Corfe Castle is one of the most iconic landmarks in Dorset and a must visit during your stay at Ulwell Holiday Park. The castle ruins are owned and managed by the National Trust, and offer a Heritage Day out, that the whole family will love
Pack a picnic and head to the quaint village of Corfe to spend the day exploring the grounds and learning about its chequered past. You’ll leave with a greater understanding of British history and will have memories to cherish for years to come.
The historic ruins are perched high on the hillside and create a dramatic backdrop as you drive into the village of Corfe. The picturesque village has changed little over the years, so it will almost feel like you’re stepping back in time.
Park at Castle View pay and display car park (National Trust members park free) and spend some time exploring the village and snapping some pictures to remind you of your visit. There are a handful of independent shops to peruse, including a traditional convenience store, where you can purchase a quarter of your favourite old-fashioned sweets!
If you’re feeling peckish stop by one of the fantastic country pubs and grab a bite to eat to set you up for the day. We highly recommend The Fox Inn and The Greyhound Inn – both have lovely beer gardens with lovely views of the castle towering above.
Corfe Castle has played a prominent role in British history and housed many royals over the years. It dates back to the 11th century and has served as a treasury, garrison, and most recently – a family home.
The impressive building withstood fierce battles and two civil wars. It was eventually destroyed when an Act of Parliament was passed, ordering Captain Hughes of Lulworth to demolish it once and for all.
After this, the castle was returned to the Bankes family who passed it down through the generations for more than 300 years. In 1982 Corfe Castle was given to the National Trust along with nearby Kingston Lacy. The Bankes’ family’s donation remains one of the most generous gifts in the National Trust’s history.
Once you’ve purchased a ticket, head across the bridge and into the castle grounds. Walk high up the hill and explore the castle ruins, taking in the spectacular views across the Purbeck Hills as you climb.
There are lots of information boards dotted around the grounds, which give an insight into the castle and the people who have lived there throughout history. There’s a 3-part audio trail with accompanying video on the Corfe Castle website, which offers a humorous account for visitors wanting a more immersive experience.
Family friendly activities
If you’re visiting with children make sure you pick up an activity sheet on arrival and encourage younger members of the family to search for hidden shields to complete the castle quest. There are wooden blocks for them to recreate some of the structures you see around the site, as well as fancy dress clothing to try out.
Corfe Castle events
Corfe Castle plays host to an exciting programme of events throughout the year. The team go above and beyond to create memorable activities, that are bound to keep the whole family entertained.
From activity trails and storytelling to battle re-enactments, carol services and outdoor cinema, there’s bound to be something special happening during your camping or caravan holiday at our holiday park in Swanage.
Take a look at the ‘what’s on’ page on the National Trust website before your visit, to make sure you don’t miss anything on the day!
Tea Room & shop
If you’re feeling peckish stop at the on-site tea room for a traditional Dorset cream tea or slice of homemade cake. In the winter there’s a roaring fire and in the summer, you can sit outside amongst the flowers and take in the castle views.
There’s an excellent gift shop selling a mix of local produce, homeware and gifts. Treat yourself to a souvenir to take home and commemorate your visit!
Isle of Purbeck walks
Once you’ve finished exploring the castle, take some time to check out the surrounding area. The Isle of Purbeck is home to some of the best walks in Dorset, with routes to suit all ages and abilities. If you’re feeling adventurous, we suggest climbing up to The Purbeck Ridgway where you’ll enjoy commanding views of the Dorset countryside. The elevated position gives you a unique view of the castle, allowing you to truly appreciate its sheer size and scale.
If you’re after something on the gentler side, why not try the Corfe Common history walk? The path is fairly easy and follows the route that the townspeople and their animals would have taken years ago. Along the way you’ll see the remains of Bronze Age burial mounds and carriage marks dating back hundreds of years. The sandstone ridge is ideally suited to families with children and takes just over an hour to complete.
Travelling to Corfe Castle Holiday Park
By Car – It takes approximately 10 minutes’ drive to Corfe Castle from Ulwell Holiday Park. From the entrance turn right onto Darkie Lane and then left onto Ulwell Road. After a short drive take a slight left and then left again onto the B3351. Continue 3.5 miles and then turn right onto the A351. Turn left if you’re heading into the village or right for Castle View car park.
By Train – We think one of the best ways to get to Corfe Castle is via Swanage Railway. Hop on one of the historic steam engines and enjoy a 25-minute journey through the heart of the Dorset countryside. You’ll be treated to magnificent scenery out of the window before alighting at the station in Corfe. From there it’s just a short walk to Corfe Castle where you’ll spend a fun-filled day!
By Foot – If you plan on making the day of it, you could travel to Corfe Castle by foot. This is one of our favourite walks from Ulwell and a great way to take in the views. After the initial climb, the walk is mostly flat and you’ll be rewarded with great views of Swanage Bay and the Purbeck Hills. It takes around 3-4 hours depending on your walking speed, so you’ll probably want to catch the bus back to Swanage at the end of the day!
Is Corfe Castle and English Heritage site
Corfe Castle is owned and managed by the National Trust.
What county is Corfe Castle in?
Corfe Castle is situated in the picturesque village of Corfe in the Isle of Purbeck. It’s a couple of miles from Swanage and Wareham in the county of Dorset.
Can you see Corfe Castle without paying?
You can see the ruins of Corfe Castle when driving or walking through the village of Corfe. It is not possible to go inside the castle without buying a ticket.
How long do you need in Corfe Castle?
You can easily explore the castle ruins in a morning or afternoon. We recommend packing a picnic and making a day of it. The grounds are set in a beautiful location – ideal for relaxing and enjoying the sunshine.
Is Corfe Castle pushchair friendly?
Corfe Castle is a historic building, so access can be difficult at times. There are cobbled footpaths and there are steep steps to negotiate within the castle ruins. The grounds are partly accessible with a mixture of steep slopes, uneven paths and undulating terrain. Pushing a pram can be tricky – especially in bad weather.
Is Corfe Castle dog friendly?
Yes, dogs are permitted in Corfe Castle grounds, however they must be kept on a short lead an under close control at all times.
Can I fly my drone at Corfe Castle?
No. You are not allowed to fly a drone at Corfe Castle to prevent damage and disturbance to wildlife.
Ulwell Holiday Park is widely considered the best holiday park in Swanage and the perfect base from which to explore Corfe Castle. Stay in one of our deluxe holiday homes, or bring your own caravan, motorhome or tent.
Our caravan park occupies a scenic location, surrounded by Purbeck Hills and just a short walk to the beach. We have excellent facilities on-site, including a restaurant, shop, adventure play park and indoor swimming pool.