Last Weekend: Room for more on the Isle of Purbeck

"Burnbake campsite is full," said a woman's voice on the answering machine. "We do not take bookings. We will change the message when pitches become available."

Last weekend marked a couple of significant firsts for my family. We decided to make our first trip to the Isle of Purbeck, the Dorset peninsula to the south of Poole Harbour, a fossil's-throw from the Jurassic Coast. And, for the first time in nine years as a parent, I left my front door with only the vaguest idea of where we'd be spending the night.

We'd been planning a camping trip to mark the end of the half-term week. The weather forecast looked good and we'd set our hearts on Burnbake as a result of a decent write-up in the Cool Camping England guide. It seemed a good location from which to explore the beach resort of Swanage and the sands of Studland Bay, and – more importantly – it promised a selection of secluded woody glades in which we could pitch our tent. But that lady on the answering machine was a bit of a concern. I phoned round some less woody-gladed alternatives, and soon got the message: Dorset was packed to the max, tent-wise – and, no, it didn't take bookings.

Never mind, I thought, as we packed a jumbo-sized tent and two boys into the back of the Volvo. We'd go anyway. After all, the sun was shining and at the very least we'd have a day of sandcastle-building before sleeping under a hedgerow en famille.

Upon reaching Dorset, I ignored the host of "site full" signs leading up to Burnbake, and parked the car rather firmly next to a couple who were packing up their tent. Then we waited, ready to pounce. So what if their pitch was next to the children's playground and the toilet block? The place was heaving with campers, and our quiet woody glade would have to be sacrificed at the altar of expediency.

However, within minutes of building our canvas home and filling it with sleeping bags, it became clear that there were in fact plenty of people leaving. Indeed, woody glades were becoming available all over the place. So, slightly humiliatingly – and much to the bemusement of our children – we unpegged the tent and carried it, semi-erect, 100 yards to the right before re-pitching it in the very woody glade we'd been promised in the brochure.

Accommodation sorted, we spent two days exploring Purbeck itself. Despite the campsite exodus, last Saturday's high temperatures brought plenty of visitors to Studland Bay's Knoll Beach, which swiftly became a jarring clutter of windbreaks and inflatable boats. But brooding Corfe Castle was impressive – and the view of the ruins over lunch at the Scott Arms in nearby Kingston was worth any amount of campsite angst. The high point was a walk from the village of Acton to Seacombe, a stunning amphitheatre quarried from the limestone cliffs, and on to Dancing Ledge, where the children splashed around the rough-hewn swimming pool. We even strayed beyond Purbeck to the croissant-shaped Lulworth Cove, where we found a tiny fossil.

And our woody glade? There's probably room for a few more campers there now, if you fancy it.

Next weekend: pitches at Burnbake (01929 480570; burnbake.com), Rempstone, Corfe Castle, Dorset BH20 5JH cost from £10 per night.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Scunthorpe goalkeeper Sam Slocombe (left) is congratulated by winning penalty taker Miguel Llera (right)
football
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
News
i100
Travel
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum