William the Conqueror meets Thomas the Tank Engine

Corfe CastleWhat a lovely way to say goodbye to Dorset, travelling on the Swanage Railway to Corfe Castle. Astonishingly, we’ve never visited this part of England before but we’ve fallen in love with this beautiful county. We’ve walked some of the South West Coast, Path (at 630 miles, the longest national trail in the UK) and cycled around the quiet lanes and thatched villages. We’ve never been far from the sea and my only frustration is that my photography skills aren’t good enough to do the views justice.

The Swanage Railway is a great way to approach Corfe Castle and its village. It’s run by volunteers, who rescued the Swanage to Wareham line after its closure in 1972 and since then have lovingly and painstakingly restored it to its former glory. We left Gertie at the park and ride at Norden station, and boarded a carriage originally in use in the 1950’s. I don’t know why this was so pleasing, but it was.

The castle is owned and managed by the National Trust, so there are the obligatory idiot-proof information boards, tea room, medieval dressing up booth etc, but once you get past these, the ruins of William the Conqueror’s iconic castle are impressive and strangely atmospheric. It dates back to the 11th century and commands a gap in the Purbeck Hills on the route between Wareham and Swanage.

Corfe village

Apparently, the name Corfe derives from the Old English ceorfan, meaning ‘a cutting’, referring to the gap. From the top (a pretty steep climb on a very hot day) the views are stunning; rolling hills and a glimpse of the sea in the distance.

So, a journey back through the history of this place, both distant and comparatively recent.  What a fascinating country England is.