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The RSPB nature reserve at Arne is perfect for either a short stroll through the woodland or a full day out walking and exploring. You can discover stunning expanses of rugged heathland and even small bays of Poole Harbour with views across to the Purbeck Hills and Brownsea Island. The resident herd of sika deer can be seen grazing in the field as you walk by, or may even roam onto the path as they are used to humans here. There is also a plethora of other wildlife on the reserve and if you’re not a seasoned ornithologist or would like to know more about hedgehogs, mushrooms or sand lizards, the RSPB team hold regular interactive events and guided walks. A visitor centre and cafe for coffees, cakes and light lunches can be found a short walk from the car park. Parking: The on-site car park is free for RPSB members or £5 for the day. There is a secondary overflow car park to cater for the busier days.
Not strictly an isle, but a peninsula, the Isle of Purbeck is home to a diverse array of wildlife, intriguing historical sites and areas of global geological importance. It has inspired famous writers, attracted historians and drawn holidaymakers for generations. But what is it that makes this corner of Dorset so special? With its stunning sandy beaches, huge variety of walks and fantastic places to eat, shop and explore, anywhere in Purbeck is a unique experience waiting to be discovered.
Some people hike out especially to see it; others happen upon it on their walk, bike or horse ride across Godlinsgton Heath. But whether you’re expecting it or not, the story of this imposing rock that looks like it fell out of the sky is as mysterious as it is big – around 400 tonnes in fact. The legend: Legend has it that the Agglestone was thrown over from The Needles on the Isle of Wight by the devil himself (‘Agglestone’ means ‘Devil’s Anvil’ and it once was anvil-shaped but has eroded over many years.) Some say the devil was trying to hit Corfe Castle (luckily he missed!) Do you dare to touch it? One thing is for sure, if you keep walking, once you’ve seen it you can feel it at your back as you go. Luckily the stunning scenery in this area will make you forget even the spookiest story.
Home to the Anvil Point Lighthouse, built in the 1800s, this is just one location for stunning seascapes and excellent walking within Durlston Country Park. For a more unusual Swanage stay, complete with breathtaking breakfast views and nature on your doorstep, you can rent one of the cottages here.
Whether or not you’re taking a trip on a Swanage Railway steam train, Corfe Castle station itself is well worth a visit, for its vintage charm and picture-postcard photo opportunities. Once almost demolished, the original 1885 station building has now been restored to its former glory and is a timeless feature of both Corfe Castle village and Swanage Railway. Arriving into Corfe by steam train is also the way to travel in style from Swanage or from the park-and-ride at Norden for a day out exploring Corfe Castle itself, and guaranteed to make your visit truly historic. Step back in time at Corfe Castle station Station Master’s office Meet the volunteers dressed in traditional station staff outfits and see inside the 1950s Station Master’s office and lounge area. A porter can show you around and introduce you the station’s historic features, as well as give you handy travel information. Ladies’ waiting area The fully restored Ladies’ waiting room evokes a time gone by and is complete with period paraphernalia throughout. Corfe Castle station museum – Saving the historic Swanage Railway The Swanage Railway line has a huge team of dedicated volunteers who worked for thirty years to save and rebuild the branch after […]
If your idea of a dream day at the beach involves a wild, secluded bay where you can wile away the hours watching the odd passing boat and reading a good book, Chapman’s Pool is hard to beat. It’s a bit of a walk to get to, so little legs and four-legged friends might struggle, and we’d advise wearing a good pair of walking boots or trainers. Worth Matravers is the closest village, where you can warm up at the Square and Compass with a pasty and pint by the log fire after a blustery day or cool off with a cider in the beer garden in the summer.
A historic market town with a beautiful river frontage, located at the gateway to Purbeck If you spotted the signs for Wareham on your way to Swanage, you’ll probably have added this Saxon walled town steeped in history to your must-visit list. Being almost equidistant between Swanage and Poole, Wareham is perfectly placed for exploring what the Isle of Purbeck and wider Dorset county has to offer. You’ll find unique gift shops and an array of cafés, pubs and restaurants, and throughout the year you can pick and choose from a wide range of events including live music and food, art and literary festivals in and around Wareham. With its fascinating mix of heritage and natural beauty, this charming market town, nestled between the River Frome and the River Piddle, is an inviting gateway into the heart of the Jurassic Coast where visitors can explore its rich historic architecture alongside a wide variety of dining options and easy access to nature with views across to the Purbeck Hills. Discover the heart of Wareham Live like a local while you’re here and wander down to get your fresh fruit and baked goodies for breakfast at the weekly Saturday market on the quay […]
England’s only natural World Heritage Site The Jurassic Coast needs no introduction: renowned worldwide for its breathtaking scenery and geological importance, this 95 mile stretch of coastline dominates Dorset’s landscape, history and character. With its countless unspoilt beaches, magnificent panoramic views and endless opportunities for exploration, the Jurassic Coast will take you on a literal walk through time, leaving you planning your next trip before this one’s ended. But where to start? The Isle of Purbeck’s Jurassic Coast Easily explored from Swanage and its surrounding areas, the Purbeck stretch of the Jurassic coastline boasts some of Britain’s most well-loved landmarks and offers a multitude of memories in the making. The epic evolutionary history of the Jurassic Coast Designated a World Heritage Site in 2001 by UNESCO for its ‘Outstanding universal value’ to the study of earth science, The Jurassic Coast is rich with important fossil sites and geological landforms of global significance that span 185 million years – or the Mesozoic Era. The Mesozoic Era is made up of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, but as that was a bit of a mouthful, the Jurassic Coast gained its name from the most well-known of these. Planet Earth’s history is […]
The drive up to Worth Matravers, from either direction (Swanage or Kingston), has some of the most far-reaching and impressive views of the Purbeck Hills and across to Corfe Castle to be found in Purbeck. Despite being a small village there is plenty to see and do, including a family-friendly walk down to the disused quarry caves of Winspit (famously a Doctor Who filming location). There is also a miniature museum within the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) award-winning Square and Compass pub, with its Narnia-style stone tables and seating in the garden. The Square is loved by locals and visitors alike for its relaxed, yet lively atmosphere; its pasties served through a hatch in the wall; an extensive on-site pressed cider collection; and regular live folk bands and open mic nights. People tend to spill out into the garden, which overlooks the sea on a dry day, and in winter the roaring fires inside make for a fantastically cosy experience. The pub also hosts seasonal events such as the Pumpkin Festival in October and Beer & Beard in December (beards are not compulsory, but may be rewarded if they’re exceptionally good). Make your visit memorable For a small place, […]
Prepare to get side-tracked on your way to the stunning beaches of Studland Bay as you drive through the charming Studland village. Its back roads meander around thatched cottages and past pretty gardens, and you’ll spot things for your must-do list as you go, whether that’s to spoil yourself with a meal at The Pig on the Beach, to book in a beach ride at Studland Stables or a table at the Bankes for a restorative drink after a day of walking, swimming or kayaking in the bay. There is also a village shop where you can find all your daily and picnic essentials.
