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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ in our dreams!
The Bakers Arms to Swanage
via Holton Heath, Sandford, Wareham, Stoborough, Norden, Corfe Castle & Harmans Cross.
left click to see page
Brownsea Island Map
Corfe Census 1841
Corfe Census 1851
Corfe Census 1901
Corfe Census 1911
Corfe Model Village
Corfe Street Map
Kings & Queens
Map, Brownsea Island
Map, Corfe Street
Model Village, Corfe
Swanage, by Air
Swanage, in Bloom
Reverend William Joseph de Kilpeck / Kelpeck / Kalpeck / Kalpack / Kilpack / Killpack, b.c.1848 d.1939, m.Katharine / Katherine d.1914
Tucked away in the south eastern corner of Dorset,
Purbeck is some 60 sq. miles of land that is bounded on almost all sides by water and
although not an island in the strict meaning of the word, it does convey a feeling that
is particularly apt.
The name "Purbeck" reputedly translates as "beak-shaped ridge which is home to bittern or snipe", which is Saxon. The beak-shaped ridge we might assume refers to the Purbeck Hills.
The name "Purbecks" is oft times used - PLEASE - it really should be "Isle of Purbeck" which would refer to the area bounded by the blue dotted line, or "Purbeck" which perhaps encompasses a larger area north to Lytchett and west to Bovington and Lulworth.
To take a tour round Purbeck you can start in the north in Poole Harbour taking in Brownsea Island which being part of Studland is therefore part of Purbeck. The harbour links to the English Channel at Sandbanks/The Haven/Shell Bay. This break in the coastline is crossed by the renowned Chain Ferry.
You continue south past Studland Bay, Swanage Bay, to Peveril Point.
Turning west takes you round Durlston Bay and Head, past Anvil Point and the Lighthouse to the southernmost promontory of St.Aldhelms Head which is also known as St. Albans Head.
A swing north and west further along the coast past Chapmans Pool and the grounds of Encombe House, recently sold for the princely sum of £16 million.
Another residence you find is Smedmore House and then Kimmeridge, the site of a working oil well complete with nodding donkey. Kimmeridge is overlooked by the Clavell Tower, sadly in danger of falling into the sea.
Another mile is the village of Tyneham, abandoned during the war. At Worbarrow Bay, just short of Lulworth and the Tank Firing Ranges, where you must swing north and inland to meet up with Luckford Lake which is presumed the western boundary to Purbeck leaving most of Lulworth to the west.
Further north at West Holme you join with the River Frome which meanders easterly, passing the south of Wareham to flow into Poole Harbour where we started our tour.
All of this is the perfect destination for ramblers, watersport enthusiasts, naturalists, rock climbers and ornithologists (even the Dartford Warbler has been seen locally), in fact anyone who appreciates the great outdoors.
If your fancy is solitude and a peaceful rustic retreat there are plenty of typically picturesque villages dotted all over Purbeck.
For those on the road the nearest major road is the A35 which winds its way from Bournemouth through Parkstone and Poole on to Bere Regis, the county town of Dorchester, and then Bridport.
The connection to Purbeck is made via the A351, sometimes referred to as the spine of Purbeck, at the Bakers Arms public house just west of Upton.
This initially straight but very slow road, since it is badly in need of a bypass, passes through Holton Heath and Sandford, and on to Wareham which has had a bypass since 1980 (north section) / 1988 (south section).
When talking of Purbeck, Wareham is considered part of it but since it is mostly north of the River Frome perhaps it's not, and is best considered as the gateway to The Isle of Purbeck. Almost at the centre of Wareham in East Street, is Wareham Town Museum, which is a terrific source of local history. Check it out on its web site for times of opening.
The A351 continues through Stoborough leaving Ridge and Arne to the east with Furzebrook and Blue Pool to the west.
Furzebrook, Blue Pool and the Norden area have long-standing connections with the extraction of ball clay used for the production of many everyday items including china, especially that of Josiah Wedgwood. This is dealt with in great detail by the Purbeck Mineral & Mining Museum at Norden.
