I am proud to say that I am a bit of an expert when it comes to taking the kids on fun days out in Dorset, but watching a program the other night featuring Richard (I don’t believe it) Wilson exploring my county I discovered somewhere we haven’t heard off – Durlston Country Park.
We visit Swanage on a regular basis, but I have to admit we have never seen what was beyond as we normally head back out through the town to Corfe Castle, but this time I dragged Charliemoos and Olive along and we drove past the beautiful beach with all its new beach huts gleaming in the sunlight and turned left instead of right. Durlston Country Park is situated in the south-east corner of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset, a mile south of Swanage and features 280 acres of very special countryside that is ripe for exploring.
There was plenty of parking and costing £3 per day (£2.50 on weekdays) it didn’t break the bank as entry to the park is free. We strolled down an amazing walkway with fossils and the Jurassic history carved into Portland Stone, all around the site. For any dinosaur / history loving person this is amazing feature and whilst the kids didn’t take it all in, the older ones did enjoy reading and then sharing what they had learned at school.
At the end of the path is Durlston Castle which was restored in 2011 to become a spectacular new facility for visitors to Durlston and the Jurassic Coast. Inside was a photographic display of all the wildlife that can be found at Durlston, child friendly interactive displays teaching children all about the history of the Jurassic coast alongside a cafe with stunning views out to sea and a small gift shop. There was the most gorgeous antique spiral staircase to climb too, leading to a spectacular view over towards Swanage and Old Harry’s rock.
Once the kids had finished taking everything in, we headed back outside in search of the Great Globe. This is where I realised my mistake of taking Sebastian in his buggy rather than his back carrier as there are steps everywhere, however we made the best of it and half carried / half bumped the buggy down.
The Great Globe is one of the largest stone spheres in the world and is constructed of Portland stone. It weighs about 40 tonnes and is 3 metres (10 ft) in diameter and is truly spectacular! The small people much prefered rolling done the huge grassy hill though!!
Isaac then announced that he wanted to find Durlston Lighthouse, which is situated on Anvil Point so we set off along the coastal path, which was slightly more buggy friendly, although I did need help over a particularly rocky part.
Along the way we found the Tilly Whim caves, which sadly have been closed to the public for health and safety reasons, a fun hide to play in – we didn’t spot any Dolphins in the bay and lots of hills to climb and jump off.
Finally we found the Lighthouse and although the kids wanted to walk closer to it, the path was steep and very unsuitable for a buggy. I am not sure that Eliza and Olive would have made it either, so we will return when we have more hands to help! We decided to head back to the castle, along another track, stopping at a bench to have a picnic lunch.
Durlston Country Park is definitely somewhere we will head back to again, this time with more appropriate equipment. They run lots of activities throughout the year and you can hire Woodland Explorer Rucksacks from the Castle that are jam-packed with fun activities along the Woodland Trail.