You can buy crab lines and bait cheaply in several places in the town. This is a great way to entertain the kids (or my grown-up kids).
The photo shows the stone jetty near the pier-end of the bay but there are a number of suitable places.
From Swanage, you can take a stream train to Norden (north of Corfe Castle) which has a large park & ride car park. The train also stops at Herston Halt (on request), Harman's Cross and Corfe Castle. Maybe one time the line will be extended to Wareham which will connect you to the main railway network then. From what I understood some first steam services between Swanage and Wareham already took place in 2009.
The railway exists since 1885 but was closed in 1972 and the tracks were removed. Later the line was rebuild step by step by a group of enthusiasts. There's a Railway Museum in the village Corfe Castle where you can learn more about the history of the railway and also see railway artefacts.
The train operates daily from April to October and usually on week-ends otherwise. Also there are special events. Please check their website for the detailed timetable.
The return fare from Norden to Swange is 9,- £ for adults and 7,- £ for children
Corfe Castle is an picturesque ruined castle in the village of the same name. The castle looks already great from the car park below and I was impressed by the huge castle grounds and the many remains of the castle.
The castle was founded in the 11th century by William the Conqueror and was a royal fortress for several hundreds of years. In 1646 during the Civil War the castle was captured by Oliver Cromwell and then was destroyed. So the ruins you see today are the results of the destructions by the Parliamentarians forces. Still there is enough that is left and all these leaning towers and walls look impressive.
At the entrance we got a sheet with information on the castle and its history in German. There are also some guided tours but we were to late, however while visiting the castle we met a guide who was happy to try his German knowledge and gave us some more information.
There's a National Trust car park with visitors centre. It's pay & display and was 2 £/ 2 hours, 3 £/ 3 hours, max 4 £/ 4 hours. 50% of this was refunded when we bought the castle ticket. From that car park it's a 10 minutes walk up to the castle.
Admission: adults 5,36 £, children 2,68 £
Open daily from 10:00 to 16:00 (17:00 in March/Oct, 18:00 Apr - Sept)
The area north of Swanage is formed of chalk, and the steep white cliffs that you can see from Swanage look really impressive. Ballard Point is the headland close Swanage, and a bit further there's Old Harry Rocks, some bright white pillars in the sea. Unfortunately it was pretty dizzy when we were Swanage, but even then it looked nice. I would have loved to walk to the rocks there, but the time did not permit this, it's a pity we only stayed one night!
The Wellington Clock Tower originally was located in London, next to the London Bridge. It was built in 1854 as memorial to the Duke of Wellingtan. In 1867 it was moved to Swanage in 1867. Obviously it was blocking the traffic and was not needed anymore. Also stone was shipped from Swanage to London and the boats needed some load on the return trip, so they could use some "ballast" - which were some relicts from London in this case.
Peveril Point is a rocky reef at the southern end of Swanage bay, with a coastguard hut. From there you have nice views on Swanage Bay and further north to Bournemouth. To the south, you can see the top of Durlston castle in the Durlston Country Park.
You can walk there along the seafront and the coastal path, however parts of this are flooded at high tide. Another possibility is to walk up the path through Prince Albert Gardens and then along the road.
Smanage has a nice promenade & beach and we enjoyed the views over the Swanage Bay towards the white cliffs in the north and Peveril Point to the south. On our way back it was high tide and it was funny to see the waves splashing on the promenade sometimes!
South of the beach is an old Victorian Pier that was built in 1896. The pier originally was used for paddle steamers to transport the local Purbeck Stone to Poole and London. Now you take boat trips from here, and also it's said to be one of the best diving locations in the UK; so it's no surprise that there also is a diving club.
You reach Swanage via the A351 from Wareham, or via Bournemouth and Studland using the Sandbanks Ferry. There are several car parks.
The Pier in Swanage is run by a registered charity in order to fund the upkeep of this lovely, historical structure.
For less than the price of an evening meal for two you can purchase a brass plate that will be fastened to the decking of the pier forever! For an additional, modest sum, you can also buy a framed certificate with a photo of your own plate!
See www.pierfriends.com for more details.
Just off Poole Harbour is Brownsea Island, founder of the scout movement & where anyone who works for the John Lewis partnership (Waitrose etc) can go for a holiday at the castle. The National Trust owns Brownsea & it cost me £7.00 from Swanage pier, & £4.20 landing fee’s. I travelled on the Dorset Bella which took about 30 minutes, you can get fine views of Poole harbour supposed to be one of the biggest natural harbours in the UK. On entering reception the staff are very friendly & you have a map given to you, you can also go on a guided walk.
On the island are chicken, geese & red squirrels, there’s also a hide that has a hidden camera. There’s a farm with different tractors on display & the scout grounds, the café is nice with outdoor seating & there’s benches facing the open waters where you can watch the boats (including the Condor ferry going to Jersey) sailing by.
The place is wheelchair friendly although some of the tracks are uneven in places. There’s a shop near the café & you can bring a picnic. The last ferry from the island is 5.15 to Bournemouth, althrough please visit http://www.brownseaislandferries.com/ for information about the ferries.
Nestled in the isles of the Purbecks is the village of Corfe just up the road from the railway station. Most of the buildings look like their made out of sandstone. This is a good place to spend an afternoon, situated on the A351 halfway between Wareham & Swanage. There’s a little museum that is free to enter although they would like a donation, such artefacts include the old school bell, a 18th century policeman’s hat and gasmasks from the war.
There’s lot’s of gift shops, pubs & places to eat, one being the National Trust t-rooms, which has a garden facing the castle. They provide a generous pot of tea & many other things, although don’t forget the cream tea.
They charge £5 to get into the castle, unless your a National Trust member then it's free.
Not to be missed, for £5.50 you can hop on a train to the village of Corf. When the train pulls in, it unhooks & goes up the track to reverse back down to the other end; I found this a bit alarming & thought ‘should he be going backwards like that at that speed?’ On board a lady comes round & clips your ticket, you can also see 1960’s diesels cruising up & down. By the railway is a picnic area where you can sit & watch the trains pull up & down all day, there’s also a shop.
At Corf they have old-fashioned waiting rooms with the fireplaces & leather suitcases on trolleys. Sometimes there might be a charity stall on the platform or special events going on, it’s usually advertised on boards. They will also take wheelchairs, just ask the guard for a yellow ramp.
There’s a café in a train carriage by the side line where the staff hangout. I always get a bit worried in case the steam trains let off the safety valves, this can be loud & frightening. It’s good that they are keeping something like this going.
Once you have climbed the hill at the end of Swanage Bay (and caught your breath!) you can follow the cliff edges around the headland for a splendid view of Sir harry's Rocks.
There is so much to see around Swanage, get your comfy shoes on and have a walk along the promenade and up the hill all around the area.
What a relaxing thing to do on a weekend!
In the centre of Swanage you can take the steam train that goes to Corfe castle.
Lovely scenery all around, not only for train enthousiasts!