Driving on you come to the Norden roundabout where the first left is your connection to the Park and Ride for the Steam Railway which runs through Corfe, under the infamous Afflington Bridge, through Harmans Cross, Herston, and into Swanage.
We would venture to suggest that if you are visiting primarily the railway that you park at Norden Park & Ride since parking in Swanage can leave you some distance from the Railway Station.
Staying with the road ahead, the railway viaduct is above and to the left, and Corfe Castle soaring up to the right.
A sedate drive through Corfe village past the right turn to Kingston, and indirectly to Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers, takes you, this time, OVER the infamous Afflington Bridge, through Harmans Cross, and eventually to Swanage finishing at the sea-front/Shore Road.
If you wish to look at the backwoods to the North-east of Corfe, before you ascend into the village is a sharp left turn between some cottages which takes you into Sandy Hill Lane, underneath Swanage Railway, through Challow, Sandy Hill, Little Woolgarston, Woolgarston, Underhill, Knitson, to Ulwell/North Swanage. This lane is narrow and should be driven with caution.
In rough terms from Wareham to Corfe is 5 miles and Corfe to Swanage also 5 miles.
The alternative route having passed out of Bournemouth into Branksome is to take the left turn on to the B3065 and a little over 2 miles passing Compton Acres Gardens to be faced with Poole Harbour, left again on to the B3369 (running from Poole town), for just over a mile through Sandbanks to board the chain ferry for Studland and Swanage, again finishing at the sea-front/Shore Road. Something of a source of amazement at Sandbanks is that it is now home to some of the most expensive property in the UK, where something worth less than £1,000,000 being something of a rarity.
Purbeck, being somewhat cut off from the rest of Dorset has limited public transport in the form of the No.50 (was 150) bus from Bournemouth via Sandbanks/Ferry, and the No.40 (was 142/143/144 until 2008) from Poole via Holton Heath, Sandford, Wareham, Corfe, Kingston, and Langton Matravers to Swanage. There are now (2008) only two No.44 buses per day from Swanage to Worth Matravers via Harmans Cross. Buses via Corfe to Swanage were once shared between Langton Matravers and Harmans Cross. Now all except two go via Langton Matravers. Harmans Cross seems almost not to exist for the bus company.
The Swanage Bus Station is literally outside the Railway Station.
If travelling from further afield by public transport, Wareham Station is on the London-Waterloo to Weymouth line with the bus-stop a few yards from the London-bound platform.
Purbeck offers Swanage to those who want a traditional family seaside resort; they don't come much better. It has a sometimes award winning beach (European Blue Flag and Tidy Britain Group's Seaside Award), the bathing is relatively safe with a gently shelving beach where there are various boats including pedloes for hire, and a Punch-and-Judy. You can of course just lounge in a deckchair. Ice-cream and food is a few footsteps away, with a wider choice of food within a few hundred yards. You can choose from traditional fish-and-chips, seafood specialities, continental, or just a simple cream tea. There are many pubs serving food, bistros, and take-aways to cater for most tastes.
Above the sea-front are a number of recreations for both adults and children, including open-air band concerts, folk festivals, a jazz weekend, Rotary Club and Round Table events, and of course the fireworks at each end of the Swanage Carnival Week in July/August.
The Mowlem Theatre, where the sea-front meets the town proper, a varied programme of films, shows and plays are available throughout the year, whilst the Vista complex at Swanage Caravan Park is an entertainment centre with a heated indoor pool, skittle alley, indoor bowls complex and 'trimnasium'. There are tennis courts at The Beach Gardens above the sea off De Moulham Road, also outdoor bowls rinks and a putting course. More recently a putting course has been added at the side of Victoria Avenue just short of the car park as you head for the sea-front.
There are golf courses nearby, in particular the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club on the Studland Road where the beginner can use the 9 hole Dene Course and the more accomplished golfer the Purbeck Championship Course. They are both founded on heathland set in a Nature Reserve.
