Let’s get one thing straight: despite what the ads may be trying to tell you, a staycation is not a UK holiday. A staycation is holidaying at home, in your own house. You don’t live in the whole of the UK.
I really dislike how the word’s been adopted to refer to any UK-based holiday. It’s as if a failure to go abroad was some kind of great tragedy, and somehow a bit lesser and not really a proper holiday at all.
Anyway. However you holiday in this strange year, staycation or not, make the most of it. Just because you’re staying in the country you live in doesn’t mean it’s not a ‘proper’ break.
Yes I did have a lovely time on my holiday, thank you for asking. I went a couple of hours up the road to the beautiful Corfe Castle in Dorset.
Corfe Castle is both a village and a ruined castle, dating back to the 10th Century. It’s now managed by the National Trust and very easy to visit whilst maintaining social distancing. Just remember to book tickets in advance for a timed slot.
The area is very closely associated with Enid Blyton, who used to holiday here several times a year for over 20 years. If you’ve ever read an Enid Blyton book or fancied yourself as the long lost member of the Famous Five, you’ll know what to expect. Adventures and picnics, basically. Lashings of ginger beer optional.
We stayed in a cottage in Corfe Castle village. Staying in the village means you can take a walk around the castle (with the goats) any time you like, or sit in one of the local pubs and watch the sun go down over the ruins.
The Blue Pool
My favourite daytrip was to The Blue Pool, a few miles away from Corfe Castle near Wareham. The water contains very fine clay which diffracts the light in different ways, meaning that the pool shimmers from azure to turquiose.
It’s surrounded by 25 acres of heath (and a fairy trail through the woods) so you can walk around the water and dream that this year is, well, just a dream.
Durdle Door and friends
Another thing to do when you’re in the Corfe Castle area is visit somewhere with a daft place name. Now, I have form for this. I once bought a jar of curry sauce in North Curry and a pint of the landlord’s finest in Beer. I like to honour anywhere with a daft name.
It was for this reason, that my family refused to take a detour to the Dorset village of Shitterton. Party poopers. Though we did make it to Scratchy Bottom, so that was a relief.
You’ll pass Scratchy Bottom on your way to the beautiful beach of Durdle Door. Yes it was busy but not crazily so. That came later.
Corfe Castle Model Village
We also enjoyed exploring the Corfe Castle Model Village. Tickets to this place are valid for a week, so it’s worth going at the start of your trip.
It’s a cute little place – part mini-creation of the Corfe Castle village, part tea room and part fairy garden. You can find all sorts of stuff rambling around the grounds.
I mean, it’s a little bit nuts, but I have a high tolerance for nuts.
The end of the week saw us visiting Lulworth Castle, which just looks so tremendously castley, doesn’t it?
You can visit the house, which is normally used for fancy weddings but I guess that’s on hold for now. The grounds are a good place for a wander and a picnic.
Coronavirus and the Corfe Castle area
All in all I found that Dorset was busy, but not ridiculously so, apart from Knoll Beach in Studland Bay, which was so crazily crowded that we took one look at it and left.
Not many people were wearing masks, apart from in shops. All of the attractions, pubs and other locations we visited were doing their best to maintain social distancing, even when their visitors weren’t. The weather was superb, so we were outdoors a lot and it all felt quite safe and peaceful. After many months of being cooped up in the city, it was good to see the sky from a different angle.