The Purbeck Ridge from Corfe Castle.

Start. Corfe Castle.

Route. Corfe Castle - West Hill - Knowle Hill - Stonehill Down - East Creech - Norden Wood - Corfe Castle.

Notes. Built of Purbeck limestone the village of Corfe Castle is a visitors delight, with two main streets lined with quaint cottages roofed with thatch or thackstones, it's a pleasure to meander through. The village grew in the shadow of a mighty castle of the same name, the town and castle are able to boast a long history, the first castle was believed to have been constructed of wood around 979, but evidence suggests man lived on and around the Purbeck Hills 7000 years prior to that. The present day stone built castle was built by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, and for the next 600 years was a royal fortress used by monarchs of England, the stronghold’s rich history ended in 1646, demolished from within by parliamentarian forces.

There’s several car parks in and around the village, our day started in West Street car park, on stepping out of the car we were greeted with stunning views to Corfe Castle itself. After wandering down West Street we reached The Square, home to the Greyhound Inn, Post Office and Market Cross, the entrance to the castle is also here as is the Castle Tea Rooms. To the left of the tea rooms a tarmac path descends to the River Corfe. Our route followed this narrow path, after crossing a tarmac lane and wooden foot-bridge we turned left to pass through a metal gate, this is the route of the Hardy Way, blue arrows kept us on track. With a wire fence to our left and the steep slopes of Knowle Hill our right we wandered on, soon passing through a gate to enter dense scrub land, the path cut through various berry bushes, nettles, gorse and brambles to reach a metal gate allowing access to a good path rising to the ridge.

Once on the ridge the views were stunning, extensive panoramas over the Wareham Forest and the famous Dorset heath land. We wandered west, the whole ridge gifted us with superb views, all too soon we reached a tarmac lane and disused quarry, we followed the lane (about 50 yards) before a gate allowed access onto Ridgeway Hill and Stonehill Down. After ascending to a stoney track we turned right, rather disappointed we started our descent. With a wire fence to our left we slowly descended, after passing through a gate we stepped onto a tarmac lane. We continued down the lane to East Creech, little more than a farm and a few cottages, on reaching a T-junction we turned right, after passing the village pond another T-junction saw us following the lane in the direction of Furzebrook, when the road kinked left we entered Noren Wood.

On way-marked paths blue arrows guided us forward, this was once an area of extensive clay mining, just to make things a little more interesting disused clay pits are scattered throughout the woodland. After crossing two wooden foot-bridges the path followed the edge of the wood, we soon reached a stile allowing access to fields, we crossed the stile and fields to enter yet more woodland, here we turned left to wander through bracken, gorse and ancient oaks following a green path traversing the lower slopes of the ridge. Suddenly we stepped from the woods to be greeted with stunning views of Corfe Castle. Our journey nearly over we turned right to follow the fence line to the tarmac lane and wooden foot-bridge that aided our passage earlier, just one more stop to make, as it was a glorious day a visit to the garden of the Castle Tea Rooms seemed quite appropriate.

view route map.


This is the view that greeted us when we stepped from the car, shattered bastions of limestone that were once one of the greatest castles in England.

Wandering down West Street.

On the banks of the River Corfe looking to Corfe Castle.

The village of Corfe Castle stands on the principal route through the Purbeck Hills, a chalk ridge laid down in the Cretaceous period stretches from Ballard Down in the east to East Lulworth a distance of twelve miles.

Ascending Knowle Hill with views over Church Knowle.

Extensive views from Knowle Hill taking in Pool it's harbour and a sizable chunk of Dorset's heath.

Stunning views to the northwest.

Creech Barrow as seen from Knowle Hill.

Eest along the Purbeck Ridge with Corfe Castle nestled in the valley.

Sue soaks up the views over Pool Harbour from the memorial on Knowle Hill.

Viewing Church Knowle from the Purbeck Hills.

Pool Harbour seen over the disused quarry on Ridgeway Hill.

On Ridgeway Hill the English Channel finally comes into view.

Descending the lane to East Creech with wonderful views over the Dorset heaths and Wareham Forest.

Reflections, the village pond at East Creech passed en route.

Near East Creech viewing Knowle Hill.

The delightful path through Norden Wood.

Disused clay pits make our passage through this delightful wood a little more interesting.

Norden Wood, seen across green pastures from the lower slopes of Knowle Hill.

On the edge of ancient oak woods looking to Corfe Castle.

Drinking homemade lemonade, eating one rather large piece of Dorset apple cake in the garden of the Castle Tea Room, with this view for company.

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