If you have never been to The Purbeck Hills in Dorset on the south coast of England, it’s hard to describe the wonderful scenery that you are going to find here.
The Purbeck Hills are an impressive chalk ridge that runs from Studland in the east, through the village of Corfe Castle, then continuing west, providing a natural defence for the rest of the county of Dorset from invasion for thousands of years.
There are only two gaps in the hills, the Ulwell gap in the east that allows traffic to pass from the seaside town of Swanage north to Studland, and further west the gap at Corfe, with the ruins of Corfe Castle set on a high mound in the middle of the gap.
It was here that we decided to take a day out over the weekend, since we hadn’t been for a few years, and it’s a wonderfully picturesque part of Britain, close to where I grew up.
Corfe Castle itself must have been truly impressive in it’s prime, but it was destroyed during the English Civil War, and even though many buildings in the surrounding village of Corfe Castle have been built with stones that were cannibalised from the castle, it still stands tall on top of it’s mound, and is one of the most scenic castles in the south of England.
The castle is operated by the National Trust, who have done an excellent job of preserving the ruins, without adding any of the trashy elements that you all too often find at other historic sites.
Goats and sheep roam the castle grounds, and provide another opportunity for amateur photographers like myself to snap away and hopefully get a classic shot. They are also funny to watch as they scamper over the ruins, trying to find vegetation to munch on.
The view from the top of the mound and the Keep is impressive, with not only views over the castle and the village, but of the steam railway that runs from Swanage through the gap alongside the castle to Wareham.
The weather on Saturday was practically perfect, and we enjoyed walking around the castle, and looking inside one of the largest National Trust gift shops, which has a lot of nice local items for sale.
There was another reason for visiting Corfe Castle this past weekend though, and that was to visit The Ginger Pop Shop, an Enid Blyton themed shop. Enid Blyton was a well known author of children’s books, who holidayed on The Purbeck Hills and who found inspiration from Corfe Castle and many other locations in the area for her books, and she published over 800 of them during her 40 years of writing.
I have recently completed a page on Squidoo about Enid Blyton, whose books I read when I was growing up, and I went on many wonderful adventures with The Famous Five, one of the series that she wrote.
Having visited the shops and toured the castle, we had a Ploughman’s Lunch in one of the old inns in the village, then drove to the town of Swanage on the coast, where we sat by the beach, had an ice cream, and walked around the shops there.
After we headed to Studland and the ferry at Sandbanks, on our way back home, but stopped off at Studland and walked the half a mile or so across the sand dunes to the famous nudist beach there.
Yes it’s a nudist beach, and it’s been there for a number of years, but there are two wonderful things that it has – aside from naked people! Firstly it’s a lovely spot, quiet and peaceful, not filled with hordes of families with screaming kids. Secondly the view across the bay to Old Harry Rocks and on a clear day like Saturday to The Needles on the Isle Of Wight is just great.
We sat there for a good half hour, then wandered our way back home.
We highly recommend visiting Dorset, and especially The Purbeck Hills. There is so much to see there, especially if you enjoy walking along the cliff paths, collecting fossils, visiting old castles, riding on steam trains etc. You can also visit the nearby Tank Museum at Bovington, go to the beach at Sandbanks and mix with the Jet Set, or get an all over tan at Studland on the nudist beach.
The Purbecks has it all.
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