After spending the morning exploring Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, we made our way to the village of Corfe Castle. As we approached the village on the A351, we hit traffic and anticipated stressful half hour. Corfe Castle towers over the road approaching the village. At the very least, the traffic meant we were able to get a good view of the castle on the way in. The traffic also meant that we struggled to park.
We tried the National Trust car park first, but found it full, so we tried the car park in the village. Again, it was full. Dan and I huffed, and I suggested we try the National Trust car park again. We should just wait until someone else was leaving. Logical plan, right? We pulled into the car park and found ourselves behind a car indicating. Just ahead of them, a woman was climbing into her driver’s seat. Jumping at the chance, Dan pulled in front of the car to reverse into the upcoming space, but we both jumped as the car behind us tooted. We could see the driver angrily gesticulating in the mirror – we hadn’t realised he was trying to pull into the same spot.
Dan waved an apology, and pulled forward to continue round the car park. As luck would have it, a car started to reverse out of a space, and we were able to nip in! When I went to get a ticket, I caught eyes with the driver of the other car, visibly furious that he was still waiting. I couldn’t help but laugh.
Directly over the road from the car park is a trail leading to the village. Ted had to leave his mark just as I was trying to take a photo – my apologies National Trust! The path leads past a field and into a small woodland area which is tended to be a natural play area for children. It was a very warm afternoon, and there were families playing in the stream that ran through it.
Since we had no children to take to the natural play area, we crossed the bridge and continued towards the village. The stream is on your right, and the castle is at the top of the hill to the left. It’s a little bit imposing, which I guess is the point! What was quite exciting was seeing the ruined chunks of the castle scattered on the hillside.
We reached the village, but because we had a designated entry time (thanks Covid) we had to wait about 45 minutes. We wasted time by wandering through the National Trust shop, with Ted as it’s dog-friendly, and stopping off to use the toilet. The village was certainly very scenic. Usually I really enjoy exploring quaint little spots, but it was so busy that it wasn’t fun at all. I was expecting someone to stamp on Ted.
Roughly 10 minutes from our entry time, I got impatient and asked if we could come in early. The answer was yes (I think there was a one group in, one group out system) so we snuck through the welcome tent, feeling a little naughty, especially as the person on the gate started to turn people away behind us.
Obviously, the first thing you notice is the ruins of the castle on the hill ahead, but on the right hand side of the entrance, there are a collection of information boards, a small hut, and a strange, pointy, wooden structure. Trebuchets are structures designed to launch rocks and boulders at buildings, and were generally used prior to the discovery of gunpowder and invention of cannons. If you’ve ever watched Lord of the Rings, you’ll see them in action during the big battle in the third movie!
We spent a short time nosing at the information boards and appreciating the view, when a whistle caught our attention. In the distance, we spotted a leaf green steam train pulling into the village’s train station.
Then we decided it was as good a time as any to enter the castle. I found the climb quite challenging, primarily because I was nearly six months pregnant at the time, but I managed it. Good job too, because the views were magnificent. I feel so lucky that we had great weather too – I can imagine the stones would be quite slippery in the rain.
We spent about half an hour exploring the nooks and crannies of Corfe Castle. The steps and stones inside are generally uneven, so I had to be quite careful where I walked. Due to Covid, the National Trust had implemented a one way system, and for the most part, people followed it. I didn’t feel unsafe at any point though – the castle is almost entirely an outdoor maze. I’m still not convinced we saw it all.
What I did think was quite incredible is that a single wall absolutely towers over you when inside the castle. You can see it clearly in the image below. Looking up at it made me feel a little nauseous. I had images of it cracking and crumbling down onto us, but I’m sure it’s been deemed perfectly safe and regularly checked.
The constant walking up and down steps started to make my thighs burn. I had to call it quits and go back down to the grassy hills. It wasn’t a problem though: we could sit down and have a snack in the sun.
The visit to Corfe Castle was one of the highlights of our Dorset holiday. Don’t be put off by the height or the steps. It might look tough, but even a pregnant woman can do it!