The picture-postcard villages of East and West Lulworth are just as worthy of a visit as the famous Lulworth Cove. Both villages have pretty streets to walk around, with thatched cottages and window boxes galore. The village of East Lulworth is considerably smaller than West Lulworth, but is also home to Lulworth Castle and Park, which makes for a fantastic family day out. It also has a pub, tea room and gift shop. West Lulworth has a distinct holiday buzz about it as it tends to be brimming with beach-related activity all year around. There are plenty of ice cream shops and places to grab lunch or dinner, as well as the chance to try out various water sports at Lulworth Outdoors. Make your visit memorable As with many places in Purbeck one day just isn’t enough, but you can fit in lots of Lulworth’s best bits in one go if you plan ahead a little. If you’re driving, stop off in East Lulworth for a quick mooch around the village with its charming thatched cottages and colourful window boxes. Down a little road named Cockles is a small gift shop and tea room set in the old village school […]
Boasting 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 take 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 overlooking the pretty English country garden and model village at the rear. Explore Corfe Castle itself, which holds regular Viking and Saxon re-enactments that bring history to life with traditional craft and military displays in the castle […]
Situated between Swanage and Corfe Castle, the small size of the village of Harman’s Cross belies its busy and thriving community. The village hall holds regular events throughout the year and is a prominent venue for Dorset’s Artsreach – a charity that brings theatre, comedy and music to rural places such as Harman’s Cross. The village and its surrounding area is popular with campers and caravaners, with various campsites in and around Harman’s Cross. There’s also a fantastic playground (with a zip wire!) that’s suitable for older and younger children, as well as workout equipment. Harman’s Cross railway station A visit to the village isn’t complete without a trip to one of the iconic stations of the heritage Swanage Railway line. Hop on a steam train at Harman’s Cross station for a leisurely journey through the Purbeck countryside to Corfe Castle or Swanage. *Note that, due to Covid-19, Harman’s Cross and Herston Halt stations are currently closed. However, a regular service is running between Norden and Swanage, stopping at Corfe Castle* Please see the Swanage Railway website for timings and tickets: https://swanagerailway.co.uk/re-opening-services Credit: images courtesy of Andrew PM Wright Harman’s Cross village hall Whether you’re visiting for the day, on […]
Langton Matravers lies just two miles outside Swanage and has several excellent walking trails, as well as a village shop, two pubs and a small children’s petting farm. Things to do in Langton Matravers Dancing Ledge: Park at Spyway car park for a stunning stroll over to Dancing Ledge. Putlake Adventure Farm: An indoor soft play area and the chance to get up close and personal to farmyard animals. Keates Quarry Dinosaur Footprints: Disonsaur footprints have been excavated and preserved at this unusual spot. Burngate Stone Carving Centre: Just outside the village, you can try your hand at stone carving. Burngate offers workshops and courses for the complete beginner to the more advanced – the perfect traditional craft to try during your stay.
Just outside the market town of Wareham, the small village of Arne came from humble beginnings, and is known more for its proximity to the RSPB Nature Reserve. However, Arne has an intriguing World War II story attached to it that not many people know about. A Royal Navy explosives factory had been built at nearby Holton Heath during WWI, but fast forward to 1942 and this Cordite factory had become a target. Decoys were set up throughout and around Arne village, complete with guards and fake factory emissions, causing German bombers to mistake the area for the factory. Arne was badly bombed and the area devastated by the subsequent fire that burned for weeks. It is believed there are some 200 bomb craters around Arne village, which had essentially been sacrificed in order to leave the factory in Holton Heath unscathed. The plan was a success, but residents were forced to leave Arne, much like with the more well-known local ghost village of Tyneham. Arne was then left untouched for several years. However, there is now a small, but thriving community enjoying the now peaceful countryside that is teeming with wildlife. It’s definitely a special place to visit if […]