A choice of bed and breakfast or holiday let accommodation

 situated in the heart of the Isle of Purbeck.

Wareham

Wareham is a curious and fascinating town. It has a history that goes back nearly 2000 years but flourished in Saxon times and was a strategic stronghold for King Alfred the Great. After seeing action in both Civil Wars, Warehams importance slowly diminished as the nearby town of Poole grew in stature, leaving a picturesque market town on the banks of the Frome.

Wareham is a beautiful town with a great past to explore. It is the gateway to Purbeck and is also a centre for the rural communities providing services for those in the town itself.

Near to the Quay is the Purbeck Information Centre. Set in a 12th Century medeivel church. Across the road is the Wareham museum.

The old Saxon walls that still surround the town make an interesting walk of the boundaries. One of the highlights of the walls is the Saxon church of St Martins which contains early medieval wall paintings and an effigy of Lawrence of Arabia, originally bound for Westminster Abbey.

The towns Quay is now a focal point and, where once it used to be a busy and bustling place with great sailing vessels docking here and taking the famous of to France and beyond, it is now one of the most relaxing places in Purbeck.

Wareham is also gaining a reputation as a centre for locally produced food. Local shops sell a range of local produce and every fourth Thursday in the month, farmers from around the County bring their products for sale. This is coupled with the eldest auction based market in the country and also a new street market every Saturday in the summer.

Corfe Castle

Corfe is dominated by the outstanding ruins of its castle perched above the village on a hill in a gap in the chalk ridge. The castle, built in 1086, was one of the countrys strongholds and strongly defended by the wife of its owner during the civil war, before being betrayed by someone on the inside. For her heroic efforts the parliamentarians allowed her to go free but destroyed the castle to stop it being used in the future. Some fo the ruined stone was used in the building of the village.

Corfe village itself has a lot to offer with family attractions including a model village and interactive exhibition, a steam railway and lots if interesting shop. The buildings are all made from Purbeck stone and this makes the village one of the most attractive in the area.

Swanage

This small town surrounds a beautiful carved bay and offers a seaside experience with a difference. Enjoy the soft sand and the award winning beach front whilst being surrounded by Purbeck's natural beauty and wildlife.

Although the area which is now Swanage used to be home to dinosaurs and Viking invasions, the town itself grew from the stone industry. All around Purbeck Stone was quarried and at one point if a man was not a quarry man he would have been a sailor.

One Victorian made the trade big business working in high profile area of London and took interest in street furniture that was being removed from the city. He brought it back using it as ballast and now Swanage is dotted with lots of old London landmarks including frontages of Billingsgate Fish Market and the structure of Wellingtons clock tower.

Swanage has many attractions including the pier, beach, amusement arcades and gardens and heritage centre. One of the greatest attractions , Durlston Country Park, is also adjacent to the town. This is a large nature reserve with lots of activities for children plus it is one of the best places in England for bird watching and spotting Bottle nosed dolphins.

Lulworth

The Lulworth Estate is situated at the south west of Purbeck and is owned by the Weld family. The scenery around the area is stunning, but the estate also boasts some of the most dramatic in Purbeck. Durdle door with its magnificent arch, Lulworth Cove and Lulworth Castle.

Kimmeridge

The small hamlet of Kimmeridge is humble yet dramatic with great cliffs and a beautiful bay. It is famous for its fossil finds which regularly fall from the unstable rockface. The cliffs are very unstable and visitors should not search or remove fossils.

Bovington and Wool

Bovington is mainly known for its tank army training base. The Tank museum at Bovington is well worth a visit as is Monkey World nr Wool.

Attractions

Within Swanage we recommend the steam railway, which travels from Swanage to Corfe Castle and takes in some of the stunning countryside, at certain times of year children can enjoy a visit by Thomas the Tank Engine and at Christmas the Santa Specials. If you wish to take a picture a good vantage point is located at Harmans Cross.

Swanage is famous for its safe Blue Flag beach. The bathing is very safe and you can take advantage of a zone reserved for swimmers. In the summertime you will find pedalos, deck chairs, canoes and boats for hire and of course our local Punch & Judy show by the clock tower. Dogs are not permitted on the beach from May – Sept. You will find the local Tourism Office on Shore Rd near to the large amusement arcades, here you can arrange hire of the Beach Huts. Please note that Shore Rd is closed until nighttime through the summer months. In the winter months many enjoy a stroll along the seafront or the restored Victorian Pier.

Two arcades can be found in the town one on Shore Rd and the other on the High St. The Heritage Centre can be found on the far side of the square near the fish and chip shop.

