Ultimate Guide To All National Trust Places To Visit In Dorset

Annabelle Beaumont
Feb 29, 2024 By Annabelle Beaumont
Originally Published on Jun 30, 2020
Happy people enjoying life.
Age: 0-99
Read time: 6.2 Min

Dorset is a beautiful county, with a wide variety of National Trust attractions that we think are must-see.

If you're wanting a day out with the kids or to meet a relative for a social distance walk in Dorset, you should really consider visiting one of these beauty-spots.

The county has everything from an island, ancient coasts and hidden gems - to a castle, cottages and an Italian inspired palace. There's something for every member of the family to enjoy, and you may be able to cover a couple of them in a day.

While most attractions from the National Trust in Dorset are shut, they have announced on their website that they're reopening the places you love, gradually, safely and in step with government advice - starting with their coast and countryside car parks. Their houses, gardens and parklands remain closed for now, in line with the rules, and updates on these attractions can be found on their website. However, we know that once lockdown sanctions lift further, these outdoor attractions will be popular with families across the south wanting to make the most of the summer. So, read on to plan your trip to one of these Dorset National Trust properties this summer.

Kingston Lacy

Kingston Lacy is a lavish historic home re-imagined as a Venetian Palace in the rural Dorset countryside. There's plenty to see, from rich, beautifully detailed carvings, to intimate souvenirs and even strange curiosities such as an 'I owe you' note from a king. It's an art lover's dream, while also providing a good day out for the whole family, as you can enjoy a summer picnic on the south lawn or let the children run wild in the nearby play areas.

Where? Wimborne Minster, Dorset, BH21 4EA

Closest train station? Poole, 8.5 miles away

Why visit? They are currently doing refurbishments on the property, which they are appealing to the public for help with. This could be a great project to get older kids involved with.

Amenities and important information: Dogs are welcome on a short lead due to livestock grazing. There is a baby changing room on site.

Clouds Hill

This was once the rural home retreat of T. E. Lawrence (better known as Lawrence of Arabia) - in the form of a tiny isolated cottage in the heart of Dorset. Lawrence's furnishings have stayed as he left them, for the most part, so see what your kids think of his interior design. There is low lighting and rules to follow to preserve the ancient cottage.

Where? King George V Road, Bovington, near Wareham, BH20 7NQ

Closest train station? Wool, 3.5 miles away

Why visit? It is an authentic and unique place that young kids would find fascinating, as the house has been preserved to feel like a real-life museum.

Amenities and important information: The cottage is accessed from the car park via a flat 90-yard footpath. Light levels in the cottage are low, which may not suit some visitors. There are refreshments available for donation only.

Pepperbox Hill

Pepperbox Hill is an ancient chalk ridge landmark with far-reaching views and rich in natural history and heritage. Pepperbox Hill is one of the rare places in the UK that includes an early brick folly example. Believed to have been built by Giles Eyre of Brickworth House, the use is under debate. The surrounding grounds are supporting several rare or uncommon species including orchids, juniper and rare butterflies.

Where? Pepperbox Hill, SP5 3QL

Closest train station? West Dean, 5 miles away

Why visit? It's a great educational trip out for young children interested in wildlife, as there are information points dotted around - detailing the vast array of wildlife you can see there.

Amenities and important information: Plenty of space to enjoy a picnic if you bring your own rug and take away rubbish. Dogs and bikes are also welcome but are asked to be kept under control as cattle graze the site. The ground is somewhat level along the brow of the hill, meaning it is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs.

Corfe Castle

One of the most popular and famous of Dorset's attractions is this thousand-year-old royal castle shaped by warfare; not just Dorset's, but one of Britain's most iconic and evocative survivors of the English Civil War. A favourite haunt for adults and children to visit, with incredibly beautiful views across Purbeck, and a fascinating history to discover.

Where? The Square, Corfe Castle, Wareham, BH20 5EZ

Closest train station? Wareham, 4.5 miles away

Why visit? There are lots of activities that can be set up for young visitors such as so that they can genuinely feel history come to life while appreciating the wildlife that has set up home here. Can you find the 'murder holes' and arrow slits?

Amenities and important information: Suitable for school groups. Dogs are welcome on a short lead. There are many information points available. Picnics are welcomed. There is a campsite, a shop with locally made gifts and a tearoom.

Win Green

This National Trust area is a prominent landmark with incredible views. It is the highest point in the Cranborne Chase, meaning it provides panoramic views from the Isle of Wight and Purbeck Hills to Blackmore Vale and Salisbury Plain. Win Green is surrounding by beautiful beech trees growing in a circle - with a distinctive ridge around the edge, and this stunning sight can be seen for miles.

Where? Donhead Hollow, Near Ludwell, SP7 0ES

Closest train station? Gillingham Station, 9 miles away

Why visit? The trust recommends this area for kite flying, as the ridge can get quite windy. Otherwise, it is just a great place to explore on foot or by mountain bike if you're not afraid to cycle uphill!

Amenities and important information: The site is wheelchair accessible, and their car parks are currently open.

Two young brothers with natural red hair playing together.

Hardy Monument

A monument to Vice-Admiral Hardy, it stands on an exposed hill above the village of Portesham in Dorset. Built in 1844 in memory of the Battle of Trafalgar, it was taken over by the National Trust in 1938. It was restored in 2011, so should still be around for hundreds of years to come, as well as for your visit.

Where? Black Down, Portesham, Dorset, DT2 9HY

Closest train station? Dorchester, 6.5 miles away

Why visit? A great place to walk to with more stunning views over the county, this monument would attract older kids who would appreciate the complex history behind the space.

Amenities and important information: Minimal amenities due to the remote and preserved nature of the site. There are no toilets, changing rooms, wheelchair or pushchair access routes.

Cerne Giant

An ancient naked figure sculpted into the chalk hillside above Cerne Abbas, standing at 180ft tall, Britain's largest chalk hill figure. The history of the Cerne Giant is muddied, but appears to be from the Iron Age, and is still used for May Day celebrations today.

Where? Cerne Abbas, Dorset, DT2 7AL

Closest train station? Maiden Newton, 6 miles away

Why visit? There is lots of nature to see along the way, and once you reach the giant, it really is an amazingly unique sight to behold.

Amenities and important information: Dogs are welcome on leads, there are information points, and free parking too (also parking for coaches). It is described as a gentle stroll along footpaths, so would be suitable for pushchairs.

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Written by Annabelle Beaumont

Bachelor's degree specializing in Interior and Spatial Design

Annabelle Beaumont picture

Annabelle BeaumontBachelor's degree specializing in Interior and Spatial Design

With a childhood spent traveling and exploring, Annabelle moved to Bahrain at 13 and then to London at 19 to attend Chelsea College of Arts, UAL to study Interior and Spatial Design. She has a passion for all things creative, particularly recycling materials. Outside of art, Annabelle enjoys walking her dogs and cooking for loved ones.

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