No trip to Swanage would be complete without a steam train ride on the Swanage Railway, which is the ideal way of travelling to historic Corfe Castle. A delightful way of getting to Corfe is by parking the car at Norden Park & Ride and picking the train up there.
Encompassing the towns of Swanage and Wareham; the historic village of Corfe Castle; Lulworth, with its castle and scallop-shaped cove; and Studland with its vast expanse of sandy beaches, there are many reasons to visit the Purbeck area.
Look across Studland Bay to the famous landmark of Old Harry Rocks. These chalk stacks are made from the compressed remains of tiny sea creatures. The stacks are said to be named after Harry Paye, a Poole pirate. There is a legend that says the Devil himself, traditionally known as “Old Harry” had a sleep among these rocks.
The charming seaside town of Swanage has been at the centre of the local stone industry since Roman times. Purbeck marble has been used in the building of Westminster Abbey and the cathederals of Lincoln, Salisbury and Exeter. The town’s gently sloping and sheltered beach runs the whole length of the town and is consistently awarded Blue Flag status. Here you can enjoy the many water sport activities on offer, such as sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and pedalo hire, or simply relax and soak up the sun. Various pleasure boats offering a variety of trips depart from the restored Victorian pier – you can enjoy a cruise along the Jurassic Coast.
Durlston Country Park lies just one mile from Swanage: with 280 acres of wonderful cliffs and countryside, including the amazing coastal path. A ‘gateway’ Visitor Centre to the Jurassic Coast includes a spectacular cafe, exhibition area and gardens with fabulous sea views.
Whilst you are in Dorset be sure to visit Corfe Castle, the village best known for its castle ruins which dominate the local landscape. One of England’s greatest strongholds until it was destroyed by Parliamentarians in 1646, the castle is now owned by the National Trust and open to the public daily. The village which is popular with tourists, has a small selection of individual shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants.
From Sandbanks catch the chain ferry over to Studland with it’s wonderful dune beaches. The Studland Peninsula is a nature reserve of sand dunes and heath, its sandy beaches stretches continuously for three miles from South Haven where you can see Old Harry Rocks. There are several trails through the dunes and heathland behind the beach, the countryside is said to have the most wild flowers per acre in Britain. All the beaches are owned and run by the National Trust (free parking for National Trust members).
Knoll Beach is a sandy beach with a gradual slope into the sea, ideal for children. This is the most popular of the Studland beaches with good facilities and watersports hire. South beach is smaller but has a hidden gem in Joe’s Cafe a snack shack right on the beach serving great grub. Just up the hill is The Bankes Armes, this award winning Inn is a great place to retire to in the evening to watch the sunset over the sea, with top quality food and drink.
We recommend taking the chain-ferry over from Sandbanks! From the campsite take the A338 to Bournemouth and take the exit (signposted Westbourne), left hand lane. At the roundabout Sandbanks is signposted – take 3rd exit (The Avenue). Follow the signs to Sandbanks and Ferry Approach for the Chain Ferry. Here’s a link to the timetable – http://www.sandbanksferry.co.uk/