So many of our idyllic villages are spoilt by the omnipresent car. Corfe Castle in the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty suffers more than most.
The main A351 from Poole to Swanage passes through the village. We visited in September when the main tourist rush had passed. Even so it was frustrating and unpleasant always having to compete with traffic as we walked through the village. There isn’t a footway on both sides of the road and you have to cross to and fro.
The speed limit is not enforced. However, I was glad to see that illegal parking on yellow lines is enforced by Dorset County Council.
Sir Frederick Treves, writing in Highways and Byways in Dorset in 1906 said of the town: It is a wrinkled old place in the winter of its age, lying at the foot of its Castle like a faithful hound.
Its three little streets lead humbly to the Castle gate. The keep rises high above the village, and looks down upon it as a sacred image would regard an adoring worshipper. The small town has ever been dependent upon the Castle, and is dependent on it still, for it brings to the place hungry tourists in char-a-bancs, with their holiday money in their pockets.
The fabric of the village has changed little since then, but the traffic has increased massively. There are alternatives to private transport. The steam train travels regularly on the six-mile route between the Norden park-and-ride and Swanage, and there is also a reasonable bus service.
The park-and-ride, run by Purbeck District Council, is well-placed away from the village. There is also a large National Trust car-park (the trust owns the castle and much of the village) which is sited below the castle, with a choice of two footpaths, off the road, to get you into the village and to the castle. So the local authorities and the trust have made an effort to reduce traffic.
But what is needed is a strictly-enforced, 20-mph speed limit in the town, with bumps and chicanes to reinforce this. Corfe Castle is a magnificent, timeless place—let’s keep it that way.
Postscript: Since posting this I’ve had some useful comments (below and via twitter). Dorset AONB advocates its Traffic in Villages Toolkit which looks an excellent document. It would be great if Corfe Castle could apply these principles.