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About Durlston Country Park

Situated in the south-east corner of the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset (grid ref SZ  03 77), a mile south of Swanage, lies Durlston Country Park  280 acres of very special countryside.

The Country Park was established in the 1970s by Dorset County Council, and 30 years of careful management by the Ranger team have resulted in a superb site that everyone can enjoy.

Durlston Castle was restored in 2011 to become a spectacular new facility for visitors to Durlston and the Jurassic Coast.

 

Wildlife and Landscape

Few places in Britain equal Durlston: The bare statistics merely hint at the amazing diversity of wildlife: 33 species of breeding butterfly, over 250 species of bird recorded, 500 wildflowers, 500 moths and thousands of other invertebrates. 

Durlston's special qualities stem from a combination of geography, geology, history and careful management which has created a mosaic of nationally important wildlife habitats: sea-cliffs, downs, ancient meadows, hedgerows, woodland, and dry-stone walls each with their characteristic plants and animals. 

History

Wildlife apart, there are plenty of other things to see: The history of  Durlston can be detected in the now dry, glacial river valley, the ancient Saxon field systems, two types of quarry the inland Purbeck Stone Quarr, and the Portland limestone cliff quarry known as Tilly Whim Caves.

High on the ridge remain the footings of a Napoleonic telegraph station, and Anvil Point Lighthouse adds further interest to a visit.

The eminent Victorian, George Burt, left a legacy of fascinating artefacts. These include the 'Great Globe' 40 tons of Portland limestone,  cast-iron bollards from the City, St Martin's and other parts of London, and Durlston Castle itself all  linked by scenic cliff-top paths  with Victorian panels quoting poetry and facts of interest.

Facilities

Durlston Castle

The visitor centre at Durlston Castle is a must for all -recent wildlife sightings, daily and monthly displays and live wildlife cameras all ensure the latest information for  visitors.

There are also live pictures from the seabird colony on the  cliffs and sound from an underwater hydrophone. 

A Ranger is always available to help you make the most of your visit.

The Castle also contains seventhwave - a daytime cafe and evening restaurant and the Fine Foundation Gallery, which features new exhibitions each month. 

Family Activities

Guided Walks and Events

A  full programme of events, guided walks, boat trips, talks, children's events and other activities run throughout the year.

Paths and Trails

Four clearly waymarked Trails, each with its own information leaflet provide an ideal introduction to Durlston.

All Trails begin at  the Castle. 

A network of Public Footpaths criss-cross the site, with good access to the South-west Coast Path. 

Education

Each year, thousands of school children and students use Durlston as an educational resource.  A wide range of sessions and other educational facilities are provided  by the Rangers to help them get the most from their visit.

Community

Friends of Durlston

The Park has always had close ties with the local community, and the Friends of Durlston organisation provides a focus for goodwill and support. 

Over 700 Friends provide an enormous amount of practical help from running the Visitor Centre counter and updating our wildlife records, to monitoring butterflies and building dry stone walls.

There is also a thriving social side to the 'Friends', with illustrated talks held monthly and other events throughout the year.

Achievements

Awards

The  County Council's policy of 'Conservation for Public Enjoyment' has formed the basis of the Park's management for 30 years.

This, combined with the support of the Friends, has led to both organisations being jointly awarded the  prestigious English Nature SSSI Award.

In 2006 Durlston recieved both the Royal Horticultural Society's 'Conservation and Environment Award' for outstanding conservation work

In 2008, for the third time, we were awarded the 'Green Flag', recognising the quality of amenities for visitors.

In 2010, Durlston was voted 2nd in a competition to find Britain's Favourite Park, organised by the Keep Briatin Tidy Group.

Designations

As an internationally important site for wildlife and geology, Durlston is protected by a host of designations. Durlston forms part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Purbeck Heritage Coast (which holds a Council of Europe Diploma for it's management).

Most of the Park is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and since 1997, a Special Area of Conservation. Most of the Park is also designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, while in 1997, the Dorset and East Devon Coast was awarded World Heritage Site status for its geological importance.

In June 2008, Durlston was awarded National Nature Reserve Status by Natural England in recognition of the national importance of Durlston for wildlife.

This long list of accolades and designations that highlight the site's importance and provide a reminder of the great care that must be taken to conserve this wonderful facility for future generations.

At any time of year, a visit to Durlston is a memorable experience. Despite its popularity, there is still the peace and quiet to enjoy the natural splendours of the area, and no matter how many times you visit there is always something new to see and enjoy.

Durlston Country Park Aerial Shot
Durlston from the air

Small Scabious Above the Lighthouse
Anvil Point Lighthouse and Scabious

Great Green Bush Cricket
Great Green Bush-cricket

Bee Orchid at Durlston
Bee Orchid

The Globe Supported (1890)
George Burt's Globe (1890)

Visitor Centre Info Desk
Visitor Centre 

Bugs in the Grass
Children's Event

Tilly Whim Board
Coast path at Tilly Whim

Coast path at Tilly Whim
Dry stone walling volunteers

Dry stone walling volunteers
Green Flag Award 

Park Map

Park map
Enlarge Map