CORFE CASTLE is open daily from March through October, from 10 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. (last admission 4.30); and daily from November through February, from noon to 3.30 p.m. (closed Christmas day and Boxing day). Admission costs £3 for adults and £1.50 for children. Tel: 01929 481294.
GETTING THERE: The castle is located 5 miles south of Wareham, on the Isle of Purbeck, a promontory in south-west Dorset. Follow the A351 south from Wareham. The Swanage Steam Railway offers service to the castle from Norden. A combined Railway & Castle ticket is available, tel: 01929 424276; British Rail also offers service to Wareham.
ACCOMMODATION: Cartshed Cottage in Church Knowle near Wareham is a beamed Tudor cottage offering single rooms from £17, doubles from £34. Tel: 01929 480801. The Old Curatage. This 300-year-old Purbeck stone house sits in the heart of the village very close to the castle. Single rooms are available from £20, doubles from £32. Tel: 01929 480657. Cromwell House Hotel, also near Wareham, offers stunning views of the sea and direct access to the coastal footpath. Single rooms are available from £24.50, double rooms from £49. Tel: 01929 400253.
NEARBY: Maiden Castle, 2 miles south of Dorchester on the A354, is one of the largest and best-preserved examples of English prehistoric forts. The castle, constructed in the early Neolithic period, continued to be a centre of population until A.D. 70 when the occupants abandoned it and moved to what is now the city of Dorchester.
Kingston Lacy is a spectacular 17th-century manor house designed for Sir Ralph Bankes and set in a large wooded estate 1/2 miles west of Wimborne. The house is open 1st April to 30th October daily except Thursday and Friday. The hours are noon to 5.30 p.m., with last admission at 4.30. The park and garden are open 11.30 a.m. to 6 p.m., or dusk, if earlier. Admission to the house, garden, and park costs £5.50 for adults, £2.70 for children, and is free to members of the Royal Oak Foundation or the National Trust. Tel: 01202 833402.
Brownsea Island, located in Poole Harbour, offers beautiful views of the Dorset coast. The Dorset Trust for Nature Conservation manages a nature reserve on the island, which is accessible by passenger ferry from Poole Quay and Sandbanks. Open daily from 1st April through 29th September, 10 to 8 p.m., or dusk, if earlier. A landing fee of £2.20 for adults and £1.10 for children is charged. Tel: 01202 707744.
TO BECOME A MEMBER of The Royal Oak Foundation, the National Trust’s U.S. membership affiliate, please write, call, or fax the Royal Oak Foundation, 285 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013, tel: 212-966-6565. fax: 212-966-6619. Membership includes free admission to all National Trust and National Trust of Scotland properties.