On our last visit to Dorset, England, we travelled on the steam train from Corfe Castle to Swanage, an award-winning heritage railway.
The Swanage Railway is an excellent attraction on the Jurassic Coast and makes a perfect day out. The full-size steam and diesel trains travel five and a half miles from Norden to Swanage, stopping at Corfe Castle.
Corfe Castle to Swanage Steam Train
We took the Norden to Swanage steam train from Corfe Castle to Swanage – it also stops at Herston Halt (a request stop) and Harman’s Cross.
There’s something special about riding on an original steam train, imagining what it was like back in 1885 when the railway first opened. It was a fantastic experience for our daughters and only the second steam train they have been on (the first was Hotham Valley Railway in Western Australia).
The scenery is picturesque as you travel through lush countryside with views of the Purbeck Hills and Corfe Castle as you pull into the station.
Trains usually run daily from the beginning of April to the end of October and on weekends during March, November, and December.
The Steam Train
Our steam locomotive was the 80146, constructed at Brighton Works in 1926 and rebuilt in 1928. It was withdrawn from service in 1964 then restored and operated on the Mid Hant’s Railway from 1981 to 2014, when it transferred over to the Swanage Railway.
The 80146 is the only surviving K-class rebuild and currently the only U class operational.
Corfe Castle & Swanage Railway Stations
Swanage and Corfe Castle train stations were originally part of the London and South Western Railway (L&SWR) branch line from Wareham to Swanage.
The beautiful Swanage station is built from grey Purbeck stone and has two platform tracks on either side of a passenger platform. It has a gift shop selling books, souvenirs, prints, clothing, and model railway items.
Corfe Castle station features a vintage ladies’ waiting room, wooden floors, and coal fires.
Both Swanage and Corfe castle stations have toilet facilities.
Swanage Steam Train Timetable
For up-to-date timetables and events, please check directly with Swanage Railway.
Swanage Steam Train Tickets
Tickets can be booked online up to an hour before departure and at Norden, Corfe Castle, and Swanage stations.
You can purchase return tickets or one-way with prices for adults and children (5 to 15). Family tickets are available for return journeys only (2 adults & up to 3 children).
Children under five travel free if they do not occupy a seat.
Swanage Railway has events and seasonal specials, including Christmas lunch and the Christmas Train.
Corfe Castle to Swanage Steam Train Accessibility
The train stations are accessible, and the trains can accommodate wheelchairs with ramps for boarding. Wheelchair users will travel in the guard’s van unless they have some mobility to travel in the passenger carriages.
Parking is available at Purbeck Park at Norden station and Victoria Avenue car park, a 5-minute walk to Swanage station.
There’s no parking at Corfe Castle.
Things To Do in Corfe Castle
The village of Corfe Castle is on the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula surrounded by the English Channel and the River Frome. It’s a picturesque village with castle ruins, a model village, a railway museum, and quaint pubs.
The village is where Edward the Martyr, boy-king of Wessex, was murdered by request of his stepmother Aelfrida so his younger brother Aethelraed (“the Unready”) could take the throne in AD 975.
The ruins of Corfe Castle, built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, are perched on a 55m high hill between the Purbeck Ridge. The castle was partially constructed from stone with a stone wall around the hilltop, creating an inner enclosure. In the 12th century, King Henry I built a keep (fortified tower) within the castle, providing a strong fortress.
King John and King Henry III extended the castle with extra walls, halls, and a chapel. At Corfe Castle, King John’s niece, Eleanor Fair Maid of Brittany, was imprisoned for posing a threat to the throne, and twenty-two of her guards were starved to death.
Sir John Bankes bought the castle in 1635, but his wife, Lady Mary Bankes, looked after it while he was in London. During the Civil War, the castle was besieged twice by Parliamentarians, but Lady Bankes held on against the troops for nearly three years until she was betrayed by one of her own.
Parliamentary troops partially demolished Corfe Castle in 1646, which is what you see today.
