Welcome to Durlston in Swanage!
By Ben Holley – Durlston Ranger Level 2
Durlston is a 320 acre Country Park and National Nature Reserve stretching along the coast of the Isle of Purbeck on the outskirts of Swanage in Dorset. The park is a popular destination for tourists to enjoy the walks, views, visitor centre, and wildlife, including Durlston Castle, the Great Globe, Tilly Whim Caves, and Anvil Point Lighthouse. It is a gateway to the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, forms part of the 630 mile South West Coast Path, and is owned and managed by Dorset Council.
A day at Durlston has something for anyone, whatever the weather! Discover flower filled meadows and hunt for butterflies or explore the Victorian Pleasure Grounds and historic Great Globe, take in an exhibition at the Castle, or just relax and watch the sea. Discover stunning landscapes, amazing wildlife, exciting events and Victorian history as you explore Durlston’s Jurassic Coast. At Durlston Castle rooftop views, exhibitions, and a café, gallery and shop, make for a great day, whatever the weather! You can view our events calendar here: Events | Durlston Country Park
Take a stroll along our Play Trail
Our woodland play trail is the perfect place to start exploring the park with little kids (or big kids at heart!). Through the sheltered canopy of the trees you will discover swings, balance logs, and hammocks. Engage different senses as you explore our ‘feely boxes’, the barefoot path, listening post, and chimes.
Each play features is designed to inspire a sense of adventure and opportunity to connect with nature. Perhaps you will continue to explore by making a den, climbing a tree, or seeing what bugs you can find!
Your Visit To The Park
If you want to enjoy some of the very best wildlife, scenery, and coastal walking in Dorset. Durlston is perfect for a short, gentle stroll, or a day of hiking on the Southwest Coast Path. Five waymarked Trails start and finish at the Castle, where you can pick up a Trail guide to help you explore. The gentle, well surfaced Woodland Trail leads you through the historic Durlston Pleasure Grounds, the Wildlife Trail explores through rolling downs and meadows, the Clifftop Trail takes in seabird colonies and spectacular views of Old Harry and the Isle of Wight, while the Victorian Trail takes you to historic Swanage and back. Plan your visit here: Plan Your Visit | Durlston Country Park
Wildlife at the National Nature Reserve
Durlston really has a National Nature Reserve status for a reason! One of the best sites locally to see such a wide variety of wildlife. Durlston is host to over 250 species of bird and is an important resting place for spring and autumn migrants and Durlston’s Guillemot colonies are both the most easterly and second largest on the South Coast. To date over 458 species of ‘macro-moths’ and more than 200 ‘micro-moths’ have been recorded on the Park, why not join a ‘Meet a Moth’ event to find out more about them. With varying habitats around the park, there is not wonder we have such a collection of wildlife species documented to date! Find out more about Durlston’s wildlife by visiting Wildlife | Durlston Country Park
Fine Foundation Gallery – Exhibitions and Weddings at Durlston Country Park
Don’t miss a visit to the beautiful Fine Foundation Gallery at Durlston Castle. Throughout the year, exhibitions change every few weeks – from drawings, paintings, sculpture, ceramics or textiles, by artists and makers from Purbeck, and around the country, there will always be something new to discover!
Did you know you can also hire Durlston Country Park for weddings and functions? The beautiful gallery and belvedere offer a stunning location for those special events. For more information visit Weddings and Hire | Durlston Country Park. Or if you’re interested in exhibitions at Durlston’s Fine Foundation Gallery please visit Fine Foundation Gallery | Durlston Country Park
Events at Durlston in Swanage.
We have a whole host of fantastic events spanning over the year here at the Country Park including the following:
Health and Wellbeing: Including park yoga, parkrun, Gentle strolls
Arts and Workshops: Drawing workshops, exhibition workshops, creativity workshops
Kids Activities: Kids activity trails each school holidays, drop in events and ranger led activities
Live performances, Music and Film: Outdoor cinema, Purbeck Film Festival, The Enchanted Cinema
Guided walks and talks: A host of different walks learning about different aspects of the park.
With so much going on it’s hard not to get stuck in at Durlston and we have so many opportunities to get involved.
Work Parties: Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we have a volunteer work group head out on the park to crack on with important jobs for the management of our National Nature reserve.
Shed Groups: Our Durlston Shed meets every Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon to do a range of activities from woodwork to craft and gardening.
Volunteering: We have so many other volunteering roles from Counter Volunteers in the Castle, to helping us with admin in the office. (We may provide some refreshments!)
Become a Friend of Durlston: Signing up to become a friend of Durlston not only supports the work that we are doing, it also gives you perks of evening talks and discount in the Seventhwave restaurant!
There is so much to see and do here in Dorset, why not check out our recommended days out.