On the Isle of Purbeck stands the magnificent hilltop ruins of Corfe Castle.

The first sightings of the towering ruins never fail to impress. Every time we visit this ruined castle, it is awe-inspiring.

Built of moody grey stone, towering high on a conical mound and reached across a stone bridge. A picture-perfect castle!


The castle was first built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror.

Later kings, including Henry I, John and Henry III put their own stamp on the place.

By the 13th century the castle was being used as a prison and royal residence and in 1635 ownership of the castle passed to the Bankes family.

During the Civil War the castle, as a Royalist stronghold, withstood a Cromwellian siege for six weeks but eventually Lady Bankes was betrayed by one of her own men.

As a result, the castle was taken by the Parliamentarian troops in 1646. Lady Bankes was forced to surrender the castle.

However, because she showed such courage, she was allowed to keep the keys of the castle, which are now held at Kingston Lacy near Wimborne Minster.

Later in that year the castle was blown up by order of the House of Commons so that it could never stand as a Royalist stronghold.

After the demolition with gunpowder much of the skeleton of the castle survived in the ruined state in which it remains today.


The site is managed by the National Trust and due to its evocative history and stunning romantic setting within the Dorset AONB, the castle is a highly popular tourist attraction.

You can still clamber round its towers and ramparts, which command superb views over the surrounding Dorset countryside.

It is best to visit Corfe Castle early in the morning or late in the afternoon.

Note: The beautiful birds eye photos used for this post are taken by Andrew P.M. Wright, official photographer and press officer of the Swanage Railway. He was kind enough to allow us to use his photos.


After visiting the ruined castle, start with an easy gentle short 1,5 mile walk and explore Corfe Common, a sandstone ridge south of the picturesque village of Corfe Castle.

We explored the Commoners Way. A stunning 5,5-mile circular walk which starts and finishes in Kingston, near Corfe Castle.

Take in the beautiful views and stop for lunch at Corfe Castle village half-way along the route.

Visit the castle ruins and then make your way back to Kingston.

Images by Andrew P.M. Wright | Cool Places Britain

If you like a challenge, then the Purbeck Ridgeway walk will take you from Corfe Castle to the coast.

This 9,5-mile linear walk will take you across the ridge towards Old Harry Rocks.

Good views of Poole Harbour and Studland to the left, the Isle of Wight ahead and Swanage to the right.

From Old Harry Rocks continue ahead along Ballard Down.

Walk along the beach at Swanage and return to Corfe by bus or on the Swanage Railway.

Cool Places to Explore: Old Harry Rocks | Studland & Godlingston Heath Nature Reserve | Hartland Moor Nature Reserve | RSPB Arne.