Enid Blyton absolutely loved her holidays in Dorset, particularly the Isle of Purbeck, and visited three times a year for over 20 years. Some of her best known children's books were inspired by the real places and people she met in Dorset.
Spend 72 hours in the Isle of Purbeck and have a jolly good time, just like the Famous Five did. You can also follow the Enid Blyton Trail which includes more places to visit in the area.
Climb aboard the Swanage Railway, then sit back and relax during a leisurely trip behind a historic steam locomotive to the pretty seaside town of Swanage.
The 12 mile return trip takes you through the beautiful Purbeck countryside and includes stunning views of the iconic remains of William the Conqueror's Corfe Castle. This is the exact train journey which Enid Blyton would have taken with her family while visiting the area in the 1950's and 60's.
© Diana Jarvis
The traditional Victorian seaside resort of Swanage makes a perfect morning out; stroll along the promenade and restored pier, wander around the art galleries and boutique gift shops or take a boat trip along the coast with City Cruises. Swanage has one pier less than it did in the Blyton heyday, when she and her husband Kenneth, used to swim round both piers before supper.
On your return trip on the Railway, stop off at Corfe Castle, said to be the inspiration for “Kirrin Castle” in Enid’s Famous Five books. It was first mentioned in ‘Five on a Treasure Island’ where gold is discovered hidden in Kirrin Castles dungeons.
The iconic castle ruin (now owned by the National Trust) was once one of the county’s great strongholds until betrayal from within led to its downfall.
As well as paying a visit to the castle, the village itself is one of the prettiest in Dorset and a great spot for a cream tea.
Catch a ferry from Poole and take a trip to the mysterious Whispering Island (Brownsea Island) which is owned by the National Trust and is the largest island in Poole harbour. In Enid Blyton's time, Brownsea Island was owned by the very reclusive Mrs Bonham-Christie, who would not tolerate visitors and allowed the island to return to nature. In ‘Five Have a Mystery to Solve’, Enid described it as “Keep Away Island”.
© National Trust and John Miller
Brownsea is the home of the endangered red squirrel and is a nature lover's paradise; take advantage of the various walking trails and stroll around the island to uncover hidden beaches, foraging deer and an impressive variety of wading birds.
Don't forget to pack a picnic of Ginger Beer and corned beef sandwiches to enjoy along the way!
Set off for a tranquil few hours at The Blue Pool - described in the Famous Five book ‘Five Go Off in a Caravan’ as “An enormous blue lake that lay glittering in the August sunshine”. The Pool is less blue these days, but doesn't that description just want to make you go and visit it for yourself!
Set within the Furzebrook Estate, the Blue Pool is also home to Blue Pool Tea Rooms – a teahouse dating from 1935 which remains in a vintage style. Perfect for lunch or a cream tea.
© The Blue Pool
Spend the afternoon or early evening at Kimmeridge Bay.
In the Famous Five book ‘Five Fall into Adventure’, the children take a picnic down to the sea “Where rocks jutted up from the beach, surrounded by limpid rock pools”. This is undoubtedly Kimmeridge Bay which is one of the best places to go rock-pooling in Dorset.
Later in the book, the children row a boat around the coastline until they see ”a high cliff” on top of which was a “dour, grey stone building….. a little like a castle. It brooded over the sea with one square tower overlooking the waves.” The building is thought to have been inspired by Clavell Tower – built in 1831 as a folly and which is now holiday accommodation with amazing views over Kimmeridge Bay.
© W Sweeney/The Landmark Trust
Where to Stay
Enid Blyton and her family used to stay at The Grand Hotel in Swanage and The Knoll House Hotel in Studland. You can find other places to stay in the accommodation section of our website.
The Grand Hotel in Swanage has stunning panoramic views across Swanage Bay and direct access from the hotel gardens to the private beach. Enid Blyton stayed at the hotel between 1952 and 1960. You can enjoy lunch or dinner in their Coast Restaurant or have a drink in their bar and enjoy the fantastic sea views.
Enid used to stay at Knoll House Hotel for several weeks in the spring and summer throughout the 1960s. She and her husband Kenneth always occupied room 40 with its view across the bay. In the dining room they religiously sat at table 3 - Enid would face south with a view of Old Harry Rocks while Kenneth saw views towards Bournemouth. There is a collection of memorabilia and artefacts around the hotel, including letters from Blyton, highlighting her much loved relationship with Knoll House.
Visit the vibrant market town of Wareham
England’s second favourite country park, Durlston Country Park is situated near Swanage.
Follow the fascinating story of the majestic Lulworth Castle an early 17th-century mock castle.
2 of Dorset’s best loved attractions, Monkey World and the Tank Museum.
Explore the abandoned war village of Tyneham (open most weekends).
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