I love exploring locally; sometimes I think it’s easy to forget what’s on the doorstep. So having had withdrawal symptoms from campervan living in California and with the weekend free, Matt and I decided to head to the Purbecks in our van for a mini adventure. The Isle of Purbeck or the Purbecks for short is nestled nicely on the Jurassic coast in Dorset. A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2001 the Jurassic Coast got its name due to its impressive geology….and runs for 95 miles all the way to Devon. You can actually walk the whole thing along the South West Coast Path.
We stayed at Burnbake campsite near Corfe Castle. The campsite does not take reservations and there are no marked pitches so turn up, pick a spot that takes your fancy and that’s it! The campground has a small shop on site, a toilet and shower block, washing up facilities, laundry room and a pop up café with a tent and log burner. The cafe serves up a great English breakfast for £5. The cost was £12 per night for one adult with a tent and car or campervan plus £6 per extra person. Burnbake allows campfires but they must be contained, we hired a fire pit for £4 and bought logs from the shop, perfect!
Worth Matravers was at the top of my list of places to visit. It is a tiny village full of Purbeck stone cottages, a duck pond, tea rooms and the Square and Compass pub. From there we followed the coastal path to Winspit quarry on the edge of the cliffs. It is very popular with climbers and also has some very dark, eerie caves to explore. We continued along to the National Coastwatch Institution lookout station and St Aldhelm’s Chapel. This 13th century chapel is still in use today and has very old graffiti on the stone walls inside, some of which from what I could make out were from the 16th century! This lovely walk was around 5 – 6 miles and only one thing was on our mind on the way back…a cider and pasty at the Square and Compass. We made it back to Worth Matravers and went straight to the pub for our well-earned treats! I love the fact that this pub only serves pies and pasties, so simple! It also randomly has a small fossil museum inside, a great showcase of all the amazing fossils and artefacts uncovered along this magnificent stretch of coast.
A Sunday stop off at Lulworth Cove and lunch at the Lulworth Cove Inn was a nice way to finish the weekend before heading home. This perfect horse shoe shaped bay has crystal clear turquoise water and is beautiful all year round. There are some fantastic walks along the cliff top from the cove, we just had enough time to go on my favourite stroll to Durdle Door before we said goodbye.
More things to do in Dorset…
Corfe Castle, towering high above the village of Corfe this is a great place to stop for a photo opportunity, we didn’t have time to climb up but I loved seeing the imposing ruins on the drive to and from the campsite.
Poole harbour is another great spot for exploring, having lunch or for a weekend break. We stayed at Hotel du Vin right in the harbour for Matt’s birthday earlier this year: A weekend in Poole, Dorset. The sun was shining and a lovely boat trip around Brownsea Island rounded off the weekend nicely.
Swanage has a steam railway, which travels 6 miles from Swanage to Norden, one of the stops on the line is Corfe Castle, this would make for a great day out. Buy a day ticket or spend an evening dining on it, I’ve not had the chance to go on it yet but I would love to experience the dining train.
If you find yourself in Dorset soon The Swanage and Purbeck Walking Festival is taking place from 19th – 27th September, a good excuse to explore the many walks in this part of the world.
Dorset has the prefect mixture for adventure with coast, valleys, rugged cliff tops and tiny village hideaways to explore. There is so much to do in this beautiful area I still need to go back for more!