Durlston Country Park is a 1.13 square kilometre (280-acre) country park and nature reserve stretching along the coast of the Isle of Purbeck at Durlston near Swanage in Dorset, England. The Park, which is part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, has been owned by Dorset County Council since the early 1970s and is mostly open access.
In 1887 George Burt, local constructor and business man who used to own Durlston estate, built a small ‘castle’ at Durlston Head, on the hill above Durlston Bay and the town of Swanage. The Durlston Castle was never a real castle, but was purpose-built to be used as a restaurant for his estate.
Burt also commissioned a 40-ton limestone Globe, three metres in diameter, engraved with an 1880s world map. The footpaths around the Castle and Globe are lined with cast iron London bollards which were left in Swanage having been used as ballast by the ships transporting stone to London. Other ornaments include plaques carved with quotations from Shakespeare and the Bible, maps showing the English Channel and the United Kingdom, and facts about the natural world.
In the 19th and 20th centuries Purbeck was quarried for its high-quality limestone. There were few open-cast quarries, and none in Durlston, but there are many mine shafts across the landscape, notably Tilly Whim Caves in a dry glacial meltwater valley.
Most of the Park is designated Site of Special Scientific Interest and since 1997, a Special Area of Conservation. The majority is also designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance.
Durlston Country Park is one of the most inspiring places for photography in Dorset.