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Swanage beach


Less than 10 miles from the hustle and bustle of Bournemouth and Poole, Swanage offers a very different holiday experience. Sheltered from the prevailing winds by the Purbeck Hills it has its own micro-climate.

The gently shelving, golden sandy beach and clear unpolluted water make this a firm favourite for holiday makers and day trippers. It has often been awarded Blue Flag status, as well as Tidy Britain Seaside awards..

Swanage pier

Swanage pier

One of the outstanding features of the sea front is the magnificently restored pier. Originally opened in 1896 for the docking of pleasure steamers, the pier was left to deteriorate when these operations ceased in 1966. In 1994, the Swanage Pier Trust acquired control and after spending over £1,100.000 restoring the timber structure, it was re-opened in 1998. A considerable contribution to this amount (over £180,000) was raised by the 'Friends of The Pier' Sponsor a Plank Appeal.

The pier is home to the Dive shop where you can hire equipment, replenish your cylinders or do diver training courses, and the Isle of Purbeck Sub-Aqua Club. It is also a popular location for fishing with rod and line.

Also on the seafront are replica tram tracks which are a reminder of another important aspect of Swanage's history - the shipment of Purbeck Stone to other parts of the UK.

Swanage railway

Swanage railway

Another example of Swanage's determination to maintain its history is the Swanage Railway ( for up-to-date information visit Swanage was first connected to the nation's railway network in 1885, but 87 years later the line to Wareham was closed as part of the infamous Dr Beeching cuts. Not only that, the whole of the track was lifted despite many protestations.

Swanage railway

In the summer of 1975 the Swanage Railway Trust was allowed to occupy the disused Swanage station site which is situated in the centre of the town, just a few minutes walk from the beach. Their avowed aim was to reconnect Swanage to the main line at Wareham; a seemingly impossible task.

Swanage Railway Station

However section by section the track has been re-laid as far as Corfe Castle and then Norden its current terminus, and in 2002 the first through train from the main line at Wareham visited Swanage albeit via a temporary section of track.

In 2009 the latest episode in the Swanage Railway occurred with the first public passenger service between Wareham and Swanage since 1972. This was "The Purbeck Pioneer", a 12-coach diesel-hauled rail tour from London Victoria. This was such a success that further tours from London have been announced including steam hauled expresses.

The dream of regular services from Swanage to Wareham and beyond is still to be achieved, but hopefully it is not as impossible as it seemed in 1975. Swanage is very much a day trip destination for the local population, but for those wishing to stay longer there is a wide range of holiday accommodation.

Swanage attractions

Swanage beach facing east

As well as the beach, Swanage has other notable attractions. On the cliff tops lies Durlston Country Park's 263 acres of delightful countryside. The cliff top is a place you may be lucky enough lucky visitors may even see the dolphins swimming in Durlston Bay.

Inland from the beach and cliff there are several places to spend an hour or two. The Beach Gardens Sports Park has all-weather tennis courts, outdoor bowls rink and an 18-hole putting course. The Swanage Bay View Holiday Park is a family entertainment centre with public access to their facilities.

Corfe castle

Just 6 miles away by road or rail is the historic village of Corfe Castle and the ruins of its thousand-year-old castle, a remarkable survivor of the English Civil War, rising above the Isle of Purbeck.

Swanage transport links

With the demise of the railway, road transport is the only means of getting to Swanage; having said that, the Swanage Railway operates a park and ride facility at Norden. This is a 25 minute train ride from Swanage with services every 40 minutes during peak season.

Access to Swanage by road is either by the A351 from Wareham, or via the Sandbanks to Shell Bay ferry. Both these routes can be slow in busy periods. Another extremely popular way of getting to Swanage during the summer is the Open Top double deck bus route operated by Wilts and Dorset (for service information visit This crosses the mouth of Poole Harbour on the chain ferry and then travels through the sand dunes of Studland before climbing the Purbeck Hills to Swanage.