Durlston Country Park

A stunning national nature reserve on the Purbeck coast south of Swanage.


Durlston Country Park: a national nature reserve

Site Details: 
Name of Location Durlston Country Park
Highlights Butterflies, Chalk grassland flora, Fungi in autumn, Migrating Birds, Orchids, Views
  • Ample parking on site
  • Charge for parking
  • Manned visitor centre
  • Cafe on site
  • Toilets on site
  • Picnic area
  • Seats around the site
  • Information leaflet available
  • Signed routes and trails
  • Well made paths
  • Mobility vehicle available
  • Guided walks and events
  • Dogs on leads only
OS Map Reference SZ033773
Aspect Detail
Area Isle of Purbeck
Geology Limestone
Manager Local Authorities
Access Tramper
Hazards for the less able: 
Hazard Comment Description
Steep Slopes There are some steep slopes and climbs in places

Escarpments and downland are often left unfarmed and so have a diversity of plant life and become designated as nature reserves to protect those species that are present. Steep slopes in such environments can be a struggle to climb and the risk of falling will always be present and special care is needed. 

Cliff Edges Leave the cliff edges to the well equipped climbers!

Coastal reserves may often have steep cliffs down to the sea. Keep children under close control in such places and adults should not venture too near the edge either. The Coastguard service is excellent but don't depend on them to get you out of trouble. It is amazing how many rescues are carried out each year along the Dorset coast. 

Mud It can be muddy around the fields, especially in winter

If you encounter mud on a reserve without the right footwear then you can have problems. Mud can occur anywhere, of course, after heavy rain but some reserves on clay or heavy soils can be muddy for much of the time. Activities such as mountain biking and horse riding can also churn up paths and make them almost impassable. 

Livestock Some delightful Hereford cows are used to graze the fields and downs

Grazing by cows, sheep or horses is an essential part of the management plan on many reserves. The livestock themselves are not a hazard but their dung can be unpleasant and very slippery if you are unfortunate enough to step in it! Soft ground on reserves where cows are grazed can become very pitted, uneven and muddy. Some people, of course, are very nervous about being close to livestock. It is essential that dogs are kept on leads near livestock (but then should always be on leads on nature reserves) and it is also essential that gates are closed after you.

More site photos (see also link below): 

This map shows the location of the reserve (purple marker) and access points to the reserve (yellow markers). You can use the Google map controls to zoom in get a more detailed idea of where it is and where to park. If you click on a marker more information about directions,  sat nav co-ordinates and parking will display.

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