Isle of…

Tucked away in the south eastern corner of Dorset, the Isle of Purbeck is approximately 100 square miles of land that is bounded on three sides by water. Although not an Island in the strict meaning of the word, it does convey a feeling that is particularly apt. Its dramatic coastline forms part of a unique stretch of coast that has joined the ranks of the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon, as one of the acknowledged wonders of the natural world, and now has the status of World Heritage Coast.

But the reality is far more dramatic than any picture, with Lulworth historically the scene of many a smuggling tale and the despair of the Lulworth Customs Officers. The distinctive shape and natural beauty of Lulworth Cove has featured on many a calendar, so will be familiar to countless of people who have never actually visited West Lulworth itself. But the reality is far more dramatic than any picture.

Lulworth is very much a tale of two halves, with East Lulworth just a short distance inland. C17th thatched cottages cluster around the gates and estate walls of Lulworth Castle, the home of the Weld family since 1641. The castle was built by Joseph Weld on the site of a hunting lodge belonging to Bindon Abbey before the dissolution. At the doorstep of this idyllic location lies The Lulworth Cove Inn, boasting stunning coastal views, warm welcoming bars and outstanding alfresco patio dining. Full of character, great food and hospitality, this historic inn is the perfect place to rest those tired feet in the afternoon sun, or enjoy a memorable meal at the end of the day.

The Welds were a staunch Catholic family of Dorset and their estate was huge. A serious fire ravaged the castle in 1929 and it was left semi-derelict until the 1990s when it was restored and is now open to the public.

Just along from the entrance to Lulworth Castle the road forks. Taking the left fork and then turning almost immediately right onto the army land through the gate, the road leads up to Whiteway Hill through the army ranges. There are some magnificent views on a clear day from the picnic area at the top of the hill. Following the road further on and a sharp turn to the right leads to the deserted village of Tyneham, nestling in the valley below between Lulworth Cove and Kimmeridge Bay.

Evacuated during the Second World War to be used as a part of a firing range by the military, the village now stands as a time capsule. Here you can get a flavour of what life was like in an English rural village in the 1930s and 40s. Interesting and educational, it appeals to all the family. Access to Tyneham is limited as it is situated within the Army firing ranges.

Travel inland again to find one of Purbeck’s two main towns, Wareham. Originally it was a fortified town in Saxon times, being part of King Alfred’s


defences against Danish attacks. It stands in a strategic position on both the Rivers Frome and Piddle, near to where they enter Poole Harbour. At one time Wareham was a busy port but most of the trade disappeared when the river silted up. Water still plays a full part in its attractions, however, the Quay with the tower of Lady St. Mary Church and ‘The Old Granary’ makes an attractive public promenade. From the quayside you can hire boats or take boat trips down the river.

Head south from Wareham and you reach the dramatic landmark of Corfe Castle, now owned by the National Trust. As you explore one of the most impressive ruined castles in England, you will be following in the footsteps of kings, knights, soldiers, workmen, servants, prisoners and all of the people who have lived at, worked in or fought over Corfe Castle during its 1,000 year history.

Corfe Castle - Reinactment

Today Corfe Castle gives its name to a quiet picturesque village in beautiful and peaceful countryside, which is dominated by the majestic ruin. But to the castle builder, William the Conqueror, and his royal successors, this castle, protecting the gateway to the Isle of Purbeck, made it one of the most important in the land. The castle was then deliberately destroyed by an Act of Parliament in 1646 and left as it stands today.

Discover how royalty, warfare and the landscape it sits in have shaped the Castle by reading the timeline and information points. 2018 will see a host of new events joining the already very popular programme of activities. From early summer 2018 visitors can discover The Defiance of Mary Bankes; a new audio experience telling the story of ‘Brave Dame Mary’ and her defence of Corfe Castle during the Civil War.

The castle grounds are perfect for a picnic or you can sample some fine The Tourist Handbook Wessex 2018-19

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