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Compliant with Covid 19 Guidelines

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

Green Flag Award 2019
Green Flag Award


About Durlston Country Park


In response to the Covid-19 situation, there have been a number of changes at Durlston. Please see our Covid-19 page for details.

How to get here

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 320 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. 


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.


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.  Go down the turret to find the 'Rock' room and 4-screen cinema display.

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

seventhwave cafe - our daytime cafe and evening restaurant.

The Fine Foundation Gallery with regularly changing exhibitions - see the events guide for details

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. 



Cars and Motorbikes
1st April - 31st October
  • £5 for all day
  • £4 for 4hrs
  • £2.50 for 2hrs
  • £2 for 1 hour
  • £2 hours after 6pm
November - March
  • Weekdays: £2 all day, £1 up to 2hrs & after 6pm
  • Weekends: £3 all day, £2 for 2hrs, £1 up to 1hr & after 6pm
All times
  • £8

Coach parking is very limited. There is however a bus stop and drop off point.

Multiple mopeds and motorbikes may share one space for the above charges. 

Why We Charge

The only charge made for visiting Durlston is that of parking - it is also the biggest source of comments!  However it is essential, as it helps pay for:

  • Visitor facilities
  • Public Toilets
  • Countryside Ranger Service
  • Education Programme
  • Land Management    

Parking charges are payable all day every day.  Payment is made at the parking machines, 2 of which take card payments.   

There are no concessions for disabled visitors or blue badge holders. 

Overnight parking is not allowed. 


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.


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.


Sustainability Policy

Durlston Country Park is committed to championing sustainability in our local community. We strive to go above and beyond the guidelines set out in Dorset Council’s Environmental Policy and have implemented several measures to this effect. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Managing Durlston to maximise the value of the Park for wildlife (grasslands and woodlands act as a carbon sink, as well as supporting internationally important wildlife).
  • Installing 10KW of photovoltaic panels on site which have offset 42 tonnes of carbon as of 2019.
  • Using an air source heat pump to heat the Learning Centre.
  • Minimizing the use of Herbicides.
  • Minimizing waste and promoting recycling through the facilities provided on site.
  • Using only recycled plastic or paper bags in our shop.
  • An ongoing phased transition from petrol power tools to electric models.
  • Sourcing goods and services in line with environmental best practice.
  • Working with partner organisations and local interest groups to improve our standards and practices.
  • Working improve car free access opportunities including the Durlston Neighbourcar Lift-share scheme, a seasonal shuttle bus and improvements to pedestrian access from Swanage.
  • Installing a water refilling station at the Castle Kiosk for visitors to use.
  • The installation of a compost toilet at The Shed to reduce water use.
  • A programme of education for school groups and visitors to raise awareness of environmental issues and conservation.
  • Working in partnership with the Seventhwave Cafe to champion sustainability. The cafe has taken several measures including their 7 mile menu with ingredients sourced from within seven miles of Durlston, gaining plastic free status due to reducing single use plastic items and offering discounted takeaway drinks for those who bring their own containers.



The Council's policy of 'Conservation for Public Enjoyment' has formed the basis of the Park's management for 40 years. This, combined with the support of the Friends and many others has led to the awarding of a number of awards.  Including:

Green Flag 2019

The Castle renovation was voted the best Heritage Lottery Project in 2012.

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

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

The prestigious English Nature SSSI Award.

In October 2019, Durlston won Gold in the Accessible and Inclusive Tourism category of the Dorset Tourism Awards. The park then went on to win Bronze in the South West Tourism Awards in the same category.


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.

Park Map