Durlston Country Park
Situated in the south-east corner of the Isle of Purbeck, a mile south of Swanage, lies Durlston Country Park ~ 320 acres of very special countryside.
The Country Park was established in the 1970s by Dorset County Council, and 30 years of careful management by the Ranger team have resulted in a superb site that everyone can enjoy.
Wildlife and Landscape
Few places in Britain equal Durlston: The bare statistics merely hint at the amazing diversity of wildlife: 33 species of breeding butterfly, over 250 species of bird recorded, 500 wildflowers, 500 moths and thousands of other invertebrates.
Durlston’s special qualities stem from a combination of geography, geology, history and careful management which has created a mosaic of nationally important wildlife habitats: sea-cliffs, downs, ancient meadows, hedgerows, woodland, and dry-stone walls each with their characteristic plants and animals.
Wildlife apart, there are plenty of other things to see: The history of Durlston can be detected in the now dry, glacial river valley, the ancient Saxon field systems, two types of quarry the inland Purbeck Stone Quarr, and the Portland limestone cliff quarry known as Tilly Whim Caves.
High on the ridge remain the footings of a Napoleonic telegraph station, and Anvil Point Lighthouse adds further interest to a visit.
The eminent Victorian, George Burt, left a legacy of fascinating artefacts. These include the ‘Great Globe’ 40 tons of Portland limestone, cast-iron bollards from the City, St Martin’s and other parts of London, and Durlston Castle itself all linked by scenic cliff-top paths with Victorian panels quoting poetry and facts of interest.
Restored in 2011 to become a spectacular new facility for visitors to Durlston and the Jurassic Coast.
Durlston Castle is an extraordinary Victorian building, which with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and many others, took 8 years to transform, to provide a unique and beautiful facility for visitors to Durlston and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.
The Castle is now the hub of the activities at Durlston. This restored building, completed in November 2011 is a must for all, not just for the amazing restoration that has taken place, but it is also the Visitor Centre, offering a wide range of exciting interactive displays and exhibitions. Also within the building is the seventhwave cafe and restaurant, a shop, Gallery with different exhibitions every month, plus spectacular views from the Belvedere and roof terraces.
Wandering around the Castle you will also come across artwork including the Timeline (4 billion years of earths history), Diversity (the species of Durlston engraved on glass) and the Walk of Words (200 sponsored engraved Purbeck limestone blocks).
Despite being on four levels the Castle is easily accessible for all, with lifts and gentle ramps for those with less mobility. We also have an intercom system and a Tramper electric buggy to help you around the site.
A Ranger is always on hand to help you get the most of your visit.
The Castle is open every day (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day) between:
10.00am – 5.00pm (1st April – 1st November)
10.00am – 4.00pm (1st November – 31st March)
Parts of the Castle are occasionally closed when weddings or functions are taking place.