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Corfe Common History Walk


This gentle short walk explores Corfe Common, a sandstone ridge south of the picturesque village of Corfe Castle. Look out for signs of the human activity that shaped this interesting archaeological landscape over thousands of years, and enjoy the wide range of wildlife which now makes its home here.

A family walking on Corfe Common with the castle in the background
The countryside around Corfe Castle is full of history National Trust


A route map of the Corfe Common history walk
Ordnance Survey


Corfe Castle ticket office


From the Corfe Castle ticket office, walk along West Street, once the main street through the village. It was known as Duck Street due to the number of animals driven along it onto the common and the mess they left behind.

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Tumble-down walls at Corfe Castle, Dorset
The castle's tumble-down appearance is a result of destruction during the English Civil War NTPL/David Levenson


Turn right towards West Street car park. At the end of the car park turn right again through a kissing gate. Once through the gate, turn left and follow a path along the edge of the field. This is the Halves or Haws, communal land, once used for strip and furrow farming. Families would each have had a strip on which to grow their own food, much like allotments.


Go through the stone kissing gate and stop at Copper Bridge. Built in the 1800s, this small humped back bridge used to be on the main road to Church Knowle. Animals would have walked through the ford at the side of the bridge.


Turn left up the slope (almost going back on yourself) and follow the hedge. When you get to the top of the slope bear right at the cattle grid to join the unclassified road.


Follow the road down the dip and up the other side. At the top, leave the road and follow the path left to the top of the ridge. In the 18th century, smugglers carried contraband such as fine French brandy and ladies' silk gloves across the common on their way from the Purbeck coast to London. Some villagers still have common rights and graze their cows or horses on the common for an annual fee. Each year a Hayward (someone who, in the Middle Ages, oversaw the harvesting of crops) is appointed to collect the fee and to make sure the animals are well cared for.

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A view of Corfe Common
Corfe Common is the largest area of common land in Dorset National Trust/Will Wilkinson


Along the ridge you'll find a series of low humps. These are the remains of 4,000 year old Bronze Age burial mounds. From here you can enjoy views of the Castle to the north and the village of Kingston to the south.


Turn left at the large, low burial mound at the end of the ridge and make your way to the bottom of the slope walking down the hollow ways towards the lower common. They are all that remain of old tracks which led from the quarries to Corfe Castle. Over time, carts laden with limestone wore away the track and it became a deep muddy gully. When it became impassable they just moved to the side and started a new track.


Follow the path towards the gate at the top corner of the common, along the path between the houses and onto Middle Halves. Signposts then mark the way back to Corfe Castle.

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The Square in Corfe Castle village
The same Purbeck stone that Corfe Castle is built of was used for many houses in the village National Trust/Martin Franks


Corfe Castle ticket office

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Corfe Common History Walk


Circular walk mostly on the level. There are a few slopes, gates and boardwalks. Some areas can be muddy after wet weather so sensible footwear is advised. Please keep to footpaths to avoid eroding this beautiful landscape.

Corfe Common History Walk

Contact us

  • Telephone: 01929 481294
Corfe Common History Walk

How to get here

Corfe Castle, nr Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ
By train
Wareham, 4.5 miles (7.2km). Corfe Castle station (Swanage Steam Railway) is a few minutes’ walk away
By road

A351, Wareham to Swanage, runs through Corfe Castle village. Pay and display parking (NT members free) at Castle View, off A351. Norden park and ride, and West Street in the village (pay and display), neither National Trust

By foot

Purbeck Way runs from Wareham to Corfe Castle

By bus
Wiltshire and Dorset 40, Poole to Swanage (passing Wareham station)
By bicycle
Purbeck Cycleway passes through Corfe (starts and finishes in Wareham)
Corfe Common History Walk

Facilities and access

  • National Trust car park, toilets and cafe at Castle View
  • National Trust tea rooms and shop at The Square, Corfe Castle
  • Accommodation, food and drink available in Corfe Castle village