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 at Ulwell Holiday Park.
1. Corfe Castle, Corfe
Postcode: BH20 5EZ
Distance from Ulwell: 4 miles
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 Dorset 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. Dogs are welcome on lead.
2. Clouds Hill, Wareham
Postcode: BH20 7NQ
Distance from Ulwell: 15 miles
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.
3. Kingston Lacy, Wimborne Minster
Postcode: BH21 4EA
Distance from Ulwell: 23 miles
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.
4. Spyway, Langton Matravers
Postcode: BH19 3HG
Distance from Ulwell: 4 miles
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.
5. Studland Bay, Studland
Postcode: BH19 3AX
Distance from Ulwell: 2 miles
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 (Shell Bay, Knoll Beach, Middle Beach and South Beach), 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.
6. White Mill, Wimborne Minster
Postcode: BH21 4BX
Distance from Ulwell: 20 miles
Photo credit: Jackpeasephotography, Flickr
White Mill is a historic corn mill that dates back to the 18th century. It occupies a tranquil riverside setting on the Kingston Lacy Estate in Wimborne. It has undergone major renovations in recent years and is now open to the public to explore. If you decide to visit, 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. The area is rich in wildlife, so you never know what you might see.
7. Brownsea Island, Poole
Postcode: BH13 7EE
Distance from Ulwell: 18 miles
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 only 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. Keen bird watchers can spend time in some of the hides watching the migrating birds.
8. Ringstead Bay, Ringstead
Postcode: DT2 8NQ
Distance from Ulwell: 22 miles
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.
If you’d like to park closer and avoid the walk, there is a pay and display car park at the bottom of the hill, just a couple of minutes walk from the beach. This is not a National Trust car park, so you will be charged. There is usually a car park attendant at the entrance. The price is around £5 for the whole day.
(Price correct as of November 2022)
9. Hardy’s Cottage, Dorchester
Postcode: DT2 8QJ
Distance from Ulwell: 25 miles
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.
Hardy’s 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. There’s a lovely pond and wild ponies.
10. Golden Cap, Bridport
Distance from Ulwell: 47 miles
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.
Ulwell Holiday Park is a family friendly holiday park in Swanage. Stay in our caravan holiday homes or bring your own motorhome, caravan or tent. We have plenty of facilities to enjoy throughout your stay, including an indoor swimming pool, children’s playpark, bar and restaurant and on-site shop. We’re ideally placed for exploring National Trust properties throughout the county as well as towns and villages along the Jurassic Coast.