A Swanage curiosity, Dorset. At the far south end of the town by the sea is this superb mural commissioned by a disgruntled café owner as a poke in the eye for the local council.
Map of Southwest Dorset, Swanage and coast path
Swanage is an old-style seaside town in a delightful, rural, Purbeck Isle setting, about 6 miles (10kms) from Poole and 10 miles (16kms) from Bournemouth. It offers a sandy beach, some of the best weather in Britain due to a micro-climate (sadly that's not saying a lot), great seafood if you can afford it, down-market entertainments and sensational walks, along the coast in both directions and inland to Corfe Castle. Coast Path walks.
Swanage beach, sandy though occasionally besieged by seaweed. The mural at top is located more-or-less at the base of the grassy slope in the distance of this photo.
Swanage is accessible by train from Corfe Castle, Poole, Bournemouth, Southampton and London and other destinations en route. By road from Poole via Wareham and Corfe it's about an hour's drive, though from Bournemouth the route via Sandbanks ferry and Studland is much prettier and quicker, traffic depending.
There are plenty of excellent buses (#50, open top in summertime) running the ferry route. Taking the bus means that there are no parking problems, no queuing for the ferry (the bus gets priority), and if you wish to walk towards Studland on the stunning Southwest Coastal Path you can pick up the bus at various stages.
A cluster of the town's better historical buildings.
Less history and more crowds downtown. This is in August, peak season.
Looking beachwards towards the north of Swanage.
When the weather is grey or rainy Swanage provides an adequate selection of indoor entertainment: amusement arcades, a cinema complex, a theatre, pubs, cafés and restaurants while on off-beach, non-hikers find a train ride to beautiful old Corfe Castle interesting.
Hikers have many gorgeous routes available to them, though we suggest that the few miles walk over the hill to Studland via a cliff path past Old Harry rocks is an unbeatable trail.
Swanage main beach.
Swanage beaches offer fine sand, shallow calm waters and plenty of facilities nearby including Punch and Judy, even if the local council is a bit slow at clearing up the seaweed. The far north end of this beach is where watersports are located including jet-skis (check out Old Harry rocks from below!), kayaks and water-skiing.
The view up to Ballard Down, part of the Purbeck Isle. There is a magnificent walk - highly recommended by travel writer Bill Bryson - over the hill to Studland and Shell Bay on the coast path. See the Swanage to Shell Bay walk.
Map of Studland | Map of Southwest Dorset and coast path
Corfe Castle | Kimmeridge | Studland | Studland beaches
Weymouth | Lyme Regis | Bournemouth | Sandbanks
UK Tourist Map | England
Guide | Dorset Pictures | South West Coast Path | England