Durlston Country Park (follow signs from the town centre) is well worth a visit. The park encompasses The Lighthouse, Castle and Globe as well as the large open nature reserve. Dolphin spotting is available at certain times of the year.

Golf can be enjoyed at the East Dorset Golf Club, Bere Regis. Tel 01929 472244.

Tyneham Village, which nestles above Warbarrow Bay is within the military ranges and is well worth a visit. The hauntingly atmospheric village is stuck in a time warp, the residents were moved out to make way for the army so it stands as it stood in the 40's.

The Great Dorset Steam Fair. Lat weekend in August. Widely recognised as the leading event of its type in the UK with over 2000 exhibits on a 500 acre site. Featuring steam engines, fun fair, old time dancing, heavy horses, arts & crafts, vintage cars etc. Tel 01258 860361

Putlake Adventure Farm. The farm is located within the village of Langton Matravers just a mile from Swanage on the B3069. A great day out for the children who can enjoy tractor rides, pony rides, lamb feeding, cow milking, feeding the ducks or lunch in the café. Many rare breeds of pig, cattle, sheep to see.

National Trust Studland Nature Reserve. Studland is a small village on the Dorset coast near to Swanage. Follow signs to the ferry to Poole and Studland. Studland we believe has the best beach in Dorset, miles of sandy expanse bordered by the Nature Reserve.

National Trusts Corfe Castle. The village and castle ruins are well worth a visit. The castles history dates back many centuries and is reported to be where King Edward The Martyr was murdered. The castles active history ended when it was blown up by the Roundheads during the Civil War. Within the village you will also find a model display of the castle and small museum.

Poole Quay. Home of many museums, many maritime in nature. Hive of activity especially in the summer months. Find the superbikes on a Tuesday evening until the end of September.

Maiden Castle. Is the largest hillfort in England extending to some 45 acres. The hillfort was first occupied around 3000 years ago and contains a complex arrangement of ramparts and ditches. In AD43 the Romans attacked the castle. Today you can still see the foundations of a Roman temple build in the 4th Century. The castle is maintained by English Heritage and many finds are exhibited in Dorset County Museum.

Lulworth Castle. Fine example of a 17th Century castle that belongs to the Weld family. 01929 400587

Wareham Museum. East St, Wareham. Local bygones and a special section on Lawrence of Arabia.

Boat Hire & Watersports

Blue Line Cruises between Swanage and Poole. 0200 0960695

Divers Down Diving School. The Pier High St, Swanage. Boat charter, day tuitition. 01929 423565

Lulworth Marine. Lulworth Cove. Boat hire and boat trips along the coast. 01929 400560

Marsh's Pleasure Boats. The Quay, Swanage. Trips to Brownsea Island and Old Harry Rocks, lighthouse and caves. 01929 427659.

Pierhead Watersports & Sea School. The Pier, Swanage. RYA Powerboat, waterskiing, tubing. 01929 422254.

Shell Bay Sailing Centre. By the chain ferry, Shell Bay, Studland. RYA recognised school.

Cycle Hire

Bike About. 71 High St, Swanage. 01929 425050.

Fishing

Purbeck Angling. 28 South St, Wareham. Fishing tackle and bait. 01929 550770 Rempstone Fisheries. Nr Corfe Castle. 3 lakes for coarse fishing. 01929 427421.

Golf

East Dorset Golf Club. Corfe Rd, Studland. 18 hole course. 01929 472244 Wareham Golf Club. Sandford Rd, Wareham. Tel 01929 554147

Horse riding

Bovington RAC Saddle Club. The Stables, Bovington Army Base. 01929 403580 Lulworth Equestrian Centre. Kennel Farm, Coombe Keynes, Nr Wareham. 01929 400396

Outdoor Pursuits.

Brenscombe Outdoor Centre. Studland Rd. 01929 481222

Sports Centres

Purbeck Sports Centre, Worgret Rd, Wareham. 01929 556454 The Vista Pool. Swanage Caravan Park, Priests Rd, Swanage.

Tennis

Swanage Beach Gardens, Swanage. Tennis & bowling green. 01929 424339 Recreation Ground, Worgret Rd, Wareham. 01929 553006

Leave the car behind

Linkrider. 01929 553528

Wilts & Dorset. 01929 552740

First Southern National. 01305 783645

Norden Park and Ride. Situated just north of Corfe Castle, this site has room for 500 cars next to the steam railway that runs every 35 minutes in summer and every hour in winter. The train runs from Corfe Castle via Harman Cross to Swanage town centre. Situated just off the main A351.

