Whenever we’ve been in Dorset I’ve always struggled to find nearby National Trust venues, but I do like to do one historical visit when we’re on holiday. On this holiday, I decided that Lulworth Castle might be worth a trip.
On arrival it is the most confusing place. You have to pay for parking, and then pay for entry to the castle on top. The parking guy parked us in a field outside, but then there were no signs or indication telling you how to get in. We walked up towards the church with another 2 confused families, then we backtracked and walked in via a ‘private only’ route. They really should get a sign to tell people the way to go in.
Luckily we went early in the week before Camp Bestival, so although they were setting up, the castle was still open (the playground wasn’t, so if you’re going there in July, check festival dates before going).. N got very excited asking questions about what the telehandler was doing, and what was being moved around the grounds. That meant he just wanted to whizz round the castle as quickly as possible.
Lulworth’s quite a pretty castle. The outside looks immaculate as you approach, but inside is mostly open and half fallen down brickwork following a fire.
Children can follow a trail to count the bats, but we didn’t notice any on our walking round.
The basement is the best place for children. There’s an activity room with puzzles, colouring and drawing, games and various other displays to look at based on the castle. N spent some time looking at the old children’s toys, especially the rocking horse.
The best bit about the castle is making your way up the tower. It’s around 100 steps with plenty of platforms at each ‘floor’ to stop and have a breather if required. I think N preferred the climb to the view!
The views are mostly just gentle English countryside fields, with a couple of churches and the old stables areas in the other direction. It was somewhat ruined on the day we went because the army were doing shooting on their ranges just behind the castle grounds, so you could hear it and see the smoke fire in the distance.
They have a few outdoor games on the lawn, but fewer than I expected. N had a go at golf, before realising it was hard and giving up.
Instead, he preferred to pick daisies and dandelions for me.
We wanted to grab some food before going to Lulworth Cove, but there wasn’t a café, just a little kiosk which claimed to sell snacks, but looked like it was just ice creams and drinks. I thought that was a shame, but instead we just had to head on. That of course, was once I’d found which way to exit. Like arrival, the exit signs were non-existent. The parking guy was nowhere to be seen as we left, so I went eh way another car has exited. We followed the one sign we spotted but it took us the wrong way. Eventually I found a workman who pointed out the exit. As we left the right way, we had to let 2 cars past who were doing the same as we’d previously done.
I knew Lulworth Cove would be busy but hadn’t realised quite how busy. They cope with all the cars, by having a field car park, at the bottom of the walk up to the top of the cove. N was determined to walk up the path so see the view, but it was really too hot to be walking that much, and we were ready for lunch.
So we headed down to the main area, where there was Finley’s Café. Annoyingly after buying N his sandwich he then said he wasn’t hungry but they kindly put his leftovers into a takeaway box, and he took them to eat on the beach.
It’s only a short walk down to the cove, and despite the people, it’s still a beautiful place to sit and wile away time. We found a space, set out our blanket and sat down to enjoy the view, which almost looked Mediterranean in the sunshine.
I did have an argument with a horrible man who decided to seat his family virtually on top of our picnic blanket when there was plenty of space elsewhere. That wouldn’t have been too annoying had he not had a dog which after every run into the water would come running back to my blanket and shake water, sand, mud and whatever else all over me, our blanket and my camera. The man just laughed, every time. I was fuming. At least his wife tried to keep the dog over the other side of them away from us, but the man didn’t care. When I mentioned that maybe it wasn’t funny, and I’d have liked a bit of space and no dog shaking itself over us making a mess, he went off on one telling me I should expect to get mucky on the beach. Just madness. Yes if on a sandy beach I might expect to get a bit of sand in our lunch, on our blanket, in our clothes, but not getting muddy by people not keeping their dog under control.
N did try to paddle in the cove but wasn’t keen on the shingle. He did look cute trying though.
We didn’t have enough time to queue and go on the rib rides out to see Durdle Door, but they were very popular.
A quick walk back up the hill to the car stopping for an ice cream on the way, provided some comedy. N spotted the ice cream cow advertising the wares. The next thing I knew, N was knelt down and trying to milk its udders. Embarrassing but at least I could explain it to other people staring that he is a farmer’s son!
I was pleased we’d seen the cove, and N seemed to enjoy watching the boats and older children swimming in the water.
Have you ever visited Lulworth and other Dorset beaches?