Swanage and Purbeck Attractions and Museums

The Isle of Purbeck is not really an island but a peninsula bordered by the English Channel to the south and on the east, sandy beaches and steep cliffs. The marshlands of the River Frome and Poole Harbour are to the north and west with the Victorian seaside resort of Swanage in the south. There there some great attractions and museums in this area:

Brownsea Island

Was the home of the Scout movement and immortalised as Kirrin Island in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five Books is situated in Poole Harbour. To get there just catch a little yellow ferryfrom Poole Quay. Famous for its red squirrels, sika deer and seabirds it offers great walking fabulous views of Poole Harbour and the Purbeck Hills.

Wareham Town

A small Saxon walled market town and has a good choice of pubs, restaurants and specialist food shops. The once busy quay now forms a relaxing focal point and offers boat trips up the River Frome.  It has a famous gas-lit cinema called The Rex which was built in 1889 and has been used as a cinema from the 1920’s; it is one of the few cinemas where you can enjoy a glass of wine or a pint with the film.   The tiny church of St Martin’s situated on the old walls is one of the most complete examples of an Anglo-Saxon church in Dorset. It contains many interesting artifacts as well as an effigy of Lawrence of Arabia.

You can hire a boat, or take a cruise on one of only three working paddle steamers in the UK or take a ferry boat into Poole Harbour and beyond….

Arne, RSPB Nature Reserve

563 Hectare Nature Reserve with fantastic wildlife. Wander through Beech woodlands, heathland, butterfly meadows and wetlands to a small beach. You will see wild Sika Deer, wading birds, butterflies, squirrels and hopefully a Nightjar or a Woodlark. Check with the Wardens at the Visitor Centre for what to look out for.

Margaret Green Animal Sanctuary

In the village of Church Knowle visit the cats, dogs, horses and farm animals. Free admission and parking, but donations are welcomed.

The Blue Pool

Set in a clay bowl within 25 acres of heath and woodland, this pretty spot has sandy paths criss-crossing it. You can see plenty of wildlife, whilst being amazed by the colour of the water (caused by the clay particles). This attraction is also home to a tea room, shop, museum and Wareham Bears.

Swanage is what every British holiday is all about, a Victorian seaside town in a bay with a long sandy beach, promenade, a pier and a steam railway. It marks the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast and has spectacular walking. It is a festival town with something going on most weekends.

8022718714_1b05453e73_mThe Swanage Steam Railway

The Steam and Diesel Engines run from Swanage to Corfe Castle along 6 miles of beautiful countryside. They also offer various dining experiences and run special events. You can even drive one on a Driving Experience!

Swanage Museum and Heritage Centre

The collection covers the Jurassic Coast, eminent citizens such as Thomas Hardy, local historic buildings and artefacts from Purbeck’s fascinating history.

durlstonglobeDurlston Country Park

A 280 acre wildlife park on the western edge of Swanage. Start at the castle which houses the cafe/restaurant and shop, then wander through the park gazing out across open downland and out to sea. The park is filled with fantastic wild flowers including wild orchids. The wildlife is in abundance around the park, you can view live webcams of  seabird colonies on the cliffs, there are 30 different species of butterfly and occasionally you might spot a dolphins.

Swanage Pier

A Victorian pier that is currently being restored, the views are excellent from the pier and there’s nothing quite so nostalgic as a promenade on a traditional pier. Most boat trips and diving experiences depart from here.

Corfe Castlecorfe

This castle ruin guards the gateway to Purbeck and has been a fortification possibly since the Roman times. It is on a natural hill and dominates the local landscape. It was defeated by treachery during the English Civil War. Today you can wander round the ruins and often there are special events happening. There is a National Trust shop and Tea Room. The village is largely made up of stone buildings and has lots of interesting shops and a selection of eateries.

Corfe Castle Model Village

See the village in miniature and feel like a giant! Set in an acre of garden with a tearoom and shop in the centre of the “life sized” village.