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Though not actually an island, the ISLE OF PURBECK – a promontory of low hills and heathland jutting out beyond Poole Harbour – does have an insular and distinctive feel. Reached from the east by the ferry from Sandbanks, at the narrow mouth of Poole Harbour, or by a long and congested landward journey via the bottleneck of Wareham, Purbeck can be a difficult destination to reach, but its villages are immensely pretty, none more so than Corfe Castle, with its majestic ruins. From Swanage, a low-key seaside resort, the Dorset Coast Path provides access to the oily shales of Kimmeridge Bay, the spectacular cove at Lulworth and the much-photographed natural arch of Durdle Door.

The whole coast from Purbeck to Exmouth in Devon – dubbed the Jurassic Coast – is a World Heritage Site on account of its geological significance and fossil remains; walkers can access it along the South West Coast Path.

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