Shirley's UK Trip 2012 travel blog

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle

Corfe village from the castle

Lulworth Cove

Today I headed west into Dorset & explored the Isle of Purbeck, home of Purbeck marble, Swanage, Corfe Castle, the Blue Pool, Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door. It’s not an island, now it’s just a peninsular, but it used to be one so the area is still called Isle of Purbeck.

I drove to a Park & Ride car-park just north of Corfe Castle & caught a steam train down through the Purbeck Hills to Swanage. For an extra £1 I could ride in a beautiful old Pulman observation car which was at the back of the train & had windows right across the back so we got wonderful views of Corfe Castle as we went by.

I didn’t spend long in Swanage, just had a look at the beach, which is nice fine sand, & the pier, then caught the next train back to Corfe Castle, which is magnificent. William the Conqueror started building it in 1086, & several subsequent kings added to it until Queen Elizabeth I sold it to one of her favourites, Sir Christopher Hatton in 1572.

Then along came Oliver Cromwell. His Parliamentary forces captured the castle by treachery & he ordered it to be blown up so that’s why it’s a ruin today. It’s been voted one of the most evocative ruins in the country & I can understand why. I was lucky enough to go on a guided tour led by a bloke who volunteers his time because he loves the place so well. He’s a forensic archaeologist by training & has obviously done a fair bit of poking around Corfe, some of it official but I guess a substantial amount of unofficial work as well.

He was brilliant & just full of stories of dastardly deeds which took place here. King John was one of the main culprits but he certainly wasn’t the only one.

I just missed a train so walked back to the parking lot which was about a mile through very pleasant woodland.

My local doctor had spent time in this area at Sandhurst Military Academy & he’d told me I must see the Blue Pool & Lulworth Cove. I’d seen a sign to the Blue Pool just before I got to Corfe so I backtracked a couple of miles & found it but it really wasn’t worth the effort. The weather is still brilliant so I thought it would have lots of colour but it wasn’t anything special at all. It’s surrounded by beautiful woodland & it was a lovely walk around the pool so it wasn’t a total waste of time.

After that dud recommendation, I didn’t know whether to go on to Lulworth Cove or not, but thought I’d better. It was very busy, lots of people everywhere & it is a beautiful spot but an absolutely awful beach. Rough & full of large pebbles, just what we Australians think of typical English beaches. The village of Lulworth is a gem – rows of beautiful thatched cottages but the road is so narrow there was no way I could pull over & take a photo.

Then my final stop for the day was going to be Durdle Door which is just down the road from Lulworth. With such a name it had to be interesting, right? From the photos, it’s a very picturesque arch in the sandstone cliff but I didn’t get there. I drove to the parking lot & started walking down the track but it was so steep & so rough (almost as bad as the beach at Lulworth Cove), that I gave up. I’m glad I did because I was probably only ¼ of the way down & it was still a struggle to get back up.

By that time it was about 4:00pm & I’d had enough so headed for home. It was a long drive. It took me about 1½ hours & there was lots of traffic at that time of the day. My car has 6 forward gears so driving it keeps you busy, especially when you’re driving in traffic. I drove a total of 90 miles today which doesn’t sound like much but when some of it is down very narrow lanes where it’s a relief to get a road with a white line down the middle, it wears you out.

So ends another very satisfying day.

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