Swanage, Wareham and Purbeck

Attractions and activities

Attractions

Purbeck has a number of significant visitor attractions – these have already been covered in the main Dorset section, but to remind you!

The Swanage Railway is a preserved steam railway, and visitors can ride through six miles of beautiful scenery passing  Corfe Castle, to the beach at Swanage.  The railway runs family events plus Dining and Sunday Lunch services; and visitors can even take charge of a train by booking a Driving Experience Taster.

A big tourist draw in this part of the county are the majestic ruins of Corfe Castle, not far from Wareham and owned and run by the National Trust (free entry for NT members!)   Visitors can see what the Castle and village would have looked like before its destruction by Cromwell’s troops in 1646 at the Corfe Castle Model Village.  The village of Corfe Castle has many traditional Dorset pubs and places to eat.

Lulworth Castle, built in the early 17th Century as a hunting lodge, became a country house at the heart of a large estate. The Castle and its estate and grounds have been a visitor attraction since 1998 and today visitors can enjoy exploring the Castle, climbing the Tower, exploring the Estate and its  woodland walks,  and enjoying the  children’s playground .

The Tank Museum at Bovington has seven exciting exhibitions displaying the vehicles that have seen action in wars over the last 100 years.   Pay entrance and visitors get a free annual pass to come back. A good place to recommend whatever the weather.

Monkey World is just down the road from the Tank Museum, and full of primates of all kinds. A very popular attraction for families, it can get busy in the school holidays and if the weather is good.

Farmer Palmers is another ideal family day out, particularly for younger children, under 8.  The timetable changes daily, with opportunities to get near to the animals and feed them.  There are several indoor and outdoor play areas for when the weather is wet, and the Hen House Restaurant for families to sit and eat while children play.

Remember, visitors like to have a personal recommendation from you, so if you have the chance to learn more about the above attractions then that will give you more confidence when making recommendations.

Walking

Purbeck is ideal walking country, and many of the visitors who come to Dorset to walk do so with the idea of seeing many of the Jurassic Coast sites such as Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.  Walks of different lengths and difficulty are listed on the Visit-Dorset website, but here are some of the more popular ones:

The South West Coast Path starts at Studland Bay and extends the length of the Dorset coast into Devon and beyond.  There are short guided walks from many of the visitor centres and the South West coast path website has access guidance.

Away from the coast, the Sika Trail is a popular 2 mile circular walk through Wareham Forest.

Visitors can find out more about about the Purbeck connection to T.E. Lawrence on the seven mile Lawrence of Arabia Trail.

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Cycling

There are seven circular cycle rides around the Purbeck area suitable for a variety of ages and abilities.  They all have an accompanying leaflet and a map which can be downloaded here

Extreme Sports

Increasingly Purbeck is becoming known as a centre for extreme sports.   Opportunities for canoeing and kayaking, diving, coasteering, rock climbing and ropes courses can all be found in the area and there are a number of companies offering taster sessions and courses – make sure you always recommend going with an experienced guide.  Look at Visit Dorset for details.  And if you have experience of any of the above, remember to recommend the best places!