Walks

The Isle of Purbeck is renowned as a walking area. Swanage is also the start of the South West Coast Path which we understand is the longest in England. The coast has been awarded World Heritage Site Status one of few natural phenomena to be awarded in Britain.

Please make sure that you take sturdy walking shoes and a map. We would also advise that pets should be kept on a lead when stock are grazing. Please do not disturb wildlife and remove your litter.

The South West Coast Path follows the whole Dorset coastline. It starts at Shell Bay near Studland then past Swanage to Kimmeridge, which is a popular watersports venue and home to the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve; the path then crosses military land for several miles.

Two Rivers Walk – Wareham. Taking in both the River Piddle and River Frome. Leaflets can be purchased from Purbeck Information and Heritage Centre, South St, Wareham.

Dorset Coast Path. The coast path stretches the length of the purbeck Coast, though detouring inland at Swanage, and forms part of the South West Coast Path, Englands longest trail. There are main rewarding sections that can be walked, some not too strenuous and the views are outstanding.

The Purbeck Way. The Purbeck Way leads down through an amazing variety of landscapes and habitat to the spectacular coastline and continues west with a special loop taking in other areas of the district.

Corfe Common – for details visit the National Trust centre Corfe Castle.

Lulworth – 'walk packs' are available from the Heritage Centre in Lulworth. Please note that the ranges are often closed for firing.

Purbeck Cycleway. Cyclists may enjoy the rural roads which take in the picturesque cottages dotted about the County. A way marked cyclist trail has been developed you can find a free leaflet at the TIC.

Wildlife

On the Isle of Purbeck land managers and farmers are maintaining the 30 habitats and over 200 species of conservation interest that make it so special. Purbeck is one of the richest districts in the UK for wildlife.

Look for Red Squirrels on Brownsea Island or the little egret around Poole Harbour which is the second largest natural harbour in the World.

Dolphins are often spotted of the Dorset coastline, Durlston is reported to be good spot to go watching.

The Isle of Purbeck has several nature reserves including Studland and Hartland Moor. Hartland Moor can be accessed by turning off the Corfe Castle to Wareham Rd at the Halfway Inn. The moor is managed by English Heritage and is a mixture of pasture and heathland. The area is open land and you are welcome to bring pets. You can often see native ponies and cattle grazing as well as deer.

Purbeck unique geology is the key to its special character and wildlife. The coast is a World Heritage Site designated for its internationally famous sedimentary rocks, which were formed 100 million years ago. Dinosaurs once walked across the soft shoreline sediments, and the remains of an ancient fossil forest can be found east of Lulworth. The natural processes acting upon the rocks have formed today's attractive landscape including spectacular and world famous features such as Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door. The great diversity of rocks that underlies Purbeck has created a varied range of soils which support a number of habitats. The heathlands, chalk grasslands and reedbeds are of international importance to wildlife, including butterflies, birds and plants.

Marine Environment

Purbecks marine habitat occur in two distinct area, the exposed open coast from Durlston Head to White Noths and the sheltered Poole Bay. Rockey limestone reefs are found at Durlston, St Aldhems Head and Kimmeridge. The wide variety of habitats support wildlife from the seashore to the open sea. The pier at Swanage helps support wildlife including the Talbot Blenny. Durlston is one of the best places in the country to see dolphins, and boat trips along the coast give great views of the limestone cliffs inhabited by breeding puffins, guillemots and peregrine falcons.

Rivers & Wetlands

The Frome and Piddle are fine examples of chalk rivers. They flow into Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. This is of international importance for its rich and varied plant and animal life. Around Wareham, the Piddle meadows are rich in wild flowers, whilst from the Frome towards Poole Harbour there are views over salt marsh and reed beds. The river and wetland wildlife includes otters, water voles and birds such as the redshank, lapwing and black tailed godwit.

Grassland and Meadows

The Purbeck coast, ridge, Lulworth Ranges and Corfe Common are all important grassland sites. They form the stronghold for species such as Lulworth Skipper and Adonis blue butterflies, early gentian, early spider orchid and wild chamomile. To maintain these areas requires grazing by cattle and ponies.

Heathland

This unique habitat lies at the heart of the Isle of Purbeck. Heathland is very important for biodiversity in the landscape and supports many rare species including Dorset heath nightjar, Dartford Warbler, marsh gentian, sand lizard, ladybird spider and smooth snake. Studland Heath and Hartland Moor are both National Heathland Reserves.

