Last year, during August, there was a direct bus route (X43) from Dorchester to Swanage via Weymouth. This year you have to change buses at Wareham, but it is still quite convenient and cheap if you have a bus pass! We have not visited Swanage for over 20 years, so the bus provided a good reason to go along and take a look. The journey is quite long and yesterday there was a great deal of traffic. Everywhere seemed very busy, so there were also plenty of delays, but we arrived at Swanage railway station at about midday, having caught the first available X43 bus. It is a great bus ride with brilliant views. I reckon the journey is worth it for the views alone.
Swanage seemed crowded. The station, where the bus terminates, was very busy with steam enthusiasts and general holiday makers milling around. We strolled down to the front and walked along the promenade in the general direction of Durlston Head.
We planned on following the Coast Path out to the Head, taking a break there and walking back in good time for the last return bus. The Coast Path is easy to find and follow and we were soon (45 minutes maybe) at the Castle. Just in time, because it started to rain just minutes before we arrived! Luckily we found seats, because the cafe was very busy, and shared a table with two kind people who offered to share their meal with us when they saw we were only having coffee and a piece of cake to share. We spoke about how Swanage had changed, and skiing! He described himself as garrulous and it was a pleasant interlude.
After leaving the cafe we walked down to the Globe and had our picnic lunch seated on a stone seat marked East. The Globe itself weighs 40 tonnes and was actually made in 15 pieces in Greenwich in 1887 at the behest of George Burt, a local man who retired back to Swanage in 1886 after buying the Castle and presumably much of the ground in 1882. The globe is made from Portland stone and was taken to Swanage by sea.The last part of the Coast Path out to the Castle is tree-lined; a shame because it hides some magnificent views, like that below, looking back to Weymouth towards Ballard Down with Peveril Point in the foreground
The buses from Swanage to Wareham are hourly and we just missed the 15.05, so we took a walk along the sea front and saw some of the engineering work being undertaken to prevent coastal erosion along the promenade. We returned in good time for the next bus. This was popular and there was a big queue. but we just about all got on. The views of Corfe Castle on the way back were stunning and the ridge walk following the Purbeck Way looked very inviting. We had about a 40 minute wait in Wareham before the last X43 bus arrived. So we took a look around and jolly nearly took a train back. When we arrived in Weymouth it had just started raining again. This time it was significant rain and we were grateful for the fact that it had held off this long.
We ended up walking about 7km. It was good to visit again after such a long time but we recognised very little.