exploring Corfe Castle c

Days out in Swanage – part 1

I mentioned that we had a big first this month, our first family holiday that included the OH. We headed to Swanage in Dorset for a few days away, and here’s some of the days out in Swanage we did.

Not for want of trying to go on family holidays, but it finally happened and it went quite well.  I was worried that because I’m used to doing everything with N on my own, that get his dad interfering and doing his thing, was going to clash.  But we only had one argument about the parking. Taking a Range Rover rather than my Qashqai was not the best decision of the OH’s – we always go away in his/the in laws car, but having a small dirt lane to the cottage to park up and have to reverse out of was always going to be a bit of a nightmare.  All in all though, not a bad attempt at a first family holiday together.

After asking around for some recommendations we I decided on Swanage or Weymouth.  Unfortunately booking a week in advance, even some way out of season, proves quite difficult when you want a family room or adjoining rooms in a hotel or b&b, or a cottage that’s near enough to the main action, with wifi and parking in these places.  But I managed to find a bargain self-catering cottage in Swanage within walking distance of the sea front, with all the bits we wanted.

Being a bit of a ‘must cram lots in, see everything and anything’ type of holiday goer, especially in the UK, I’d noted a few places of interest and on arriving I was pleased to see an overflowing pile of local places to see leaflets.  The OH and N just wanted to chill out so we fell into a routine of doing things in the morning, then coming back for a relax in front of the tv, and then heading back out for food in the early evening.

Now there’s not a lot going on in Swanage in October.  We’d just missed the blues festival which was a shame as you can’t go wrong with live music, but we found plenty to do without going far.  I’ve got lots of photos so I’m planning to split my posts up to avoid overloading. So here’s part 1 of days out in Swanage we did.

Corfe Castle

Our first trip out was to Corfe Castle.  N and I are big fans of castles, and I was quite surprised when he kept calling Corfe Castle, the ‘broken castle’.  Obviously it is in ruins but he’s been to Kenilworth which is also ruins, and he didn’t call that the same.

corfe castle ruins c

N didn’t look that impressed as we approached the National Trust property.  I was pleased that I could make use of my membership again, although the OH had to pay.  But once we were inside and the man at the entrance told him about the quest to find the shields, he was happy to run around and look out for them in order to get his medal.

through the archway c

N loved being with his dad.  They spotted a tractor and farmer working

spotting a tractor at work c

Looked out at the train coming in again…and going out of the station

steam train at swanage c

Then generally just wandered round, looking out for the shields and trying to hide from me.

beautiful castle ruins - corfe castle c
broken corfe castle ruins c

The National Trust shop and café are just outside the castle in the village.  N had spied the café straight away (probably because both he and I focus very much on eating out for a treat when we’re out and about, unlike the OH who’s all about food as fuel), but the OH decided we would go for a wander round the village of Corfe Castle.

snacking outside corfe castle c

It’s a lovely village, although quite busy traffic wise as it’s on the route through to Swanage.  Car parking is quite a way off, so unless you’re disabled where presumably there’d be parking nearer to the centre of the village, it is a bit of a steep walk to the castle before you even enter into the grounds.

We wandered along one of the main streets then decided to go off piste (a favourite of the OH’s, he likes to just see where places lead) and head towards the playground.  The clouds by this stage weren’t looking great, but we managed some play on one of the best village playgrounds I’ve ever seen.  Mostly down to the gym equipment area, which rather than being spread out round a large park you run inbetween like most places where I’ve seen outdoor gym equipment, was all in one space next to the children’s area.  If I had equipment like that in my back garden, maybe I’d be a bit fitter than I am!

Then it was time for lunch.  We opted for a takeaway sandwich lunch from the bakery, and then headed with it, back to the railway station to catch the train back to Swanage.

