Dorset for families

By Matthew & Faye Gooding / mother_of_five_boys

Is there a time your children won’t enjoy exploring new places with you? Castles and coastlines? I hope not. When I’m asked for advice on how to handle so many boys, my best advice is to get outdoors and explore new places. There is no such thing as a good child, just a tired one! I’ve always loved exploring the English coastline and Dorset definitely doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the best of England’s history, heritage and stunning beaches.

We headed to Dorset from Cornwall for a weekend. It’s about a four-hour drive from Cornwall; we packed up after Matt (dad) finished work on Friday. We have five boys and a puppy so finding a hotel or anywhere to stay is often a mission. Knoll house is right on the beach and is the most dog-friendly hotel I have ever been to. It has its own dog dining room for all the guests that bring their pups and for large families they have interlinking suites, which was perfect for us.

Saturday we set out early to explore Corfe castle. I cannot do this National Trust site justice when describing how incredible it is, other than saying it’s the best castle we have ever visited, and we have visited a lot! Corfe castle really seems to come to life; you can easily imagine how the castle and the surrounding walls looked when first built. The staff also really gave a fantastic experience.

There is a teddy zip-wire from the top of the castle, which makes the walk up really exciting. Even our three-year-old twins made it to the top with teddy in hand, ready to launch them down the long rope to the bottom. The trebuchet had to be my eldest boys’ favourite thing, they loved guessing how far the beach ball filled with water would go when fired by the huge wooden catapult. I would highly recommend it!

There is a small little village as you come out of the castle where you can eat. We opted for the bakery so we could head to Durdle Door beach. I’ve never been to Durdle Door before but have seen it in so many pictures, so I thought it would be a great beach to explore with the boys and Jake, our red-fox-lab puppy. Jake definitely needs a lot of exercise and beaches give him so much freedom to be off his lead and run for miles. The day was overcast but it was still incredibly beautiful.

From the car park there are a few famous beaches to discover along the same coastline. The walk takes-in steep cliff edges and the views are breathtaking. We followed the steep wooden steps down onto Durdle Door beach. The twins managed it down, though we did have to keep them very close as there are lots of open cliff edges. The first part of the beach is mainly stones and the boys set to work hunting for fossils. The tide was in and the sea was rough as it was such a windy day. I can imagine the beach is full in the summer which is why I really love exploring with the boys in the winter as you can let them run free.

The steps seem a lot steeper on the way back up with a three-year-old in the carrier. The twins were exhausted and fell asleep on the way back up to the car. We headed back to our hotel, Knoll House, for a swim before dinner. The pool at the hotel is small and really warm which is perfect when you have little ones – as I quickly gave up on swimming and lounged there, like it was a nice warm bath.

Sunday morning we packed up, took Jake for a walk across the beach opposite the hotel and went for breakfast and a swim before heading home. We loved Dorset. There are so many more places we would love to visit along this coastline so we will definitely be back.

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