle and in the car park on West Street
Walks in and around Corfe Castle
- Corfe Common – amble your way around the gently undulating hills of Corfe Common. This 90 hectare expanse of grassland has been largely left untouched for over a thousand years and has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Walk along ancient pathways and over burial mounds while taking in the views of Corfe Castle and its beautiful surrounding area. Depending on the time of year there may be animals grazing and an array of wildflowers
- Corfe River – a favourite walk for families leads you around the outside of the castle, across a footbridge and to a stream complete with (unstable but out of a storybook) stepping stones and a small wooden play area along the riverbank – a lovely picnic spot (have this one as a photo caption once have the pic)*
- Nine Barrow Down – a short climb up the hill behind the railway lie nine Stone Age burial mounds. You can walk all the way to Swanage along this ridgeway of the Purbeck Hills
- King’s Wood – a hidden gem along the Corfe – Studland road. There is only room for a couple of cars to park (approach slowly due to the bend in the road), but if you see one grab it for a quick (but fairly steep) walk through an ancient woodland. It brings you up to Nine Barrow Down through a path flanked by wild garlic and bluebells, season-depending, and you may see deer and rabbits deep in the trees. Note that some of these woods are privately owned, so stick to the waymarked path
- Hartland Moor – this is a great walk if you’re coming on the steam train and stopping at Norden. There are various start-points along the road toward Arne to peaceful pathways through a huge expanse of heathland, which carpets the area when in bloom
- Corfe Castle Rings – a short walk from the village will bring you to the remains of a second 12th Century castle. These are only earth mounds now, but the views across Corfe and the surrounding landscape is well worth a visit.
- Studland Trekking Centre – the riding stables doesn’t offer lessons but it does offer hacking for both novices and experienced riders across heathland and along the beach
- Dorset Adventure park – a short drive outside Corfe Castle village is Dorset Adventure Park – with two inflatable courses and a mud trail
- Croquet – for a more gentle form of exercise head to the Model Village. It’s not a full-size croquet lawn, but is guaranteed to bring out your competitive spirit nonetheless!
There are four pubs in Corfe Castle, which all serve food and between them host regular live music, quiz nights and charitable events (note that The Castle Inn only allows dogs in the beer garden). There is also a bistro and two cafes.
Many of these feature locally-produced meat and fish, and Dorset-grown ingredients – with The Pink Goat even serving organic goat meat from the nearby Swanage Gourmet Goats.
And if you’re a fan of gin, despite its modest size, Corfe Castle Village Stores stocks over 100 different kinds. Local Cedar Organic eggs with their fantastically yellow yolk can also be bought in the shop.
- Swanage – spend a day at the seaside in Purbeck’s only seaside town with its beautiful sandy bay, watersports and countless places to eat, relax and explore
- Swanage Railway – step back in time on a steam train. Each stop along the way has its own unique area to explore and things to do
- Margaret Green Animal Rescue Centre – a lovely afternoon out for young children and fans of four-legged furries in the nearby village of Church Knowle. The centre cares for a range of animals, including cats, rabbits, horses and even pigs – be warned, you may be tempted to bring one home with you. The New Inn is a good spot for a roast while you’re there, but book ahead
- Harman’s Cross playground and village hall – a great playground for all ages. Tie in with one of the regular events this active village hall runs
- Lulworth Estate – encompassing Lulworth Castle and park, and the stunning Lulowrth cove and Durdle Door
- Tyneham – a ghost village abandoned in World War II. With an incredibly poignant story, this village and nearby walk to Worbarrow Bay makes a great day out
- Studland – with four sandy beaches, a pretty village, miles of walks through sand dunes, heathland and even a walk up to Old Harry Rocks, there’s plenty to do for the whole day
How to Get to Corfe Castle
The number 40 Swanage to Poole bus runs hourly each way throughout the day
Take the Swanage Railway to Corfe Castle for a day out without driving. Corfe Castle railway station is just a couple of minutes’ walk from the village square and castle.
If you’re coming from further afield, South Western trains stop at Wareham where you can pick up the no. 40 bus or a taxi.
For your SatNav: BH20 5EZ. The village is situated on the A351 between Wareham to Swanage.
There are various car parks in Corfe Castle – the National Trust car park is the nearest for the castle.
There is also a pay and display car park in West Street.