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Nov 2017

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It's not all about the castle, it's also the full name of this Dorset village and it couldn't be any cutesier had it been crafted by committee.

They've been settling here since 6,000 BC[1], they say, with Celtic, Roman, Saxon and Viking evidence found hidden neath the hedgerows.

[1] BC = Before Castle that, funnily enough, is some early work of another BC, Billy the C  onquerer.

Here be a strategic point in the Isle of Purbeck, you see, with a nice line in chalk keeping things defendable. Note it's said 'in' since it's not a real island, really, so you can't really be on the Isle of Purbeck.

It's a bit like when people say they're going up or down the shops even though they'll often be heading east.

The castle is  National Trust™ run and they've laid on some pay & display parking[1] just north of the village. From there it's a short hop along the road or a short loop by the river with the latter a chance to unearth a Saxon trinket in the woods, perhaps.

The route by the river is a chance to get up-close with what's largely been untouched since the 13th century. That makes this one of the oldest and one of the Trust's big hitters, their 10th-most-popular attraction since you ask, but it leaves them with a problem. It's likely to fall down.

Indeed, the precarious-looking keep only reopened in 2008 following a careful, two-year-long restoration and the castle itself is a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument.

There are also several Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the surrounding countryside and, as should be known by now, they don't hand them awards out willy-nilly.

[1] Your best bet, probably, since this place gets packed when it's not November.

If you've avoided any palaver with the parking then there's a good chance you've come here by train, a heritage, steam train, no less.

The  Swanage Railway runs the nine-or-so miles from, erm, Swanage to just up the road at Norden, which is where you'll hit the buffers. This former branch line used to link to the main line to London but it closed in 1972 and wasn't up and chuffing again until 1995, choo-choo!

Nothing much to report, locomotion-wise, since it's just tipped into November and it's weekends only until Santa gets the shovel out.

There's no way we're waiting three days, neither, they haven't even got any of them new-fangled radiators in a room that you might not really be allowed in today.

We are honestly not that interested in these things, they just keep following us around. Well, maybe one of us is and just a little bit more than they'd like to admit.

✔ Ridiculously picturesque, rural village with river... check!
✔ Heritage steam railway to avoid any problems with parking... check!
✔ Norman castle that acts as a fantastic,
dramatic backdrop... check!
✔ National Trust™
entrance to a designated Scheduled Ancient Monument... check!

How much again for an annual membership? Erm, do you take cheques?

  Corfe Castle Model Village & Gardens (The Square)

Quite why this attraction was thought to be inside the National Trust™ boundary isn't known so remains inexcusably overlooked. It can be found easily enough through an arch just down from the Trust's shop and is a 1:20 scale model although the entrance fee is more 1:3 compared to the real one.

It's how the village and castle would have looked before  Oliver's Army came calling in 1646 to leave things much as can be seen today.