Durlston Country Park
Durlston Country Park is a 320-acre country park and nature reserve stretching along the coast of the Isle of Purbeck at Durlston near Swanage in Dorset, England. The Park, which is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, has been owned by Dorset County Council since the early 1970s and is mostly open access (the Anvil Point Lighthouse and Tilly Whim Caves are not accessible to the public.)
The Lighthouse at Anvil Point is built of local stone and was completed in 1881.
Wildlife and habitat
The Park has a mosaic of habitats, hosting a wide range of species. Habitats include sea-cliffs, downs, ancient meadows, hedgerows, woodland, and dry-stone walls – each with their characteristic plants and animals. These include 33 species of breeding butterfly, over 250 species of bird recorded, 500 wildflowers, 500 moths and thousands of other invertebrates.
The underlying rock is limestone so the majority of the park is calcareous grassland, probably created about 1000 years ago by clearing of oak forest, hosting a range of wild flower species and associated animals such as butterflies.
In the 19th and 20th centuries Purbeck was quarried for its high-quality limestone. There were few open-cast quarries, and none in Durlston, but there are many mine shafts across the landscape, notably Tilly Whim Caves in a dry glacial meltwater valley.
In 1887 George Burt built a small Castle at Durlston Head, on the hill above Durlston Bay and the town of Swanage. The Durlston Castle was never a real castle, but was purpose-built to be used as a restaurant for his Durlston estate. Burt also commissioned a 40-ton limestone Globe, three metres in diameter, engraved with an 1880s world map. The footpaths around the Castle and Globe are lined with cast iron London bollards which were left in Swanage having been used as ballast by the ships transporting stone to London. Other ornaments include plaques carved with quotations from Shakespeare and the Bible, maps showing the English Channel and the United Kingdom, and facts about the natural world.
Visitor facilities at Durlston include a Visitor Centre, the Lookout cafe, walking trails, public toilets and car parking along with a castle containing a shop. Durlston provides access to popular climbing areas, Subliminal, Boulder Ruckle and Cattle Troughs.
Awards and designations
The Park is Grade II listed in the National Register of Historic Parks and Gardens. Most of the Park is designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and since 1997, a Special Area of Conservation. The majority is also designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance. In 1997 the Dorset and East Devon Coast was awarded World Heritage Site status for its geological importance. Durlston forms part of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Purbeck Heritage Coast (which holds a Council of Europe Diploma for its management). In June 2008, Durlston was awarded national nature reserve status by Natural England in recognition of the national importance of Durlston for wildlife.
Durlston was awarded the Green Flag Award in 2008 for the third consecutive year, in recognition of the quality of its amenities for visitors.
- Historic England. "Durlston Castle Historic Landscape (1001701)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 11 February 2016.