Monday, October 15, 2012

Corfe Castle & Swanage Railway

Somewhere reasonably local that I meant to go all summer was Corfe Castle, Swanage & the Purbecks.  Not being around for a single summer weekend kind of killed that plan, so with the sun shining brightly Saturday last I finally made the relatively short drive west past Poole.

A short leisurely walk from the Swanage Railway (more later) Park & Ride had me circling the base of the hill that the castle stands on.  Having been built by William the Conqueror, its a thousand or so years old, but was ruined during the Civil War when, as one of the last southern Royalist strongholds, it finally fell to the Parliamentarians.   As one would expect from a defensive position, the castle affords really good views of the picturesque Purbeck countryside.

With the castle such a ruin, although some of the walls still stand quite tall, there was plenty of space to wander around & explore - & avoid people, it's quite a popular place to visit.  Apparently this is Famous Five country & the castle inspired the one on Kirrin Island - I was disappointed that I didn't discover any dungeons, tunnels or bearded smugglers.

The other attraction around the village is the Swanage Railway that runs various steam locos down to the seaside at Swanage.  A much bigger operation than the Watercress Railway, I was surprised at just how popular it was - difficult to find a seat on one of the six carriages.  The Pullman Observation car looked pretty impressive too - alas, I didn't have the pound coin needed to upgrade.

Down at Swanage it was time to finally visit the bikeshop I order quite a bit of stuff from - bit of a 29er, singlespeed, cargo bike haven.  I was quite surprised that they had Avanti bikes as their rentals - all the way from NZ.  Wandering down to the shore it was time for a late & large lunch - not much dinner needed that night.

Workmate Henry thought that eight o'clock on Sunday morning was a good time to meet on the other side of the Forest for a ride - he managed to choose the coldest morning of the season so far.  At least that meant it was clear again.  Driving out towards Burley in the mist from Brockenhurst I found all sorts of deer and longhorn cattle.  If it had have been a bit colder the ground may not have been so wet - however, we had a nice little pootle around before the others had to leave. 

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