Our Spring break: Purbeck, Dorset with kids!
One of our favourite places to bring our kids for a break in the UK is Dorset. This lovely southern county is home to the Jurassic coast, where the fossils of dinosaurs are being discovered even today. We have family who live near the village of Wareham in Purbeck and often go down to visit when we have a few days spare. Purbeck is one of those places you can keep coming back to and not get bored; for the girls it’s turning into one of those lovely childhood traditions that I hope they remember happily when they’re older. Here are 5 things that we do with the kids when we come to Purbeck in Dorset, every time:
- Visit Swanage
Swanage is a proper old-school English seaside town. In the Winter it is practically abandoned and the streets glisten constantly with drizzle as if they’ve been varnished. In the Spring and Summer it’s a buzzing hub of happy people, locals and tourists, scoffing scones at the cafes on the sea front or fighting seagulls off their chips. We usually park on the pier at the far end of the town and have a walk along it, chatting to the fishermen dipping their lines in the water underneath. Often we picnic here too, the kids with their legs dangling over the side; it saves sand getting into the sandwiches and is a lovely spot to just watch the world go by. We also bring buckets and spades so we can head down to the sand after our picnic, and the kids spend ages making sand angels, burying their toys and crying when they can’t find them again.
2. Explore Durlston Castle
Ahh, we love this place! It’s actually called Durlston Country Park and it has some beautiful walks through wild garlic filled woods and along the coastline. We always go inside and check out the nature exhibits in the entrance hall. They have a nest cam live on screen, so you can see mama birds bringing food for their chicks in real time! There are also those creepy boxes where you have to put your hand in and guess what’s inside, like a deer skull or chunk of driftwood or something. They usually have events on for kids; sometimes there is a large sandpit with ‘dinosaur bones’ buried for the kids to unearth, or a screening of an interesting nature film in the little cinema room. There’s a cafe with a fab view and on the top floor is a playroom with panoramic view of the ocean.
3. Go to Corfe Castle
This tumble-down ruin is an ancient treasure and is maintained and run by the National Trust. Visitors can fuel up on scones in the cafe by the entrance before hiking all the way to the top of the ruins. There is a kids’ trail where children can answer questions dotted around the buildings to win a medal or wristband and in the Summer holidays there are re-enactments of battles, actors doing shows about medieval life and even bird of prey displays! We particularly loved the festival a couple of Summers ago where the kids got to make mosaics out of clay tiles, and watch carpenters make weapons out of wood and bone. Whilst you are in Corfe visit the adorable miniature village and games lawn at Corfe Castle Model Village; our kids play in there for hours and the Dorset Apple Cake is to die for!
4. Eat at The Salt Pig
Be still, my beating cholesterol-loving heart. The Salt Pig in Wareham is the most amazing little eatery; all of the produce is from within a few miles so it is always in season and uber-fresh. They do super high quality versions of kids’ picnic favourites like sausage rolls and scotch eggs, and in the evening open as a homely restaurant for which the menu changes every week. For Mothers’ Day this year I took my Mum to have a 10-course tasting menu at a new event run by The Salt Pig and it was some of the best food I’ve had in my life! Located on Wareham High Street, you have to check it out if you are in the area.
5. Visit the rural villages and walk in the countryside
Dorset, and indeed England, is full of old-worldly country charm. We love driving through villages of stone cottages and ramshackle pubs and often stop to admire the views from the crest of a hill. The Scott Arms pub in the tiny village of Kingston has one of the best views around; the scenery from the beer garden is so good that the pub’s tagline is “Drink in the view”! The beer garden is huge so it is a great option for parents to chill with a drink whilst the kids stretch their legs.
Have you been to the Isle of Purbeck, or elsewhere in Dorset? Where are your favourite places to visit?
Travel journalists, home educating our lovely brood of 3 girls. Planning a year-long RTW trip late Summer 2017.