Wareham Quayside

Wareham Quayside

A network of public rights of way surround Wareham

A network of public rights of way surround Wareham

In Saxon times Wareham was an important cross-channel port. Its commercial role made it a target for attacks from the Vikings so defensive walls were built around the town. The sea has receded so it is no longer a busy port but you can hire boats for a leisurely row along the River Frome. Wareham is an excellent base for exploring the Purbeck countryside. All around the town is a network of public rights of way taking you through prime birdwatching habitat. Down near the River Frome on South Street you'll find the informative Purbeck Information and Heritage Centre with a whole host of information on Wareham and the surrounding Purbeck countryside as well as guides on local wildlife, history and places to visit.

Boat hire in Wareham

Boat hire in Wareham

Trails & Boat Hire

Wareham has two town walks - the Walls Walk that takes you along the Saxon walls that surround the town on three sides, or the Town Walk which takes you past some of the historic locations in the town including the site of the castle that once stood here. Both walks are clearly signposted around the town and leaflet guides are available from the Purbeck Information and Heritage Centre. See beautiful Wareham from the water and hire rowing boats, kayaks, canoes and even paddle boards from Wareham Boat Hire on the quayside.

St Martin Church in Wareham, one of Dorset's most complete Saxon churches

St Martin Church in Wareham, one of Dorset's most complete Saxon churches

History

Wareham lies between the River Piddle to the north and the River Frome to the south. Around the time that the Stone Age settlers would have lived here the land would have largely been marshland and bog. Successive settlements tamed the landscape with ditches and drains converting the land into more suitable pastureland and meadows interspersed with reedbeds - all of which provided food and resources for making homes or feeding families. The traditional management of this landscape gave rise to water meadows where water levels were controlled by sluices and weirs. Although that traditional management system has largely been abandoned you can find out more about these methods and the rich plant and wildlife that survive in them at Priory Meadow where a circular walk, bird screen and interpretation boards highlight the particular interest of Wareham's water meadows.

Purbeck Information & Heritage Centre

Purbeck Information & Heritage Centre

Town Museum & T E Lawrence

Wareham Museum holds collections relating to the town's history from prehistoric times right up to the present day. Exhibits include pottery that was made in Wareham during the Roman occupation, details of Wareham's role as a port and market town and a range of fossils, rocks and minerals that tell the story of the Jurassic Coast's geology particularly in the Purbeck area. Look out for the cast of a footprint of a dinosaur estimated to be about 150 million years old! Wareham Town Museum is essential visiting for Lawrence enthusiasts. It contains a whole section on Lawrence of Arabia displaying photographs and documents relating to his life both in Dorset and the Middle East. There is also a life-sized effigy of Lawrence in Arabic dress at St Martin Church in Wareham. This was sculpted by war artist Eric Kennington and had been intended for his tomb at St Paul's Cathedral. However, at the time of his death the political unrest meant that they wouldn't accept it and it eventually found a home in this 11th century church.

Wareham centre

Wareham centre

Wildlife Reserves & Forests

Around the coast and rivers of Wareham is a network of protected wildlife sites that spread out into Poole Harbour. The mix of water meadows, grazing marsh and reedbeds provide an excellent habitat for wading birds. Extensive areas of heathlands and wildlife hotspots surround the Purbeck capital, many of which fall into the Dorset Heaths National Nature Reserve which contains Stoborough Heath and Hartland Moor to the south of Wareham. The Dorset Heaths are home to some of Britain's rarest wildlife including sand lizards, adders, grass snakes, common lizards, slow worms, smooth snakes, Dartford warblers and nightjars, as well as all the specialist plant species of heathlands. Arne Reedbeds NNR is an excellent birdwatching reserve over on the Studland peninsula where you'll spot nightjars, Dartford warblers, avocets and hen harriers. North west of Wareham is an extensive area of Forestry Commission conifer plantations. Within these runs the Sika Trail, a walking or cycling trail, that takes you through forest and heathland where you might even spot a Sika or Roe deer. The cycling route is suitable for all ages and abilities.

Where to Stay

Accommodation in and around Wareham includes some charming B&B guest houses in the centre and along the quayside. Attractive cottages also nestle in the Piddle Valley around Wareham, ideal for exploring inland Dorset, the heritage coast at Lulworth and nearby Poole Harbour. You'll also find a selection of all-inclusive, family friendly holiday parks around the town featuring onsite leisure facilities such as fishing, play areas and outdoor swimming pools. Popular attractions nearby include the Bovington Tank Museum just to the west and Corfe Castle to the south.

Accommodation in Wareham

  • Organford   (2.5 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Sleeps 8
    Prices from
    £149
    Per week (seasonal) sleeps 4-8
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 869 reviews
    Rating from 869 reviews
    Family friendly Poole holiday park close to wonderful sandy beaches & the New Forest. Kid's clubs, entertainment, indoor & outdoor pools, Skylite Bar & tennis. Dog friendly.
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  • Stoborough Green   (1.1 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Prices from
    £128
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 495 reviews
    Rating from 495 reviews
    Family owned 67 bedroom hotel offering Standard, Superior and Executive Bedrooms. Ideally positioned for visiting Monkey World, Bovington Tank Museum, Corfe Castle & The Wor...
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    Rating from 495 reviews
  • Wareham   (5.7 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £294
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 4
     
    A very attractive, modernised and converted coach house in a rural setting in the Piddle Valley, 8 miles from Lulworth Cove with excellent walking and riding. Many attractions a...
     
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  • Wareham   (0.3 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £493
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 6
     
    Sympathetically converted, this lovely detached coach house stands within its own large garden, with views over the shared swimming pool from its open-plan living room. It enjoy...
     
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  • Wareham   (0.0 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Prices from
    £85
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 175 reviews
    Rating from 175 reviews
    Ideally situated on Wareham’s crossroads, The Red Lion is at the gateway to the Jurassic Coast. It boasts a traditional English pub and restaurant, along with free Wi-Fi and fre...
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  • Wareham   (5.4 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £420
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 6
     
    5 miles to the coast
     
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  • Wareham   (0.5 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Sleeps 4
    Prices from
    £236
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 4
     
    A semi-detached 50’s style bungalow situated within walking distance of this market town of Saxon origin and of considerable historical interest. An ideal holiday base for explo...
     
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  • Wareham   (5.5 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Prices from
    £207
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    Rating from 63 reviews
    When you stay at Frome Dale in Wareham, you'll be convenient to Monkey World Ape Rescue Center. This 4-star bed & breakfast is within the region of Corfe Castle and Maumbury Rin...
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  • Wareham   (2.8 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Prices from
    £95
    TripAdvisor traveller rating from 285 reviews
    Rating from 285 reviews
    Kemps Country House is situated on the edge of the Purbeck hills, in glorious unspoiled Dorset countryside. Facing south, the guest house overlooks the valley of the Frome and h...
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  • Wareham   (5.5 miles from the centre of Wareham)
    Sleeps 6
    Prices from
    £420
    Per week (seasonal), sleeps 6
     
    Ground floor: Step to living room with inglenook fireplace with range, oak and flagstone floor and beams. Kitchen/dining area with French doors and tiled floor. Utility room. Se...
     
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