Isle of Purbeck

One of Britain’s most accessible and rewarding natural beauties, the Isle of Purbeck richly deserves its reputation as a first-rate holiday destination.

The historic market town of Wareham is effectively the gateway to Purbeck and from its position on the River Frome was the region’s principal trading port until the rise of Poole in the 13th century. 

Just nine miles separate it from the coastal resort of Swanage, which makes an ideal holiday base for exploring Purbeck by foot, bicycle, car, bus or even train – restored by volunteers Swanage Railway has now opened a regular mainline service to Wareham and the national network.

Nestling between, atop and even on the sides of the rolling Purbeck hills are some of the country’s most picturesque villages like Langton Matravers, Worth Matravers, Harmans Cross and Arne, many blessed with classic ‘chocolate box’ cottages built from the warmly weathered mellow local stone that for centuries has been hewn from the line of quarries that pepper the coastal downs.

Today that ridgeway provides wonderful walking routes with endlessly dramatic views from Old Harry Rocks that watch over the beautiful beaches of Studland in the east to the craggy rock formations of Lulworth Cove in the west. 

As well as richly diverse wildlife and many rare species, the route offers at least eight major rock types and a host of beauty spots including the ancient tumuli on Nine Barrow Down, the mighty ruins of Corfe Castle, Chapman’s Pool, St Aldhelm’s Head, the ‘lost’ village of Tyneham, Kimmeridge Bay, Lulworth Cove and the world famous Durdle Door.