The magical heart of Dorset

Harman’s Cross is quietly central to the attractions of the Jurassic Coast, easily accessible by bus and most of the time by steam train from Norden, Corfe Castle, Herston Halt (by request) and Swanage.

There is a fantastic new playground by the village hall where the kids can go ape on the climbing frames. (photo) Two nearby shops supply all the basics and both have an off licence.


Booking and contact

Please phone Annabel on:
07748 200271

Find us

We are at Harmans Cross, postcode BH19 3EB

View Harmans Cross in a larger map

The 8 acre site is situated 2 miles from Corfe Castle and 3 miles from Swanage, just south of the A351 in the village of Harmans Cross, BH19 3EB. Turn right at the crossroads, cross over the railway bridge and the Railway Campsite is on your left.

Walkers and cyclists ...

...will find the campsite strategically placed. Studland and the Poole Bay side of Purbeck are only a brisk walk over the downs to the North; Corfe Castle with its historic village a mere dawdle in the setting sun. To the Southwestish, cut cross country to Kingston and be refreshed not only by the presence of an alehouse but breathtaking views from its beer garden overlooking the Purbeck Hills and the ruined castle.

To the South, the waters of the English Channel pound the world famous Purbeck coastline where you can join the Jurassic Coast Path. Get there via Worth Matravers, overlooking said waters and famous for its pasty house where you may unearth a small but highly edifying museum dedicated to fossils and archaeological curiosities found locally. Ales are also available.

Swanage is a ten-minute train ride to the East, about an hour’s walk by country paths, by which time you may appreciate a dip in the bay. Of course, you may simply want to relax around the campfire.


Historic villages

The nearest historic villages to the campsite are Corfe Castle, Kingston, Worth Matravers and Langton Matravers. The hearts of these picturesque villages have not changed pace in hundreds of years and each harbours at least one ancient church worth exploring.

Corfe Castle is of course home to the world famous Norman ruins and silhouette of the castle, laden with royal history. It took an act of treachery to finally undo this royal bastion - much of the village is built of the stone from the castle!

Kingston is part of the Encombe Estate and boasts spectacular views of Corfe Castle and beyond. The Victorian church is a splendid example of its type, built when the old church was thought not to be grand enough to reflect the importance of the Earls of Eldon.

Worth Matravers and surrounds have been inhabited since the Stone Age, as evidenced by many of the archaeological finds now located in the museum at the Square and Compass pub. Note the ancient lynchets on the hillsides, formed over generations by prehistoric farmers. A short walk to the sea reveals old mine caverns pock marking the cliffs, many of which may be safely explored.

Langton Matravers is a handy stopping-off point if you’re walking to Swanage or to the coast. Also built from stone, it too may seem to the romantically inclined to have sprung from the ground itself, like stalagmites rising from the earth. This is another village where there is something going on for the family on a regular basis.


Only a bike ride away…

As the repository and distribution point for much of the stone to have been exported from Purbeck over the centuries, Swanage is steeped in history. The first port of call for anyone interested in such things should be the Swanage Heritage Centre. Students of architecture will be aware that the great builders John Mowlem and his nephew George Burt operated from here. The remains of ship’s ballast bought down from London by the barges on the return journey are still very much in evidence. The Town Hall, which boasts the facade of Sir Christopher Wren’s Mercer’s Hall, bears this out and see if you can spot the old fish wind vane that came from Billingsgate Market.

Kimmeridge – Famous for its surf, ‘K Bay’ has stunning views of the coastline to Portland; truly iconic Dorset scenery with the recently rebuilt folly of Clavell’s Tower retreating across the hillside. The café here provides hearty, traditional fare which is sourced as locally as possible, with beef and lamb coming from their own farm. You will travel through beautiful countryside to get there and although we suggest transport with wheels, it’s not too far to walk, either.

Durdle Door – Nature having an arch experiment with architecture. This is another world famous site of natural beauty, a great spot for a swim and a picnic.

Tyneham – Appropriated by the Army during WWII for training purposes, opinion is divided over whether it should have been returned to the inhabitants. It won’t happen now. There are few living links to Tyneham but well researched information boards offer a glimpse of what life in a remote Purbeck village was like. History buffs should be well rewarded by a day here and once again a glorious coastline is not far away.

Studland – Bordered by the ocean and Poole Harbour, it is home to the chain-ferry linking the Isle of Purbeck to the mainland. The beaches are long and golden and cater for people in all states of undress.

Wareham – Yet another ancient settlement, this one goes back to Saxon times and beyond. The remains of the Saxon walls surrounding Wareham are still very much in evidence – you may walk the length of them along their tops if you choose. The River Frome at Wareham forms the traditional Northern and Western boundaries of the Isle of Purbeck and flows into Poole Harbour. It is accessible by larger boats up to Wareham Quay, and has various anchorages. Landlubbers can feed the ducks and swans, the latter very much in evidence as they have nesting grounds on the nearby marshes.

For an extremely informative yet informal guide to the history and people of the area, read Purbeck Revealed by Ilay Cooper. You will find a copy at the local shops in Harman’s Cross and in outlets throughout the district. Your author resides but a stone’s throw away over the hill!


Flora and Fauna

This area houses a wide variety of habitats which in turn host a vast diversity of plants and wildlife. Purbeck is dotted with sites of scientific interest containing rare and at times unique flora and fauna. Orchid fanciers will literally have a field day and foragers will find mushrooms, wild garlic and the like in abundance - in season.

As mentioned, bird watchers will find no shortage of subject matter for their binoculars. Tawny and Barn Owls are familiar at the campsite and can certainly be heard if not seen at certain times.

Watch out for Pipestrelle Bats in the evening, and one or two other species, too. Deer, rabbits, foxes, badgers and squirrels – all the usual mammalian suspects are there to be observed as well.

The oak woods at the site are home to many of the campsite’s permanent residents . Butterflies and moths have been particularly prolific this year – Peacocks, Swallowtails, Orangetips and many others. Purbeck is one of the few places, if not the only place, you will find the Lulworth Skipper.


Picture credits: John Bointon, Shannon Ribbons, Marilyn Peddle, Simon Quinton, David Bunting, David Steadman

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