Corfe Castle must be one of the most famous ruined buildings in the country! Built in the reign of William the Conqueror and described as “A very fayre castell” it was badly damaged during the English Civil War and is now a magnificent ruin cared for by the National Trust. There is much to see within its walls, and the views from the castle walls can be superb, stretching across the heath to Poole Harbour and across the valley south towards the hills beyond.
Below the actual castle is the attractive village of the same name. It, too, is well worth exploring, and from the station you can take the train on the Swanage Railway to the seaside and not have to worry about parking. There is also a park and ride station signposted just before you reach Corfe Castle from which you can travel to the village – the station is only five minutes’ walk from the entrance to the castle and parking in the village can be difficult at peak times.
To reach Corfe Castle take the A352 east to Wareham, turn right at the roundabout you reach just outside the town, and follow the road signs to Corfe Castle and Swanage.
If you would like a day on the beach instead, when you pass the visitors’ centre at the bottom of the hill at the entrance to Corfe Castle, turn left under the railway bridge and follow the signs to Studland. The beach there is also owned by the National Trust and is a four mile stretch of sand that shelves gently into the waters of Poole Bay, with views of Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight. As well as the beach, which includes the most popular naturist beach in the country, there are designated trails into the sand dunes and woodlands behind that allow you to explore a haven for native flora and fauna. The village of Studland, incidentally, was the inspiration for ‘Toytown’ in Enid Blyton’s ‘Noddy’ books.