The Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve (NNR) is the perfect place for nature lovers and wild adventures!

Spanning 3,331 hectares there’s something for all tastes – from red squirrel spotting to steam train rides!

Take a closer look

The Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve, declared in 2020, is the beating heart of a healthy resilient landscape, with abundant wildlife brimming over and enriching Wild Purbeck.

Bringing together three pre-existing, much smaller areas of national nature reserve, along with the surrounding landscape has now made a bigger, better and more joined up area for the animals, plants and their habitats to thrive.

This land is owned by seven different landowners within the Dorset National Landscape.

Visitor Hubs

Head for one of the 6 visitor hubs across the NNR to start your adventure!

At each hub you’ll find plenty of information on things to do in area, places to visit, ways to connect with nature and local history all in a sustainable way.

Hubs are located at

  • Purbeck Park (Norden) for Corfe Castle, heritage steam train rides and the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum
  • RSPB Arne for heathland trail walks and bird spotting
  • Brownsea Island for tranquil walks and red squirrel sitings
  • The Blue Pool for a unique watery walk and play trail
  • Burnbake Forest lodges & campsite to begin your sporting adventure
  • Knoll Beach, Studland for sand dunes, wildlife and all things beachy

If you’re visiting for the first time, RSPB Arne is recommended. All summer Arne offer a shuttle bus service from Wareham railway station and Purbeck Park (Norden) on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays. As a thank you for using the service the entry fee into the reserve is discounted.

Click on the interactive map here to plan your visit and download a leaflet

Purbeck Heaths NNR Map & Visitor Hub Locations

Car Free days out!

Cycling, walking or catching the Purbeck Breezer bus are excellent ways to explore the landscape, helping to reduce congestion, air pollution and carbon emissions.

Cycle Trails

Bring or hire a bike and explore the area on two-wheels. There are plenty of trails to discover, many off road.

Cycle through forests and the pre-historic Jurassic coast; full of fossils and beautiful carved bays, beaches, cliffs, stacks, arches and landslides.

Click here for some suggestions

Walk a little or a lot

The opportunities for walking in this area are almost endless – you can have a gentle stroll or a whole day hike. Here are some suggestions:

RSPB Arne Shipstal & Coombe Trails – several short or long waymarked routes to follow.

Corfe Common history walk – A moderate circular walk exploring the historic landscape around Corfe Castle.

Studland Beach sand dunes trail – A short family-friendly marked circular trail through the dunes. Look out for the seahorse sculpture, great sea views and wildlife along the way.

A wildlife haven to discover

The NNR is home to tens of thousands of species including many that are rare and threatened. Highlights include:

Reptiles: It is one of the very few landscapes in the UK that is home to all 6 native reptiles, including the sand lizard and smooth snake.

Birds: Iconic heathland birds including breeding nightjar, dartford warbler and woodlark; Raptors including hen harrier, marsh harrier, merlin, hobby and osprey.

Rare native plants including Dorset heath, Marsh gentian, Yellow centaury, Great sundew, Marsh clubmoss, Lesser butterfly orchid.

At least 12 bat species including the rare woodland Barbastelle and Bechstein’s bats.

Insects & butterflies including: Purbeck Mason Wasp & Heath Tiger Beetle; Silver-studded blue & Small Pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies; and Britain’s rarest dragonfly, the Southern Damselfly.

Dorset Food and Drink

Get a taste of the local landscape

Dorset Food & Drink celebrate and support the great tastes of our outstanding landscape and there’s lots to choose from in this area, including cafes, farm shops and bakeries full of delicious goodies for a picnic.

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