Not really an island though known locally as one because it seems so different to everything else in Dorset, the district of Purbeck is bounded roughly by a line running from the coast west of Durdle Door north through Moreton and Tolpuddle, then east encompassing Bere Regis, Sturminster Marshall and Upton before running south east to cover Hamworthy and Brownsea Island. It contains over 5% of the UK's heathland, significant grass and arable lands and the phenomena of Poole harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world. It is also the starting point for a unique stretch of coastline from Studland to Exmouth in east Devon, now identified as a world heritage site and known as the Jurassic coast.
The two public car parks on the heath road south of Briantspuddle and Affpuddle allow visitors to roam Affpuddle forest by way of clearly identifiable paths. Other forest and heath walks include the Sika Trail and Morden bog in Wareham forest, Higher Hyde heath, Coombe heath, and the Arne peninsular nature reserve. For more open land seek out Hartland moor, Stonehill down and Corfe common, Tadnoll, Winfrith and Townsend and to mix this with the beach try Studland bay. For a difference walk to the ruins of Tynham village when the Army firing range is open to the public or take a picnic and spend the day in the nature reserve on Brownsea Island in the middle of Poole Harbour.
For more information try www.english-nature.org.uk , www.forestry.gov.uk , www.nationaltrust.org.uk or ring the Purbeck Information and Heritage Centre on 01929 552740