Corfe Castle to Poole

The Jurassic Isle of Purbeck

Corfe Castle to Poole: 19.5 miles in 2 days at a leisurely pace

Summary

A gentle saunter around the Jurassic coastline of the Isle of Purbeck, starting inland at Corfe Castle, where the Normans built a stronghold in the strategic gap in the Purbeck Ridge, with far-reaching views in every direction. Dropping down to the coast through a green valley bright with gorse and blossom, you follow the Purbeck Heritage Coast through a landscape of chalk cliffs and limestone quarries, as well as spectacular chalk stacks offshore, and grasslands with more species of native and anciently-introduced wildflowers than in any other area of Britain.

Highlights

The remnants of the Norman fortress at Corfe Castle remain in view, high above the rooftops of the village, for several miles as you drop from the Purbeck Ridge through a gorse-and-bracken heathland riddled with prehistoric barrows to a green pastureland seamed with tumbledown stone walls. Thorn bushes, stunted and deformed by the winds that blow in off the sea, line the ancient green lane as you follow the Purbeck Way down to the coast, and the steep hillsides either side of the stream are terraced with strip lynchets cut in them centuries ago to increase the area of land available for crops.

Joining the South West Coast Path you are into a landscape of chalk grasslands, heaped with bracken and brambles and dotted with wildflowers and the butterflies they attract, including the rare Lulworth skipper. The path is a thick white scar rising and falling around turf-thatched headlands made of chunky strata of limestone blocks tunnelled through with square-edged caves, and generations of quarrying have left fascinating features such as Dancing Ledge, a ballroom-floor of limestone high above the waves crashing into the cliffs and cutting gashes in the soft rock. The famous white chalk stacks off the coast at Swanage are breathtaking in their beauty, and a four-mile swathe of golden sand leads you on to the ferry to Poole.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Corfe Castle to Swanage – 12 miles (19.5 km)

Day 2: Swanage to Poole – 7.5 miles (12 km)

Relevant section guides

We have split the path into 52 sections, and for each one have produced a section guide. These pages do not aim to replace the guidebooks, but aim to give a flavour of what each section is like, and show you about the highlights and places of interest along the route, along with links to accommodation information and much more. The relevant section guides for this walk are:-

Day 1: Corfe Castle to Swanage – 12 miles (19.5 km)

Day 2: Swanage to Poole – 7.5 miles (12 km)

Travel

The Swanage Railway Company provides a rail service between Swanage and Corfe Castle, running steam trains as well as diesels. For details see www.swanagerailway.co.uk. There is also a train service from Weymouth to Bournemouth via Poole. During the summer a limited bus service runs between Worth Matravers and Swanage, and regular buses run between Swanage, Poole and Bournemouth, stopping in Studland village and Shell Bay. For details of trains and buses see www.travelinesw.com or phone 0871 200 22 33. The ferry from Shell Bay to Sandbanks runs frequently every day throughout the year. Phone 01929 450203 for details, or see www.sandbanksferry.co.uk