A day out at Arne Nature Reserve

November 9th, 2018

On a crisp autumn morning what can be better than wrapping up warm, donning your wellington boots and heading out for walk with the family. Within the Purbeck region there are so many beautiful walks and places to discover, but perhaps there are few that offer such an abundance of wildlife as Arne Nature Reserve.

Situated on the outskirts of Wareham, just a 20-minute drive from Ulwell Holiday Park, Arne is managed by the RSPB and open throughout the year. It occupies a unique peninsula location on the edge of Poole Harbour, which affords visitors spectacular views to Brownsea Island and comprises of a variety of landscapes and habitats, which adds to its charm and appeal.

Explore to your hearts content

As you take your first steps into the nature reserve, you will be greeted with vast woodland waiting to be explored. Tall, ancient oak trees line the trails and beautiful heather carpets the ground, creating a magical, almost mysterious environment. As you continue through the impressive forest you will reach the lowland heath for which the reserve is famed, before emerging onto a sheltered and sandy shoreline.

Incredible Wildlife

A team of dedicated rangers work hard to protect Arne and the animals that inhabit it. It has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and home to a number of rare species of plants as well and wildlife, which you can learn about in the onsite information centre. Friendly RSPB volunteers are on hand to educate visitors on the conservation efforts that are being undertaken and offer great advise on seasonal things to see and do.

In the autumn months, you can expect to see migrating birds, such as Osprey’s stop in the reserve during their journey to warmer climates. You may also be lucky enough to spot species such as Spoonbill, Dartford Warbler and Nightjar from one of the reserves hides and viewing platforms as they wade in the shallows of the harbour.

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November is the height of the rutting season, so it’s often possible to see Sika deer roaming freely amongst the forest. Sometimes, whole herds of deer can be seen in the heathland, which is a magnificent site to witness, even for the most seasoned visitor.

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Although you are unlikely to spot them during the colder autumn/winter months, Arne is one of the only places in the United Kingdom where it is possible to find all 6 species of native reptile, including the smooth snake, grass snake and sand lizard.

Fun for all the family        

Within the nature reserve there are numerous marked trails to follow, with paths set for all ages and abilities. The longest is expected to take 2 hours to complete, but there are shorter versions, perfect for visiting with children. There are also clearly marked pathways, which are level and accessible for both pushchairs and wheelchairs.


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Children will love the low ropes course on the Dumbledor Trail, which allows them to play until their hearts content on the wooden climbing frame. Throughout the year there are also a number of exciting events and activities that take place within the nature reserve, that make for a fantastic and unusual day out. Upcoming events include ‘Pull a Pine’, ‘Nature Tots’ and ‘Discover Arne’ guided walks.

There is ample parking on site, which is available free of charge to RSPB members. In addition to the visitor centre there is also a café, to reward yourself after a busy day and a shop to commemorate your visit with a souvenir.

Dogs are welcome at Arne Nature Reserve but must be kept on a short lead.


What our guests say

  • A gem of a place

    Sandra, Winchester

    What a find. I almost don’t want to tell you about it.

    It’s a family park with lovely, mostly new, fresh, clean spacious caravans – all set out almost in steps on the side of a small hill. The larger hill rises behind you, the sea spreads out in front and the swimming pool beckons behind the bar.

    The people are friendly, the site is clean and welcoming and the scenery unbeatable. It’s a gem of a place.

  • Always my no.1 choice when visiting Swanage


    Always my no.1 choice when visiting Swanage. A truly wonderful location, lying under the stunning Ballard Down and surrounded by beautiful countryside. Being only a 10 min walk from Swanage and the coast means it’s conveniently located for all amenities.

    The staff are always very helpful to sort out any problems and keep the site in fantastic condition. A 5-star park.

  • Friendly, clean & well kept

    Cheshire, UK

    Stayed here as a base to tour Isle of Purbeck and go on to Air show in Bournemouth. Not the cheapest site but definitely the cleanest and well thought out.

    Swimming pool , shop and pub/restaurant all in proximity and well kept/stocked. Bus stop right outside entrance. Grass pitches have plenty of space and well drained with shower blocks water/ drain points really handy.

    Will definitely be using this site again.

  • Lovely weekend

    Tina, London

    We have just returned from a lovely weekend caravanning at Ulwell Cottage Caravan Park.
    Lovely clean site with indoor heated pool. We went in the pool around 5pm and were the only ones in there (apart from life guard) it was lovely and warm and clean.

    We walked to old Harry’s rock and then Down into Swanage itself and had fish and chips and an ice cream.
    Staff on the site were helpful and friendly. Lovely stay.

  • Our second, lovely Christmas at Ulwell

    Jane P, Cheltenham

    After the success of Christmas 2016 at Ulwell, we returned again for Christmas 2017 and had another great time. Lovely warm caravan, peaceful and relaxing on site and a fantastic carvery on Boxing Day at The Village Inn.

    Thanks to all staff who were working and made sure we had such a great break away.

All reviews


We are currently at an amazing 4.5 score at TripAdvisor, based upon 200+ reviews from verified guests.

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Proudly associated

Over the years the family has developed the park to award-winning standards and in a style which compliments its surroundings.

  • Camping and caravanning
  • AA
  • British Holiday & Home Parks assocation
  • Poole Tourism
  • Visit Britain

Finding us


From Bournemouth via the Sandbanks chain ferry and following the B3351 into Swanage.

Please note: The Sandbanks Ferry will be out of action until at least October.

From Wareham using the A351 into Swanage, turn left along the seafront towards Studland.


The park is situated on the main bus route from Bournemouth to Swanage.


1 ° 58’ 16” West, 50° 37’ 34” North

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