Most visitors to us at South Lytchett Manor are keen to get out and discover the treasures our local area has on offer. Many enjoy heading for days out in Dorset to attractions and land that are managed National Trust.
The charity looks after coastline, forests, woods, fens, beaches, farmland, moorland, islands, archaeological remains, nature reserves, villages, historic houses, gardens, mills and pubs. They restore them, protect them and open them up to everyone. For the Trust, conservation has always gone hand-in-hand with public access. Entry and parking to most National Trust properties and land is free for members, however they are open to non-members as well for a daily fee.
Here we list the 12 National Trust days out in Dorset all of which are a short journey from our campsite in Dorset.
1 Brownsea Island
Famous as the birthplace of Scouting and for having a diverse wildlife population. Brownsea is the largest island in Poole Harbour and offers a fabulous option for days out in Dorset. Just hop on a ferry from either Poole Quayside or Sandbanks and after a short picturesque boat trip across the harbour you’ll set foot on the wonderfully unspoilt island.
If you’re lucky you can spot red squirrels along with a wide variety of birds, including, kingfishers, terns and oystercatchers. There have also been sightings of seals in the harbour so keep your eyes peeled for these elusive creatures. Brownsea can be the perfect day’s adventure – this island wildlife sanctuary is easy to get to but feels like another world from the moment you step ashore.
Distance from South Lytchett to Poole Quay – 4.5 miles
Distance from South Lytchett to Sandbanks – 9 miles
2 Corfe Castle
A visit to Corfe Castle is high up on many people list of days out in Dorset. Situated high up on an imposing mound in the heart of the Purbecks, the ruins of Corfe Castle can be spotted from miles away. The whole site is now managed by the National Trust who have a visitors centre and car park adjacent to the castle.
Partially demolished in 1646 by the Parliamentarians you can now discover over 1,000 years of our history as a royal palace and fortress. With fallen walls and secret places, there are tales of treachery and treason around every corner.
It offers a great family day out as young and old are enthralled by the battle scars that cover the castle. There are medieval costumes to dress up, stocks to lock up the kids in temporarily and sometimes working trebuchets to hurl pretend rocks and oil from.
3 Studland Bay
On the Eastern edge of the Jurassic Coast is the stunning Studland Bay. It can be reached by car or bus from either Corfe Castle or via the chain ferry, which runs from Sandbanks in Poole. The four-mile stretch of golden sands offer gently shelving bathing waters making it a great days out in Dorset. There are great views of Old Harry Rocks and even over to the Needles on the Isle of Wight.
There are four main beaches that make up the bay; South Beach, Middle Beach, Knoll Beach and Shell Bay. The heathland behind the beaches are a haven for native wildlife and features all six British reptiles. There are National Trust car parks located along the peninsula so having a members parking badge comes in handy here.
It’s even been used as a music video location by Coldplay for their 2000 hit Yellow.
Distance from South Lytchett – 16 miles via Corfe Castle. 12 miles via Sandbanks and chain ferry.
4 Ringstead Bay
If you’re after a quiet day out a beach then make tracks to Ringstead. Located between Weymouth and Lulworth the free National Trust car park area is at the top of the hill on the ridge. It’s a great spot for picnicking, kite flying and ball games. There is also a car park by the beach which is not National Trust owned.
Take a walk along the cliff tops to the White Nothe and take in the stunning views along to Weymouth and Portland. To get to the beach take one of the steep tracks which will lead to the shingle beach. Keep a look out for the cute wooden chapel of St.Catherine by the Sea nestled in the trees.
Distance from South Lytchett to Ringstead Bay – 20 miles
5 Hod Hill
Hod Hill is a large hill fort with well preserved ditches/ramparts and the remains of a Roman military camp. It offers superb views over the surrounding countryside. As Dorset’s largest hill fort, Hod Hill is renowned for its downland wildlife. Explore the earthworks from both the Roman and Iron Age periods and imagine what it would’ve looked like thousands of years ago.
Overlooking the River Stour, Hod Hill developed into a large Iron Age community consisting of over two hundred round houses. However, when the Romans arrived in the mid-first century AD, the resident Durotriges resisted the conquest and the hill fort was seized. The settlement was disbanded and it was used for a few years as a Roman military base.
Hod Hill is also home to a variety of plants and animals. The thin chalk soils on the steep ramparts are ideal for fine grasses, sedges and flowers and these attract a wealth of butterflies.
Distance from South Lytchett to Hod Hill– 15 miles
6 New Forest Northern Commons
Okay so this one is just outside Dorset! Nevertheless, for an active day out for the family bring them here to the The New Forest Northern Commons which comprises of five commons. Each one is a unique landscape with woodland, heathland, mire and grassland that has been shaped by man since the Bronze Age. Plenty of opportunities for the family to go for scenic walks, a picnic, bike ride and wildlife spotting.
