Corfe Castle and Grange Arch walk
National Trust, Castle View, Corfe Castle, Wareham BH20 5DRRoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
A seven mile walk circular walk in the Purbeck Hills, Dorset. Enjoy views of Corfe Castle and visit Grange Arch, an 18th-century folly, as well as two nature reserves.
- Bus stop
Start: Castle View Visitor Centre, Corfe Castle, grid ref 959825
Carefully cross the main road and go through the gate opposite, signposted for Village Centre and Castle. Keep straight ahead, and at a set of gates, turn right through the gate signposted ‘Furzebrook and Wareham’. Climb the steep hill to the left using the wooden steps. At the top of the steps, pause and look behind you for wonderful views of Corfe Castle.
The destruction wrought by Parliamentary forces in the English Civil War is obvious as you look down on Corfe Castle from West Hill. The Norman castle was one of the last Royalist strongholds in southern England when it fell in 1645. Its owner, Lady Mary Bankes, had become a focus of resistance to the Roundheads and later that year Parliament ordered the castle to be slighted - partially demolished using gunpowder - so the former royal fortress could never again pose a threat.
Bear left, ignoring the gate at the top, and follow the path along the contours of the hill. Head for the wooden kissing gate on the other side of the small valley. Go through the gate and follow the path along the ridge, passing through a metal kissing gate. Go through two more gates, pass a memorial to Mary Baxter MBE, and go through another gate onto a single track road.
Continue straight on along the road for about 50 yards to the second footpath, and go through a gate signposted Ridgeway Hill (Dorset Wildlife Trust). Follow the path uphill for about half a mile until you reach a fence. Go through a gate on your left and follow a path signposted for Grange Arch, which will appear on your right after passing through a metal gate, and after three quarters of a mile. After enjoying the views from the arch, retrace your steps to the gate.
Grange Arch was built in the 18th century by the owner of nearby Creech Grange at a time when similar 'follies' were all the rage among the landed gentry. Today it is a grade II listed building and is looked after by the National Trust. Also known as Creech Folly, it takes the form of a triple arch surmounted by battlements.
Turn left and follow the path down the hill, past the Jack Baiss memorial stone seat. Turn right at a large fence post with waymarkers on it, and walk down the bottom of the valley to the road. Cross a stile onto the road and turn left. Pass quarries on your left and a war memorial to the Creech Barrow Seven on your right. At the next junction go straight on, passing East Creech Caravan Park on your left. As the road bends left, take the bridle path on your right signposted for Norden and Corfe.
Stonehill Down is looked after by Dorset Wildlife Trust and is a good example of chalk downland. In early summer look out for orchids including the common spotted (pictured), the early purple and bee orchids. Lulworth skipper and Adonis blue butterflies may also be seen.
Follow the bridle path straight through the woods. At the stone way marker turn right towards Norden and Corfe, and cross two foot bridges, continuing on through the woods. Turn right through a kissing gate and follow the footpath towards the hill past a campsite. Go through three kissing gates then turn left along a path that follows the contours of the hill. Look out for an oak tree which forms a right angle over the path. At the end of the wood, go through a kissing gate and bear left to go through another gate, and cross the field to your starting point.
End: Castle View Visitor Centre, Corfe Castle, grid ref 959825
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 7 miles (11km)
- Time: 3 hours
- OS Map: Explorer OL 15
Some steep sections and areas which may become boggy after rain. A mixture of grassy upland paths, tracks and paved country lanes. Dogs welcome under close control. Please take particular care in the nature reserves. Please clear up after your dogs and leave no litter.
- How to get here:
By bike: Purbeck Cycleway passes through Corfe (starts and finishes in Wareham)
By bus: Wilts and Dorset 40, Poole to Swanage (passing Wareham station)
By train: Wareham, 4.5 miles (7.2km). Corfe Castle station (Swanage Steam Railway) is a few minutes’ walk away
By car: A351, Wareham to Swanage, runs through Corfe Castle village. Pay and display parking (NT members free) at Castle View. Norden park and ride, and West Street in the village (pay and display), neither National Trust
- Parking (National Trust - free to members) toilets, cafe and shop at Castle View.
- Food and accommodation in the village of Corfe Castle (one mile).
- Telephone: 01929 450002
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/purbeck-countryside/