We spent last week camping in beautiful Corfe Castle on the Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. I’d been before, twice, and stayed at Swanage. But that was around 30 years ago. It was my “turn” to suggest a place to go, and while the expected response was North Devon, I think I surprised everyone, even myself, when I suggested Dorset.
Dorset is a very long way away from where we live. It was already a very long way away from where I lived when I lived in Birmingham, and now it’s an additional 100+ miles away. It took us a good 4 – 5 hours to get there. But we were very lucky and missed all of the traffic.
Weather-wise, we had a mostly glorious week with just one day of strong wind and heavy rain.
The rain was so bad that our brand new air tent sprung a leak, and then it sprung another one, and then it sprung another and another and another.
It took us several hours to get some telephone support, but we were told what to do to make a temporary repair, and then we were to ring them up when we got home and they’d come and collect the tent, lend us another one if necessary, and either repair or replace our tent.
You can’t say fairer than that – although they did offer to come out and repair the tent too if we wanted. But we knew what to get from a local camping shop.
However, I’m jumping ahead. The start of the week was lovely, and on our first day out, the Sunday, we headed off to the coast via the “lost” village of Tyneham.
Tyneham was a pretty little village right in the middle of where the MoD wanted a firing range. It wasn’t a poor place and the residents always believed they’d get their homes back once the war was over and they’d “done their bit”, as the village was commandeered in 1943. They were given 28 days notice to pack up and leave … but they were never allowed to return.
In the 1970s, some descendants tried to reclaim the village, but they had to cut through barbed wire to plant trees on the graves of their relatives. This suggests that the village was still closed to the public at that time.
Now it’s open at weekends and on bank holidays, or whenever the firing range isn’t in use. There is no admission charge, but donations are requested at the car park and in the church.
The place was already fairly run-down when I last visited almost 30 years previously. There looks as though there has been some restoration work since then, though, but there are also houses that have fallen into further and complete ruin.
Our intention was to just drop by on our way to Lulworth Cove, but we ended up spending longer than planned, wandering in and out of the houses, taking photographs.
There are several walks in the surrounding area now, and a farm has opened that I don’t remember from before.
We felt quite humbled by the fact that the homes still look as though they were simply abandoned quickly and temporarily. It’s very serene, though, and pleasant, and a lovely place to wile away a few hours.
A beautiful place but a sad story. A very sad story.