The recently restored Durlston Castle is a Victorian-era centerpiece that sits in the midst of a country park and national wildlife reserve. A restaurant, shop, Gallery, and exhibits are featured inside the Castle, while different trails are available and fun family-friendly events are held outside on the grounds.
Inside the Castle’s Visitor’s Center, you’ll find interactive displays and exhibitions. Artwork is featured in the Fine Foundation Art Gallery with changing exhibitions, live music, and performances. Some of those exhibits include fossils, audio-visuals, and live wildlife cameras. Castle guests can also take in spectacular views of the park from the Belvedere and roof terraces, which are popular spots for wedding ceremonies. Before you leave, you’ll want to visit the Seventhwave Café and restaurant and the gift shop that are located inside of the famous castle, which is fully equipped with lifts and ramps for wheelchair accessibility throughout its four stories.
The Café serves breakfast and lunch with a locally sourced menu. Coffee, teas, homemade cream teas, and light bites are also offered daily. Visitors will find books, souvenirs, postcards, children’s items, bird food, binoculars, and artwork inside the shop, along with essentials like ice cream, chocolate, and cold drinks. One of the highlights is a children’s activity book full of games and puzzles that are meant to be used with the Clifftop and Woodland Trails.
Outside, four waymarked trails allow visitors to explore the clifftops or woodlands, enjoy wildlife, or take a longer stroll to Swanage and back over more than 300 acres of grounds. You’ll find leaflets available in the Castle that covers each trail if you’d like more information before choosing one. Recently, an Astronomy Centre with an observatory was also added to the grounds. The Durlston Castle, country park, and wildlife reserve hosts different seasonal events throughout the year. Special walks, stargazing, flower-themed guides, boat trips, talks, art exhibitions, and children’s events, including ‘Wild About Art’, a dolphin-themed event, and ‘Delinquent Dinosaurs and Fantastic Fossils’. All events can be viewed on a calendar on the Durlston website with dates and times.
The park is open year-round, from sunrise to sunset. The Castle is also open every day of the year, with Christmas day and Boxing day being the only exceptions. Occasionally, parts will be closed off for wedding ceremonies. Opening time for the Castle is at 10 am all year, and closing time falls between 4 pm and 5 pm, depending on the time of year. Parking rates start at £2 for one hour up to £5 for an all-day visit April 1st through October 31st. In November and March, it costs £2 for all-day parking on weekdays and £3 on weekends. Those charges help pay to keep facilities running and to cover land management, and free entry is offered to those entering the park or Castle. Dogs are welcome, so long as they are on a lead. Water bowls are provided on the terrace and waste bins are scattered throughout the park.