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Charming, packed with history, and surrounded by beautiful countryside
None come to mind... except that it's too far from London to visit often!
In a nutshell
I'd take the village without the tourists. -Signed: a tourist ;-)
Although we only stayed two evenings in Corfe, we managed to visit three of the four pubs in the village, so I thought it would be helpful to give our impressions of each:
The Greyhound: an attractive old building on the east side of the square. We had a drink here before dinner on the first evening, and found it a friendly place, evidently popular with locals and tourists alike. The one downside to us was its slightly odd shape – there are two rooms at either end, one with a couple of table for drinkers, the other with several closely placed tables for diners. Between these a narrow area runs in front of the bar, with more tables on one side. We were seated here, and were put off having dinner here by the feeling of being in a corridor, and somewhat in the way of other customers waiting to get served at the bar. But on reflection, and after our meal at the Bankes Arms (see below and Restaurant tip) I think now we should probably have given this a try!
The Bankes Arms: another attractive old building, this time on the south side of the square and literally a stone’s throw from the Greyhound. We had dinner here, choosing it over the Greyhound because it felt more spacious and had a bigger menu. I’ve covered my impressions of the meal elsewhere, but for drinking I think this would be an OK choice if you want somewhere a little quieter, though it seemed to be frequented more by tourists than locals, which probably tells you something. I’ve seen reviews on Trip Advisor that talk of the unfriendliness of the landlord, but we found him pleasant enough, and the Ringwood ale was a good choice to wash down our meal.
The Fox: on West Street claims to be the oldest pub in the village, but is a less quaint building than either of the others we visited. It is narrow and long in shape, with a bar midway between back and front rooms, and was the quietest of the three, though that may be because we came here towards the end of the evening. There were fewer beers on tap, and the décor was a little tired, but the barman and the resident cat were friendly. Near the back there is a glass-covered hole in the floor which looks down into the old well which was discovered during restoration work a few years back, while the stone fireplace apparently dates from the 14th century.
Dress Code: These are all pretty casual places so no need to dress up
Written Jul 6, 2008
When walking around the village, have a close look at the roofs of the older houses. They are made out of slabs of stone, mostly at least 4 centimetres deep. Together with the thick stone walls they give these houses a great sense of strength and antiquity. Indeed, some of the stones in these walls were taken from the ruins of the medieval castle following its destruction by the Parliamentarians, so they are even older than the cottages themselves.
This photo, taken by Chris, shows some of the old houses in West Street. The recess around the white door on the right gives some indication of the thickness of the walls, and the stone roofing slabs can be seen above the gable windows of the house next door.
Written Jul 6, 2008
Apart from the main A351, many of the roads around Corfe are narrow and winding, so please take care while driving. You may meet cars coming towards you round any bend, and it’s hard to see them coming from any distance as many roads are lined with high banks and even higher hedges. On the smallest roads, e.g. on the military ranges, either you or the on-coming driver will often have to back up to a suitable passing place, so a degree of courtesy is called for. It’s hard too for the driver to really appreciate the scenery (when it can be seen over the same high hedges, that is), but don’t worry – there are often parking places where you can stop and admire the views, such as here on Creech Hill near Tyneham.
Updated Jul 6, 2008
Luggage and bags: Luggage with wheels is always a good idea, wherever you are travelling.
Clothing/Shoes/Weather Gear: Whether snowy/wet/sunny/warm or cold weather, layer your clothing.
Wear thermal underwear (these are easily bought at the local clothing shops), with warm leggings and a top under a toasty jacket for the cold. I have my trusty grey duffle coat, plus a white snow jacket for this type of weather, and they are a godsend!
Wear flat shoes that have a good grip, as when it is snowing, and afterwards, when it is sludge, it's really difficult to walk and keep your balance!
Always remember to bring a cap/hat that covers your head and neck for when it gets hot, as well as sunglasses.
Toiletries and Medical Supplies: Sunscreen (Factor 35 is the minimum factor I use, no matter what the weather is), headache tablets and usual little things like some plasters for blisters, cotton wool, germolene etc.
Photo Equipment: Your camera, with charger, and a EUROPEAN plug extension.
Miscellaneous: Have a map of the area handy, plus a local bird, flower and tree book. For this you also need a pair of good quality binoculars
Written Jun 10, 2007
The best possible way to see this little village is to walk it.
It is not a big village, and is easily walkable, no matter what your level of fitness is!
Even the walk up the hill to the castle ruins, although steep in places, is relatively easy to do.
My favourite time to walk is in the early morning and at dusk, and even though I never walked here at that time, I would think, with this imposing castle overlooking me, it would add a certain moodiness and magic to the air at that time.
Equipment: All you need are some comfy trainers and a bottle of water, and off you go :)
Written May 28, 2007