Swanage Railway

Yes, Swanage and Purbeck area have their own steam railway.  I thought N would love to go on it, and given that the walk from the railway station to Corfe Castle was probably slightly less than the walk from the main car park, we weren’t having to drag him miles out of the way to get there.

swanage railway c

The railway sets off from from Swanage and goes through to Nordon where there’s a park and ride, making it easy to ride the line as you want.  The tickets seem quite steep in price (think it cost us around £30 for the 3 of us and the journey isn’t far), but you can ride all day up and down the track if you want.  We were lucky in that it was only steam engines running that day, sometimes there are diesel engines too.

We didn’t have much time to dawdle and look at everything going on at Swanage station, where there are some old fashioned touches.  N just wanted to get on the train, although then we had to wait for ages as they were having problems during their engineering checks.

The journey was lovely.  Maybe not as comfortable as a modern train (depending on which company you travel with obviously), but a bit more spacious, and like travelling back to a more slow paced time.

swanage railway reading the map c

N loved spotting all the animals and crops in the fields as we went past.  The request stop was a bit of a feature although I’m not sure N understood that people had to say whether they wanted to stop or get on there.

We were on a bit of a quick morning trip out, so didn’t make the most of our tickets.  At each stop there are museums or exhibitions and it would have been nice to have a look at those.  And I spotted lots of unusual items and decor I’d have liked to have taken photos of.  But on the train back we could see the clouds getting darker and darker.

We’d been planning to eat our sandwiches overlooking the beach, but when we emerged from the carriages at Swanage, the heavens opened and we got caught in our first rain on holiday. All N cared about was having his lunch but we did hold him off until we got back to the cottage and dry.

The great thing about staying in the cottage (other than the decor, the all mod cons including faster broadband at home, the 3 floors which meant for good news on my Fitbit*) was that it was really warm without having to turn on the heating or light the woodburner.

Next on our holiday was a geography lesson themed day out, beach wandering and food! Watch out for further posts over the next week.

Check out my days out ideas in Dorset for other places to visit.

Are you from or have you been on holiday to Swanage area?  Where do you you love to visit there?

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  1. Great post – I LOVE the look of that train! Thank you for linking up to #TravelwithKids

  2. Hubby and I went to Corfe and Swanage for the day a couple of years back, it was so very pretty and we’d love to go back with the kids. Thanks for linking up #travelwithkids

  3. What a great day out and I love all the sunny family photos. Looks like you got great luck with the weather too. Sounds like a great place to visit and so many things to see and do and explore. Thank you so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    1. Definitely lucky with the weather. Cloudy, windy, but we only got caught in the rain once as the rest of the time it rained we were inside.

      Thanks for stopping by

  4. Looks like a lovely holiday together. I remember Swanage and Corfe castle as a child and loved it. Calling it ‘broken castle’ is very cute!
    Thanks for linking #LetKidsBeKids

  5. It looks like a great place to visit. It’s cute that your son called it the broken castle. Th etrains look fab, they would be a huge hit with my children. #letkidsbekids

  6. We spend most of our holidays near Swanage, so used to going around with the kids. They also call Corfe Castle the broken castle, I don’t know where they got it from. The train is always exciting but we don’t do it very often because of the cost (although it is good to know it is run by volunteers).

    Looking forward to reading what you did next. Perhaps Old Harry, Dancing Ledge, Lulworth Cove or Durdle Door??

    1. How did I not know there was a place called Dancing Ledge? Would have been perfect for me.

      Can’t say we went to Lulworth. OH never wants to trek round, and there were just too many places I wanted to see.

      Nice to know the ‘broken castle’ is popular with all children.

  7. I’m loving reading about your holiday, you seem to have had such a wonderful time. Your photos of the castle are fab, and I love that N called it the broken castle 🙂 The steam train looks wonderful, my boys would like that too x #LetKidsBeKids

    1. I don’t think you can beat a steam train. Such a relaxing way to travel. It really was a lovely holiday – shows what great places there are to visit at home.

  8. Love Swanage – have very happy memories of spending a week there as a child and have been back a couple of times for a day here and there as an adult. Corfe Castle is a fabulous place to visit and I love the steam railway too. Looks like you had a fun time and love your photos 🙂

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