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The poignant story behind the ‘ghost village’ of Tyneham, abandoned during World War II, will stay with you as you walk around its crumbling homes and forgotten farmland. There is information on each family that lived there and the last pages of schoolwork to be completed in the schoolroom have been carefully preserved in this village that simply stopped in time.
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 (the ‘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.
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. There’s also a fantastic playground (with a zip wire!) and you will also find a connection to the Swanage Railway here.
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.
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 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.
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.
Whether or not you’re taking a trip on a Swanage Railway steam train, Corfe Castle station is still well worth a visit. You’ll find it down a small road between Corfe Castle village stores and the Bankes Arms pub. Once almost demolished, the station has now been restored to its former glory and is a true vintage feature of both Corfe Castle village and the railway. It’s also a great photo opportunity, with its 1950s lounge area, ladies’ waiting room and period paraphernalia throughout.
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 and a miniature museum within the Square and Compass pub, with its Narnia-style stone tables and seating in the garden. The pub hosts folk bands and open mic nights throughout the year, as well as seasonal events such as the Pumpkin Festival in October and Beer and Beard in December (beards are not compulsory, but may be rewarded if it’s an exceptionally good one).
Standing watch over the village of the same name, Corfe Castle is an iconic and striking ruin, synonymous with the Isle of Purbeck. Careful restoration and maintenance means the public is able to explore the history hidden in the walls of this famous castle that is over a thousand years old and has survived sieges, treachery and conspiracy. Built on top of a natural mound, Corfe Castle would have been ideally situated to defend from all angles. Its name is also believed to have been derived from the ‘gap’ between the two Purbeck hills where it is situated (which are also fantastic walking routes). Today, you can soak up the stories of betrayal, battles and bargaining as you walk around the impressive Purbeck stone defences and gatehouses. And the village itself is steeped in history: check out the museum housed in England’s smallest town hall; have a pint of locally-brewed ale in The Fox (reputedly the oldest pub in Corfe Castle, circa 1568); and walk ancient pathways across Corfe Common. 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 […]
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? 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 iconic and famous Durdle Door – this natural limestone arch rising from the sea is one of the most photographed landforms in Britain Lulworth Cove – a magnificent sweeping cove that draws thousands of visitors a year can be found at the foot of the picturesque village of West Lulworth Old Harry Rocks – the unique chalk rock formation, known world-wide for its stark white, looming presence, stands boldly off the coast between Studland Bay and Swanage Bay The intriguing and fascinating Kimmeridge Bay – the best place for rock-pooling and fossil hunting in […]
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.
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.
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 […]
The picture-postcard villages of East and West Lulworth are just as worthy of a visit as the famous Lulworth Cove (found at the foot of West Lulworth). Both have pretty streets to walk around, with thatched cottages window boxes galore. 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 and gallery/gift shop. West Lulworth has a distinctly ‘buzzier’ feel as it tends to be brimming with beach-related activity. 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. The natural beauty of this area draws many thousands of visitors a year, especially in the summer months, so arriving to park early or visiting at an off-peak time might help you avoid the crowds.
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.