One of the most interesting places to visit on the Jurassic Coast is the ghost village of Tyneham, which was abandoned in December 1943 to be used for military training – almost 80 years ago!
We last paid a visit to Tyneham in 2018 and the kids loved exploring the abandoned buildings and imagining how the residents would have lived.
This weekend we decided to head back. The first thing that struck me was the drive to it was more hairy than I remember. Poole to Lulworth is straight forward, but the single track country road down to the village was extremely busy, with very few passing spaces. Thankfully my car is fairly compact, but many of the larger vehicles looked like they were struggling.
The car park was packed, but is thankfully large, so we managed to find a parking space.
The village is still part of the Army Ranges, so you must check the website to ensure it is open before you travel, however, access is now allowed most weekends and all public holidays.
You start your visit by walking along ‘The Row’ past the old Telephone Kiosk, where you can wander in the empty shells of the cottages.
There are exhibitions in the old school, the church and barn at Tyneham Farm.
The school is set up like it would have been in 1943, with the students desks filled with information on the wildlife that you would find around the village.
The Church, St Mary’s, dates from the 13th Century and is now managed by the military. It is filled with information about the families that lived in the village before it was evacuated.
As we explored more of the village, which was all open on our last visited, we found it to be fenced off, which was really disappointing.
Across the other side of the carpark is Tyneham Farm. The toilet block is now boarded up, with portaloo style toilets in there place. The old history barn has been turned into a theatre, as it used to used for local performances in the village.
There is also a display of old ammunition on the wall, alongside information about the soldiers who would have trained on the site.
From the barn, you can take a casual 20 minute (1 mile) stroll down to the beach at Worbarrow Bay. If walking with a buggy or wheelchair, it is a fairly flat walk, but quite stoney, so bare this in mind.
The walk is more than worth it though.
There is a small rocky path to negotiate to get down to the shingle beach, but even on bank holiday Sunday, the beach was relatively quiet.
The bay is lovely and sheltered and perfect for a swim. Eliza was in her element with her goggles, looking at the fish swimming in the sea beneath her.
The beach is mostly shingle, with a few sandy patches as you walk along. We had hoped to do some fossil hunting, but it is not the right rock formations. For geology enthusiasts, the cliffs and the tout have distinctive angular layers of rock that visibly demonstrate the complex sedimentary folding that affected this area some 30 million years ago.
The cliffs go from grey to red and purple and then white chalk.
There is quite a large rockfall to the rear of the bay and although we could have walked around a little further, the tide was coming in, so we didn’t risk it.
The walk back to the car definitely feels longer than the walk to the beach and the kids were very relieved to finally get back to the car.
Top Tip: Take your own refreshments. There was a coffee van that sells cold drinks, but no ice cream or food was available. Parking is a voluntary contribution of £2.
Have you visited Tyneham before?