The Local Area

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The internationally renowned geology of Purbeck forms the basis of the diverse and often spectacular scenery of the area. Recognised as of great significance and designated by Unesco as a world heritage site, the Jurassic Coast , of which Purbeck forms the eastern end, has a wealth of wildlife and landscape.

Within a small area visitors have access to chalk downland, sandy heathland, tidal marsh, stone cliffs, rocky coves and long sandy beaches with dunes. Each landscape is home to specific wildlife species and an area of heathland in Purbeck has been designated as having the highest density of plant and wildlife species in Britain.

The geology (and consequent wildlife) attracts visitors from around the world and its Unesco classification will lead to an increase in visitor numbers over the next few years. Durlston Castle , south of Swanage overlooks the most important site for mammal fossils in the world.

The castle is within walking distance of California barn with the surrounding Durlston Country Park adjoining the meadows in which the barn lies. The country park is ideal for birdwatching and from its cliffs dolphins are regularly seen following the coastline. Pods of 6-8 dolphins are not unusual and volunteers are now keeping a record of sightings and can recognise specific individuals who regularly return to the area.
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