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The Purbeck Way

Views of Corfe Castle from the Purbeck Way
Bluebell woods near Norden Farm

The Purbeck Way is a spectacular walk within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Some of the highlights along the route include visiting the delightful town of Wareham surrounded by the Saxon Wareham Walls. Then the landscape and its wildlife completely changes across Stoborough Heath and Creech Heath to Corfe Castle - find out about the village's long and eventful history dating back well before the castle itself. Enjoy the magnificent views from the chalk ridge of Ballard Down across Poole Harbour on your way to Old Harry or Swanage.

Part of the journey includes walking by the River Frome, linking with the Frome Valley Trail. You might be lucky enough to see a kingfisher or beautiful demoiselle damselfly along the river bank.

View the start of the walk on street view

The Purbeck Way

Start point:Wareham Quay
Postcode: BH20 4LP or grid ref: SY 923 872
End point:

Ballard Down - grid reference: SZ 049 815

or

Chapman's Pool - grid reference: SY 963 778

Distance:

The route travels from Wareham to Corfe Castle, then eastwards to Ballard Down, south and west along the South West Coast path to Chapman's Pool and north to Corfe Castle. This is 27 ¾ miles in total (including 11 ½ miles of Coast Path). However the route can be split into shorter sections and can be walked in either direction:

  • Wareham to Corfe Castle is 6 miles - 2.5 hours to complete

  • Corfe Castle to Ballard Down is 6 ¼ miles - 4 hours to complete

  • Ballard Down to Chapman's Pool is 11 ½ miles following the South West Coast Path - 7 hours to complete

  • Chapman's Pool to Corfe Castle is 3 ¼ miles - 2 hours to complete

This route is signposted. 

Accessibility:

The first ½ mile of the Purbeck Way has recently been improved for wheelchair access so that it is a fairly level, well surfaced path with seating. Opposite Wareham Quay there is access into Priory Meadow which is also wheelchair/mobility scooter friendly (gravel paths).

The rest of the route is on public rights of way with stiles and gates.

Route leaflet:Purchase the leaflet from the Discover Purbeck Information Centre or you can download a copy of the Purbeck Way leaflet (pdf, 704kb) (opens in a new window).
Relevant Ordnance Survey map:

Explorer map No.OL15 (Purbeck and South Dorset). Purchase a copy from the Discover Purbeck Information Centre or Swanage Tourist Information Centre.

Footwear:

Walking boots recommended all year - wellington boots are better in winter and after heavy rain.

Public transport:
Parking:

Long stay parking in Wareham is available at Streche Road or Connegar Lane or at Norden Park and Ride in Corfe Castle.

Facilities and Refreshments:There are  pubs and cafes (opens in a new window) along the route at Wareham, Corfe Castle, Swanage and Worth Matravers. The nearest public toilets at the start of the route are found on Wareham Quay.
Other activities in the area:

Car Free Days Out, Wareham Walls, The Wareham Two Rivers Walks, Northport Greenway and Sika TrailPurbeck Cycle RidesSouth West Coast Path, Wareham Forest (opens in a new window), Wareham Museum (opens in a new window)

Extending the route

You can also walk the extended route by combining The Purbeck Way with the Purbeck Way West Route to explore the whole of south Purbeck using the South West Coast Path or Wareham to link the two routes. If you want to take your time to really explore the area, the walks can easily be split into shorter sections and  accommodation (opens in a new window) can be found along the way. Altogether the walks can take between 3 and 10 days depending on how fast you walk and how much time you want to spend in each village.

Who is the route managed by?

The Purbeck Way is managed by Dorset County Council in partnership with Purbeck District Council.

This walk, along with The Purbeck Way West Route, The Lawrence or Arabia Trail, Wareham Forest Way and Wareham Two Rivers Walks were created by the Purbeck Heritage Committee.

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