The Club dates from 1892 and was once famously owned by Enid Blyton, writer of childrens books, and husband, Kenneth Darrell Waters.
Swanage offers an abundance of watersports and scuba-diving, great fishing and the opportunity to take many sea excursions. Why not take a boat trip to Brownsea Island or Poole.
Swanage is privileged in the early tourist season to have the Motor Vessel Balmoral, and in the late tourist season the now famous Waverley Paddle Steamer visit, and run trips eastward to Bournemouth, The Isle of Wight, The Solent and westwards as far as Weymouth.
An aerial photograph of Swanage gives a perception of its classic bay configuration.
The previously mentioned Steam Railway will one day actually permanently re-connect the service to Wareham severed in 1972. A connection from Wareham to Furzebrook was however maintained to serve the rail-head for the oil-well at Wytch Farm which 'cannot' be seen to the north of the A351 before you reach Corfe.
Purbeck, from Wareham to Swanage, was allowed on the 8th September 2002 to witness the latest (shortened) Virgin Explorer train making the first through connection for 30 years.
The line was originally started in 1883 and finished in 1885, it actually became part of what was then the London & South Western Railway in 1886.
Swanage in Bloom is for those who enjoy floral displays, They adorn the gardens during spring and summer and the town has earned many awards for them which include the 'Southern England in Bloom' award, and also for the efforts of the residents in their own private gardens.
For those seeking more information, a great source is The Swanage Tourist Information Centre, whose location is:
The White House, Shore Road, Swanage BH19 1LB
Telephone: 01929 422885 Fax: 01929 423423 firstname.lastname@example.org
More recently a Heritage Centre has been added adjacent to The Square in Swanage.
Above Swanage to the south, lies Durlston Country Park, 263 acres of countryside overlooking Purbeck's Marine Research Area. The Park is perfect for walking, picnics or just relaxing. At the Park Centre visitors of all ages can learn about the fascinating local ecology and wildlife; watch Durlston's nationally important Guillemot colony live on TV and listen to sounds from the seabed picked up by an underwater microphone. Whilst at the Country Park you can eat at the adjacent Durlston Castle, and also view the famous Globe which is literally a handcrafted stone Globe perched on the run down to the cliff edge, which in turn hides the Tilly Whim Caves beneath.
For the slightly more adventurous you can walk round The Lighthouse and further to Dancing Ledge, Winspit, Seacombe and St Aldhems Head. All of these have footpath routes back inland to both Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers, also Kingston.
Standing in the heart of Purbeck is the picturesque village of Corfe with its dramatic ruins of a mediaeval Castle. Now run by the National Trust, the castle, once the most fortified in all England, was systematically destroyed after the Civil War.
From this vantage point, you can enjoy stunning views across the Purbeck landscape to the sea.
If you want to 'see' the Castle in all its former glory, you must check out Corfe Model Village.
For those interested in the royal line of succession encompassing the story of Corfe see Kings & Queens.
The other main town in Purbeck is Wareham, although not strictly in Purbeck because it is north of the River Frome. Wareham was once a major port during the Middle Ages.
Almost every side turning in the town reveals a new visual delight and the quaint quayside area is a perfect place to sit relax, have a meal and then take a peaceful river journey down the river Frome towards Poole Harbour.
Being surrounded on three sides by sea water, coastal Purbeck boasts some of the best seaviews and spectacular scenery along the whole of the south coast.
It was very fortunate that because of the outstanding geology and palaeontology, the Dorset (and East Devon) coastline has been listed as a Natural World Heritage Site and Jurassic Coastline.
The Coastal Path through Purbeck is a small part of the South West Coast Path, one of England's National Trails. The whole path begins at Poole and follows the south coast to Land's End, then north and east to Minehead in Somerset.
For the middle-aged, and older perhaps, who have been fortunate enough to read "The Famous Five" by Enid Blyton, Purbeck is to some degree an inspiration for some of her books. Corfe Castle (Kirrin Castle) and Brownsea Island (Whispering Island) to name just two features in those adventures.