Skip to content
View from field of Corfe Castle ruins on hilltop with village below
View of the castle from Corfe Common | © National Trust Images/Jon Bish

Corfe Common history walk

This moderate 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 see the wide range of wildlife which now makes its home here.

Protecting Corfe Common

Please keep to footpaths to avoid eroding this beautiful landscape.

Total steps: 8

Total steps: 8

Start point

Corfe Castle ticket office, grid ref: SY960821

Step 1

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.

Corfe Castle seen from the Purbeck Ridgeway
There are great views of Corfe Castle throughout the trail | © National Trust/Will Wilkinson

Step 2

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.

Step 3

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

Step 4

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.

Step 5

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.

Step 6

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.

Step 7

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.

Step 8

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.

View of empty village street with Corfe Castle ruins on hill behind row of stone cottages
Corfe village, Dorset | © National Trust Images/Richard Bradshaw

End point

Corfe Castle ticket office, grid ref: SY960821

Trail map

Corfe Common history walk, Dorset map
Corfe Common history walk, Dorset | © Crown copyright and database rights 2014 Ordnance Survey

You made it

Share your experience

More near here

View from the Purbeck Ridge path towards Corfe Castle

The Purbeck Ridgeway - Corfe Castle to the coast 

This walk along the roof of Purbeck takes in Corfe Castle and Old Harry with the option to return by steam train on the Swanage Railway (when operating).

DistanceMiles: 8.7 (km: 13.92) to miles: 9.5 (km: 15.2)

Get in touch

The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5EZ

Our partners

Cotswold Outdoor

We’ve partnered with Cotswold Outdoor to help everyone make the most of their time outdoors in the places we care for.

Visit website 

You might also be interested in

A group of hikers exploring a hilly landscape on a sunny winters day.


Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.

A group of people of all ages having a tour of castle ruins

Things to see and do at Corfe Castle 

Corfe Castle offers plenty to see and do, including walks around the ruins, a audio trail and wildlife spotting in the surrounding hills. Find out more.

Outside the tea-room at Corfe Castle, Dorset in summer

Eating and shopping at Corfe Castle 

Situated in an 18th century former cottage, the Tea-room at Corfe Castle serves a delicious menu of hot and cold food, drinks, cakes and bakes. Afterwards, stop off at the Shop to discover beautiful collections of homewares, gifts and locally made ranges to take home with you. The second-hand book shop located in Castle View is also filled with literary treasures.

A group of people in a hiking group are being guided on a hike by rangers at Marsden Moor, West Yorkshire

Cotswold Outdoor: our exclusive walking partner 

Find out more about the National Trust’s ongoing partnership with Cotswold Outdoor as our exclusive walking partner.

An aerial view of an adult and baby walking a dog along a path at Baggy Point, Devon

Staying safe at National Trust places 

The special places in National Trust care sometimes come with a few risks for visitors, be it coastline or countryside. Find out how to keep safe throughout your visits.

A visitor carrying a backpack and walking along a footpath at Divis and the Black Mountain with stone walls either side, the countryside visible in the background.

Follow the Countryside Code 

Help to look after National Trust places by observing a few simple guidelines during your visit and following the Countryside Code.

Looking over a drystone wall and across a grassy clifftop, two people look out to sea from behind a wooden fence

Walking in Dorset 

From strolls along the coastline by the sea to spectacular views over three counties at the top of Hambledon Hill, these are some of the best walks in Dorset this winter season.