Other sites of interest

Affpuddle Forest. Heathland site managed by Forest Enterprise. GR SY 805 925 and SY 815925. Pictic tables and waymarked walk. Cyclists welcome.

Arne. A nature reserve on the edge of Poole Harbour. SY 973 878 Car park.

Brownsea Island. A tranquil island in Poole Harbour managed by the National Trust. Renowned for red squirrels, deer and rare birds. Facil: Wheelchairs, shop, exhibition, restaurant. GR SY 032877/028 878. No dogs.

Corfe Common. Dorset largest working common, managed by National Trust. GR: SY 958818. Guided walks through the National Trust.

Dancing Ledge. An old cliff quarry, offers access from the Purbeck cliffs to the sea. Rock climbing by permit only. GR: SY 997 769

Durlston Country Park. Owned and managed by Dorset County Council. Superb area of coastal grassland and seacliffs. GR: SZ 032 773 Hartland Moor.

Lowland Heath and mire grazed by cattle and ponies. GR: SY 963 856

Lulworth. Stunning Heritage coast with cliffs and chalk downland. GR: SY 824800

Kimmeridge. Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve. Accessible rocky shore with rich marine life. GR: SY 909 787

Studland. National Nature Reserve of dune, heath and woodland. GR: SZ 035 835. Open All Year.

Tyneham. Deserted village in a marine environment. Open most weekends.GR: SY 895 816

Wareham Forest. Walk through heathland and forest. Waymarked walks. GR: sy 907 894

History

Purbeck as a land mass 20 million years ago was much further south and was made up primarily of muddy swamps and lagoons. At this time dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures lived in the region. Many footprints have been found all over Dorset. Locally the quarries at Worth Matravers have found many examples. Examples can also be seen in the museum at Corfe Castle.

As time went on layers of mud and rock became compacted and the land mass moved northwards. As the European and African plates collided this landmass buckled in a ripple effect and this has created the dramatic scenery and geology that Purbeck is famous for today.

Most representatives of ancient man have been known to have settled in the district and the name 'Purbeck' comes from the Purbik – meaning a beak shaped ridge frequented by bittern or snipe.

The Saxon Walled town of Wareham is well worth a visit. Guided walks are available throughout the year, please visit the Tourist Information Centre near the Quay on South Street. Due to its status and its strategic location, many Viking raids were staged in the area. This lead to the Great King Alfred commanding that great Saxon walls were built around the town. Much of the town having thatched roofs burned to the ground some centuries ago. From the quay you can take a boat trip out into Poole Harbour. The River Frome was an important waterway in bygone days before it became too shallow and was the site of many Viking attacks.

Medieval times brought to the area two castles, one at Wareham built on the orders of William the Conqueror, and one which majestically remains at Corfe Castle. There were many battles in the two civil wars that took place in the area, with King Stephen and Empress Matilda taking part in a fight for Wareham Castle.

During Victorian times, Swanage began a rejuvenation. Purbeck stone had always been an important asset for trade. Purbeck marble was used to decorate the country's finest cathedrals. The company Mowlem was born and is still in existence. Purbeck stone paved some of London's finest streets. The money was poured back into the town allowing the construction of Durlston Castle and Park.

Agriculture also has in the past and today played a great role in Purbeck History. Not only has it played a part in shaping the areas landscape but it has been an important source of employment. Much of the area is owned by large estates which have retained the areas special qualities.

Moreton is famous as the birthplace of TE Lawrence better known as Lawrence of Arabia and also for the church's unique engraved glass windows by Lawrence Whistler.

Most of Enid Blytons famous five novels are based upon The Isle of Purbeck and the characters she met here. Policeman Plod from Noddy is based on the last Studland Police officer.

Thomas Hardy was born in Higher Bockhampton, a small village just three miles outside Dorchester in 1840. He attended a local school and on turning 16 worked for a local architect. In 1861 he moved to London to work as an architects assistant remaining in the city until 1867. At the age of 31 having moved back to Dorset, he then published his first novel Desperate Remedies. He married Emma Gifford in 1874 and became a full time writer. He designed the house Max Gate, which was built by his brother on the edge of Dorchester in 1885. Thomas Hardy wrote many novels and poetry, his last being Winter Words in 1928 the year he died. Thomas Hardy lived in and wrote about Dorset. His cottage at Higher Bockhampton is owned and maintained by the National Trust. His Casterbridge is the County town of Dorchester, within Purbeck he included Affpuddle, Bere Regis and Woolbridge Manor at Wool in his novels.