Top 10 National Trust Sites in Dorset

June 3rd, 2021

There are almost 20 National Trust sites in Dorset that can be enjoyed during a stay at our holiday park in Swanage. These include opulent stately homes, immaculately landscaped gardens and beautiful beaches along the Jurassic Coast.

If you’re a National Trust member, entry is free, making a trip to one of the National Trust sites a cost effective day out. Here we list just a handful of our favourites to discover during your stay.

 

Corfe Castle, Corfe

Corfe Castle Dorset

The ruins of Corfe Castle are not to be missed during your stay at Ulwell Holiday Park. They are situated in the picturesque village of Corfe and can be accessed by car, steam train or scenic walk from our site. The historic castle is perched high on a hilltop, offering commanding views of the surrounding countryside. As you walk around the site, you’ll be transported back in time and can learn more about its turbulent past.

There’s plenty of activities to keep even the youngest members of the family entertained, including dressing up clothes, reenactments and various themed events throughout the year. Visitors can pay a visit to the on-site tea room and gift shop on the way out, to pick up a souvenir to commemorate the fun-filled day out.

 

Clouds Hill, Wareham

Clouds Hill National Trust

Photo credit: Terry Ballard, Flickr

Pay a visit to Clouds Hill and tour the home of T.E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia as he is more commonly known. The small cottage occupies a delightful woodland setting and remains largely untouched, even after all this time. As you walk around the various rooms you can peruse the unique decor and treasures from around the world. There’s a library with a large collection of leather bound books alongside a music room, bunk room and motorbike shed.

A team of volunteers are on hand to regale stories from the past. The house has has been kept intentionally dark to preserve the historic interior, so the National Trust advise visiting during the summer months.

 

Kingston Lacy, Wimborne Minster

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is one of the most picturesque country estates in Dorset. The venetian style stately home is situated in sprawling parkland grounds and features opulent decor and an impressive fine art collection. It is home to the largest private collection of ancient Egyptian artefacts in the UK. Guided tours are available to view the lavish furnishings up close.

The gardens are as impressive as the home itself. The estate boats 8,500 acres of expertly landscaped grounds including woodland, wildflower, heathland and Iron Age hill forts. Our personal favourites are the Japanese garden and kitchen garden – which is thought to have inspired Queen Victoria!

Kingston Lacy is the perfect family day out in Dorset. Pack a picnic and spend a leisurely afternoon exploring everything there is on offer.

 

Spyway, Langton Matravers

Spyway dancing ledge

Enjoy a scenic walk along part of the South West Coast Path at Spyway, Langton Matravers. The limestone cliffs bear the scars of hundreds of years of quarrying and boast spectacular views along the Jurassic Coast. As you walk along the well trodden route keep your eyes peeled for unusual plant species and the various wildlife that calls this rugged location home. You’ll often see seabirds soaring high in the sky, and if you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of dolphins jumping in the waves below.

 

Studland Bay, Studland

studland bay

Photo credit: Harry Lawford, Flickr

Studland Bay is just a short walk from our holiday park in Swanage. This magnificent stretch of coastline is among the best in the county, offering beautiful views towards Old Harry Rocks and the Isle of Wight in the distance. There are 4 beaches to choose from here, each with a slightly different offering. Knoll Beach is perhaps the most popular boasting watersports hire facilities, a cafe and gift shop.

The beaches are flanked with rugged sand dunes and a nature reserve to explore. Take some time to follow the footpaths and see what you can find. A range of wildlife can be spotted including insects, deer and various species of birds.

 

White Mill, Wimborne Minster

bridge at white mill

Photo credit: Jackpeasephotography, Flickr

White Mill occupies a tranquil riverside setting on the Kingston Lacy Estate. It has undergone major renovations in recent years and is now open to the public to explore. We highly recommend participating in a guided tour with one of the National Trust’s knowledgable guides. They will give you an up close look at the original wooden machinery and highlight the stories of local families that once worked in the mill.

Make sure you take some time to explore the local scenery. Pack a picnic to share on the banks of the river or enjoy a leisurely walk across the bridge to the water meadows beyond.

 

Brownsea Island, Poole

Brownsea island

Brownsea Island is one of the most interesting National Trust sites in Dorset. As the name would suggest, it is only accessible by boat, which adds to the adventure in our opinion. The island is the largest in Poole Harbour and famed as the founding place of the Scout movement. It is home to plenty of wildlife, including the elusive red squirrel.

There’s lots for children to do during a day out on Brownsea. They can explore the woodland in search of animals, complete an activity trail or let off some steam in the natural play park.

 

Ringstead Bay, Ringstead

Ringstead bay

Photo credit: Mark, Flickr

Ringstead is the perfect destination for a lazy beach day. While away a couple of hours relaxing on the shingle and taking in the views along the coast. The beach is ideal for swimming, kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. It’s also a popular with snorkellers and spear fisherman thanks to the underwater reef a couple of metres from the shore.

One of our favourite things about this beach is that it’s relatively quiet in comparison to others in the area. The National Trust car park is situated at the top of the hill, so there’s a bit of a walk to the beach, but you can reward yourself with an ice cream at the bottom! There’s a small kiosk selling beach goods as well as hot and cold snacks. There is also a children’s play park and toilet facilities.

 

Hardy’s Cottage, Dorchester

hardy's cottage

Photo credit: Paul Snelling, Flickr

Visit the birthplace and childhood home of acclaimed novelist, Thomas Hardy whilst exploring Dorchester, Dorset’s county town. Little has changed in the property over the years, allowing you to look into the various rooms and imagine Hardy’s life here all those years ago.

The cottage is set in an idyllic woodland setting with a stunning garden and access to an abundance of beautiful walking trails. After visiting the house, we encourage you to take a walk around Thorncombe Woods and see for yourself the natural landscapes that inspired some of Hardy’s earliest works.

 

Golden Cap, Bridport

golden cap

Photo credit: Robert Mulligan, Flickr

Take a walk to the highest point on the South Coast and enjoy far reaching views across Lyme Bay. From the elevated position you can see Portland Bill in the distance and as far as Start Point to the West. It’s a bit of a climb to the top of Golden Cap, but the panoramic views certainly make up for the energy spent. Pack a hot drink and snacks to refuel at the top.

We personally recommend combining a trip to this Jurassic Coast beauty spot with a walk around Langdon Forest. The circular route cuts through ancient woodland and offers a glimpse of stunning bluebells during the spring.

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

    David

    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

4.5

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

Latest reviews

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

BY ROAD

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.

BY BUS

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

GPS

1 ° 58’ 16” West, 50° 37’ 34” North

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