- Foxbury Common. A fascinating landscape of heathland, woodland, wetland, ponds and scrub, benefitting a myriad of specialised wildlife. It’s a fascinating location for learning and field study for all ages.
- Rockford Common. Climb to the top of a hill or simply stroll through wild open landscapes at Rockford Common, after stumbling across extraordinary scenery and spectacular vistas at Ibsley.
- Bramshaw Common. Enjoy the diverse landscapes of Bramshaw, containing some of the best examples of lowland heathland habitats, grazed by ponies, donkeys, pigs, cattle and sheep.
- Hale Purlieu. On the far north-western side of the New Forest, Hale Purlieu is made up of dry and wet heathland, comprising of mires, bogs, scrub and woodland.
- Hightown Common. A small pocket of lowland heathland on the edge of the New Forest boasting stunning views to the south.
Distance from South Lytchett to Rockford Common Car Park – 18 miles
7 Hardy’s Cottage and Max Gate
For Thomas Hardy fans a trip to Dorchester is a must when camping in Dorset. The hometown of the novelist and poet has a statue of him at the top of the high street and a recreation of his writing office has been constructed in the Dorset County Museum using many original items. However the National Trust managed houses of his birthplace Hardy’s Cottage and his home from later in life Max Gate provide the most authentic experience of the life of the famous author.
Hardy’s Cottage was built of cob and thatch by his grandfather and has been little altered since the family left. Despite training as an architect, writing was Hardy’s first love, and it was from here that he wrote several of his early short stories, poetry and novels including ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’ and ‘Far from the Madding Crowd’.
Max Gate was designed by Hardy in 1885. He wanted to show that he was part of the wealthy middle classes of the area, to reflect his position as a successful writer, and to enable him to enter polite society. He wrote some of his most famous novels here, including Tess of the d’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, as well as much of his poetry.
Distance from South Lytchett to Max Gate – 19.5 miles
Distance from South Lytchett to Hardy’s Cottage – 17 miles
8 White Mill
White Mill is a corn mill with original wooden machinery in a peaceful riverside setting. An 18th-century corn mill in a peaceful, rural setting. Rebuilt in 1776 on a site marked in the Domesday Book, this substantial mill was extensively repaired in 1994 and still retains its original elm and applewood machinery (now too fragile to be used). Enjoy a stroll over White Mill bridge or sit in the garden and enjoy the tranquillity of the River Stour. Admission is by guided tour usually at weekends. Last tour is at 4pm.
Distance from South Lytchett to White Mill – 5 miles
9 Clouds Hill
This tiny isolated cottage in the heart of Dorset was the home of an extraordinary man: T. E. Lawrence, better known as Lawrence of Arabia. It is located near the military town of Bovington. He furnished the rooms of his rural retreat to his own personal taste and they are much as he left them, giving an insight into the complex personality of the writer, warrior and friend of Thomas Hardy.
The cottage is much as Lawrence left it. This adds to the authentic experience at the cottage, but some visitors may wish to time their visit to take advantage of the longer, lighter days of summer. As many visitors arrive in the first half hour after opening you may find it quieter after 11.30am.
Distance from South Lytchett to Clouds Hill – 12 miles
10 Cerne Giant
This chalk sculpture of a club-wielding giant is Britain’s largest chalk hill figure standing at 180 feet tall. He is located on a hillside above the village of Cerne Abbas near Dorchester. The origin and age of the figure are unclear. It is often thought of as an ancient construction, though the earliest mention of it dates to the late 17th century.
Local folklore rumours that the giant can be an aid to fertility. Many couples that are struggling to conceive have claimed to have had success after visiting the giant.
Distance from South Lytchett to Cerne Abbas Giant – 23 miles
With Towering sea cliffs and grasslands rich in wild flowers Spyway is a distinctive limestone landscape on the South Coast where sea birds soar and rare orchids hide among rich grasslands. Centuries of stone quarrying have left their mark in the form of sea quarries like Dancing Ledge, popular for both picnics and adventure sports. Such as rock climbing and coasteering in Dorset.
Footpaths and bridleways crisscross farmland marked out with traditional dry stonewalls. The South West Coast Path affords spectacular views of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site as far as Portland.
Distance from South Lytchett to Spyway – 14 miles
12 Kingston Lacey
Kingston Lacey is one of the jewels in the crown of National Trust properties in the area and is one of the best days out in Dorset. The main house is a majestic Italian Palazzo set in thousands of acres of beautifully maintained gardens and grazing pastures.
Why not enjoy a summer picnic on the south lawn or let the children run wild in the nearby play areas. Have a wander around the Japanese Garden, complete with authentic teahouse or take a sheltered walk through the surrounding woodland. You can even learn how to grow your own food in the ‘Community Growing Spaces’.
From Iron Age forts, to colourful heathland, water meadows and even a Roman road, there’s loads to see on the 8,500 acres of estate. Don’t forget to pop into the restaurant to try their tasty cakes and prize-winning scones.
Distance from South Lytchett to Kingston Lacey – 8 miles