If you live in the south of the UK and consider yourself a half decent photographer you will, most likely, have already seen some amazing landscape photography of Corfe Castle.
Situated on a hill that punctuates The Purbeck Ridgeway that runs east to west through the Isle Of Purbeck, this castle was destroyed in the English Civil War. It’s owned by the National Trust and so is the land surrounding it. Be aware if this if you are planning on some drone photography as they are banned on their land.
For most people getting there by car they will arrive via Wareham along the A351 and this brings you into the town with the Castle View Visitor Centre on the left. There is also more parking if you carry on and take the next right. It is busy in the summer and parking can be difficult although I did notice it was significantly easier at sunrise and sunset which, of course, is when you will be wanting to shoot the castle.
It’s easy enough to get to West Hill from either of these car parks, look for the sheltered path opposite the visitor centre, but to get to the east side requires a longer walk. Whether you are there for sunrise or sunset and want the sun in the background or behind you will determine which side you need to go to.
Due to the nature of the Purbeck Ridgeway and the Isle of Purbeck itself there tends to be regular occurrences of mist and fog and this can create awesome vistas of the castle. It’s the landscape photographer’s dream to have such an iconic and photogenic venue perched on a hill with elevated vantage points either side. Add the mist, fog and unhindered views to the horizon you really have an epic photograph opportunity. From West Hill you can see right over to Poole Harbour and just as far in any other direction.
The temptation is to go the top of the hill but there are composition friendly vantage points lower down the hill too. Look out also for the Swanage Railway steam trains that run close to the castle. Time it right and you can add an extra element to your shot. You would think that this site would be littered with tripods but not to my experience.
Lenses. For decent landscape photography at Corfe Castle you will definitely want 24-70 and 70-200 or equivalent. Wider than can be useful if you going to want a lot of the sky in. In terms of filters graduated NDs are more prevalent than polarisers. Take the sturdiest tripod you got as it can get windy up those hills. Bare that in mind also if you going in winter in terms of clothing, gloves, tea etc.
If you live within a hour’s drive than I would say definitely. Apply the usual rules – try to avoid weekends, check weather forecasts and get there in good time for day/night transition. Even if you are unlucky with the light it’s still an interesting place to spend the day/evening. The Purbeck Ridgeway provides such great vantage points. There’s much more here than just landscape photography of Corfe Castle.
You can see my recent visit to the Corfe in my YouTube video https://youtu.be/JPcYTNPYGpM