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. Arne is one of the best places to go wildlife watching in Dorset.

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

What our guests say

  • A lovely quiet site

    Andy Blackwell

    A lovely quiet site, nice warm amenities with good sized shower cubicles, shop not open yet as it’s too early but the local pub is ideal. Staff were very friendly and helpful. If you’re reasonably fit you can walk into Swanage but the bus service is great so why would you want to. Overall a very nice break, we will be back.

  • Super swimming pool

    Joseph Molford

    Fantastic site, we have had a brilliant holiday. Super swimming pool and changing facilities. Site really handy to get to Swanage and Studland. Will definitely return. Thanks to all the staff for a lovely holiday.

  • Excellent quality caravan site

    Peter Skrobacz

    Excellent quality caravan site, top quality, small and friendly, location fantastic. Been visiting Ulwell for over 25 years now and every year is special.

  • An amazing week at Ulwell

    Jenny H

    We have just returned back from our weeks stay at Ulwell Holiday Park with our 2 small children and dog. It was an absolute brilliant week! The site has everything you need, and more! A lovely comfy pub on site for drinks and a bowl of chips, a small shop, swimming pool, large play are with park, and the bus stops right outside.. what more could you want

  • Easter break


    We have just returned after a brilliant Easter break. Couldn’t fault anything at all and we didn’t want to leave. We didn’t visit the pub but the shop is stocked with local produce and essentials. The facilities are great and the location convenient. Our van was spotless and had everything we needed. We will definitely be back

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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
  • premier park 2020 logo

Finding us


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

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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