The Bankes family regained the castle after the restoration of the monarchy in 1660. It remained in their family until 1982, when Ralph Bankes bequeathed the whole Bankes Estate to the National Trust.
Corfe Castle is open daily and doesn’t require booking.
Prices as of October 2022 are:
|Children (5-17 year olds, under 5 free)
|Family (two adults and up to three children)
National Trust Members: free.
Dogs are allowed on a short lead.
Corfe Castle has a cobbled path leading to it, but the paths in the castle are steep with some steps.
Swanage Railway Museum
If you’re interested in trains, visit the Swanage Railway Museum, housed in the old goods shed at Corfe Castle station. This museum documents the history of the Swanage Railway and includes photos, signs, and equipment.
The museum is open from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm when the passenger trains are running.
Corfe Castle Model Village
To see what Corfe Castle looked like in 1646 before the destruction by Oliver Cromwell’s troops, visit this model village. It’s a great way to visualise how it looked back then, and the gardens are a beautiful place to explore flora and fauna. Families will love the giant games they supply (draughts, big 4, and hi-tower).
The Courtyard Café and Tea Rooms are usually open from 10 am serving breakfast, cream teas, cakes, and light lunches.
You can also combine the model village with the train ticket.
Corfe Castle Waterpark
Dorset Adventure Park features a waterpark and a mud assault course. The waterpark has an inflatable course on two lakes, and the 2 km assault course has over 50 obstacles. Either way, you’re in for a lot of fun!
Places to Eat in Corfe Castle
Swanage, Corfe Castle, and Norden train stations all have kiosks serving snacks and drinks to take onboard the train. However, we prefer to have lunch in one of the pubs in Corfe Castle.
Corfe Castle Pubs
The Greyhound Inn is Corfe Castle’s most popular pub, which could be due to the fantastic views of the castle from its beer garden.
The Bankes Arms is a family-owned and run boutique hotel and pub in a 16th-century Grade 2-listed Manor House.
The family-run Castle Inn, a village-type pub, is renowned for its friendly service and delicious home-cooked food.
The Fox Inn is a quaint pub but has mixed reviews concerning the service and food.
Cafes, Restaurants, and Shops
The Pink Goat is a homely licensed restaurant serving breakfast and lunch daily and dinner on Friday and Saturday nights.
Corfe Castle Village Bakery has a range of pies, pastries, and sweet goods – try their delicious cornish pasty!
Box of Delights is an ice cream shop selling soft drinks, postcards, gifts, and locally-made ice cream.
Accommodation & Hotels in Corfe Castle
If you want to stay in Corfe Castle, there are a few options. We stayed in a cottage in West Knighton, but these accommodation options are highly rated.
This family-owned, grade 2-listed Elizabethan Manor House was built in the shape of an ‘E’ to honour Queen Elizabeth, who stayed there. Built in 1950, several noble families have owned the house.
There are twenty-one rooms to choose from, some having views of Corfe Castle.
Free Wi-Fi is available in public areas.
This early-19th-century building, made of grey Purbeck stone, is a 4-minute walk from Corfe Castle and offers guests bed & breakfast. All rooms have a private bathroom, TV, fridge, and coffee machine.
Free Wi-Fi is available in all areas.
Jonti Bed & Breakfast
Located 700 m from Corfe Castle, this adults-only bed & breakfast has two ensuite rooms with a fridge and tea/coffee-making facilities.
Are dogs allowed on Swanage Steam Train?
Dogs are allowed on the Swanage steam train for £2 for a single trip or £3 return. However, they are not permitted in the Buffets, the Dining Trains, the Station Shop, or the Santa Specials (except for assistance dogs).
Can I take a pushchair on Swanage Steam Train?
You can take a pushchair on the Swanage steam train, but it is kept in the guard’s compartment.
How long does the Swanage train trip take?
The journey from Swanage to Corfe Castle is 17 minutes, and 22 minutes to Norden.