Nestled in the depths of South Dorset, somewhere between Lulworth and Kimmeridge is Tyneham village. It was evacuated in WW2 for military use and the villagers were promised that they could return once the war had ended. Sadly, this didn’t happen and it’s still owned and used by the Ministry of Defence.
What to expect
I’ve been going to Tyneham for years now and it was something I really wanted to share with Fern. There’s something so special and untouched about the place – it’s far from main roads and has next to no phone signal (which is perfect for a digital detox day). And like most of the walks I go on, there’s usually some good dog watching to be had. It’s the perfect Dorset Day out.
To get to the hidden entrance of the village you have to drive on some quite narrow and winding roads. Depending on which way you’re coming from, there’s a viewpoint at the top of Whiteway Hill that I would definitely recommend pulling into – it’s an incredible view and perfect for some landscape shots. Take care driving into Tyneham from the awkward turning, it’s single file but with plenty of areas to pull in and let other cars pass.
Walking around the peaceful ruins of what was once someone’s home, or visiting the school house where lessons once took place is quite haunting. You can’t help but wonder about how slow life was out here in a very isolated and rural Dorset, and how challenging leaving this all behind must have been. Amongst the empty buildings are signs of wildlife, and colour. In the springtime, the flowers take over and the smell of wild garlic is everywhere (if that’s your thing).
About a 15 minute walk away – if you’re speedy like Fern and I – from the village is the stunning Worbarrow Bay. You should take something warm to put on as it can get very windy out on the exposed coast. If you choose to ignore this advice, don’t say we didn’t warn you!
My favourite time of year for exploring this part of the trip is in Autumn/very early spring when the sea is covered with mist. You can get lost in the blues and the peaceful sound of the waves lapping at the shore. On our last visit I decided to take a brisk walk up Worbarrow Tout (the big hill to the left if you’re looking out to sea) to see what all the fuss was about. The view was worth the walk, and i’m not being melodramatic (okay, maybe a tiny bit…) by saying I felt like I was at the edge of the world. On a side note, wear something more practical than converse on your feet if you’re going to head up the Tout. I found out the hard way after losing my footing and falling flat on my bottom.
Bring your own picnic (BYOP)
On the way back to Tyneham, you can take the signposted short walk through the woods which will bring you back to the village via the main picnic spot. If like us, you need to be fed and watered regularly (nothing beats a good cup of Early Grey IMO) you’ll need to bring your own supplies as there isn’t a shop or café nearby. You can dine “al fresco” either by the ruins – there are plenty of picnic benches dotted about – or back on the pebbled beach. If it’s raining you might have to opt for a car picnic, which Fern and I secretly (or not so secretly) enjoy.
Even though Tyneham is a live firing range it’s open most weekends, but it’s always worth checking when it’s open before heading over.
Visited Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay? We'd love to see what you got up to, so make sure to tag us in any photos @deardorset and use #deardorset!
Good to know…
- £2 parking donation
- Free entry
- BYOP (bring your own picnic)