Our dogs give us the perfect excuse to holiday at home and explore some the most beautiful holiday hotspots on our doorsteps. One of our favourites is Dorset, which is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. It's also home to one of the most recognisable coastlines we have, the Jurassic Coast.
And so when the opportunity came up for us to visit Burnbake Campsite & Forest Lodges near Corfe Castle and Lulworth Cove in Dorset we jumped at the chance to visit and stay in a forest lodge for a weekend.
We invited Lynsey and Samuel Rayner to visit and report back. Here’s how they got on and what they did when visiting Dorset with their two dogs, Charlie and Bruce.
When asked if we’d like to review one of Burnbake’s dog friendly forest lodges for K9 Magazine, Charlie and Bruce, our four-legged pooches jumped at the chance. With the stress of Christmas over, they – and we – were ready for a holiday!
We browsed Burnbake’s website and social media to get a feel for the location when we were first invited to review and so when we received our confirmation email with check-in and check-out times and a few doggie do’s and don’ts, we were raring to go.
We are quite close, with only a couple of hours to travel, so with our check-in time of between 4-6pm in mind, we took a leisurely drive to Dorset, giving us a chance to make a few stops along the way to stretch our legs and make the Friday journey more interesting.
Our first stop was Exeter. It’s a beautiful city with lots of history. We hopped on the Park and Ride, which welcomes dogs (no extra charge) to make travelling around the city easy.
While in the city we had a walk around some of the hidden gardens which do allow dogs (not all do, so it’s worth checking the signs before entering) and we visited the grounds of the amazing cathedral which is also dog friendly.
After our walk we were all feeling a bit peckish, we wandered past a restaurant called Hubbox where we were welcomed in with the dogs in tow. They even provided bowls of water – which both Charlie and Bruce tried to drink at the same time, obviously!
After lunch, we headed back on the Park and Ride with Charlie safely under the bench seat, as he decided he was a little scared of the bus this time, which earns him lots of ‘awws’ from travellers.
Back in the car, it takes us a little over an hour to get to our next stop, Cerne Abbas, where there’s an ancient Cerne Giant chalked into the side of a hill. As we were passing, it seemed a must. There was only a brief walk to view and the dogs loved it.
Charlie and Bruce (L-R) at Cerne Giant
Our next stop would be Burnbake so we put the address in the sat nav and the closer we got to Corfe Castle, we could see it signposted from the road. It was dark by the time we arrived so the winding forest roads admittedly became a bit disorientating until we spotted the big ‘Welcome’ sign directing us to the reception, where we were greeted by a very friendly lady called Zoe Pattison (the general manager).
Zoe gave us a site map and our keys and asked if we needed any more information such as recommendations for dog walks or dog friendly local restaurants. After a few minutes with Zoe’s guidance, we headed off to find our lodge which would be home until check out on Monday.
After parking up at our lodge (number 16, there are 22 in total), we found we were secluded in our own corner of the campsite.
The lodge in daylight
The heating was already on and the lamps inside the lodge created a warm welcome for us.
As you enter, there are coat hooks to the left and right and a rugged mat for cleaning off muddy boots and paws. Beyond there’s a lovely open plan kitchen, a living room and separate dining room.
Walking through the lodge, there’s a bathroom with a lovely double shower and large sink, followed by a bedroom with two single beds.
At the end of the kitchen, there's a spacious double bedroom with an ensuite. All the beds have white fresh bedding and clean folded towels and each bedroom has lots of built-in storage space.
While we are checking out the space, the dogs headed straight to the doggie welcome box kindly left for their four-legged guests by Zoe and her team at Burnbake. Charlie and Bruce were very excited by this. It’s a very nice touch.
Being in the forest, there’s not a lot of artificial light around so as to keep the experience natural so we use the wind-up torch conveniently hung by the door and unload the car, starting with the dog beds (one of the doggie do’s and don’ts in the confirmation email asked owners to bring dog beds along so dogs don’t use the human beds).
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After feeding the dogs using the lovely bowls and mat provided by Burnbake, I use the blankets provided to cover the sofa just in case the dogs head there for a nap overnight!
Unloading our food we brought along ready for our self-catering holiday, we find Charlie and Bruce aren’t the only ones to receive a welcome box because we also have a lovely fresh loaf of bread on the side and complimentary breakfast in the fridge ready for the morning - milk, eggs, bacon, butter, tea and coffee. All locally sourced produce. This isn’t something all self-catering lodges offer so it was a really nice touch.
Every utensil, cup or sponge you might need you’ll find in the kitchen cupboards so it really is like being at home.
After tea, which we eat at the lovely wooden dining table with views of the forest surrounding us, we read through our welcome brochure which has instructions on all the appliances, cooker, washing machine, dishwasher (with tablets supplied), microwave, underfloor heating and hot tub.
It has lots of useful contacts and recommendations of activities to do, places to visit and restaurants to eat, as well as the Wi-Fi code to use the free Wi-Fi in the lodge as you may find phone signal is limited in the area.
After reading the instruction manual on how to operate the hot tub, we change into our swimwear and head out in the robes and slippers provided for us.
We get in for 20 minutes of relaxation, the time recommended in the welcome manual. With the dark night sky, stars and a full moon it feels like heaven, after this, we head to bed for an early night ready for the day ahead.
After a peaceful night’s sleep surrounded by the quiet and tranquillity of the forest, Charlie woke up first to ask for his breakfast.
Drawing open the curtains, we see a herd of deer playing and grazing in the campsite (which is closed for the winter) just outside of our lodge.
After a refreshing shower in the spacious rainfall shower, we get dressed ready and set out our plan for the day.
There are a few dog friendly attractions nearby, such as the Corfe Castle Model Village and the Blue Pools, which are currently closed due to low season but we remember Zoe last night mentioning Studland Beach being close by.
Dogs are given free roam of the beach during the winter months so we load into the car with the dog towels kindly left in our doggie welcome box and set off on the 20-minute journey to the National Trust Knoll Beach at Studland.
Arriving at the carpark we scan our National Trust card for free parking and head to the beach. Conveniently there are toilets and a large café with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating.
Well behaved dogs are allowed off the lead on the beach at the moment, so we set off along the coastal path to Old Harry Rocks, which is well signposted and very popular as we meet lots of furry friends along the way!
Old Harry Rocks
This walk takes about 45 minutes to an hour and it’s definitely worth it for the spectacular views. We stop for some pictures and the dogs have a drink from our travel bottle before we head back down.
Back in the car we decide to drive the 10 minutes to Swanage where we’re tempted by the smell of fresh local fish and chips at The Fish Plaice, much needed after our long walk. Bruce and Charlie tuck into the treats brought along for them.
Swanage’s seafront has some fantastic, quirky shops. One of which is a café called Love Cake Etc.
Tired from all the sea air, we pop in for a warming hot chocolate before driving the 15 minutes back to our luxury lodge at Burnbakes and head to reception to see Zoe for a recommendation for tea tomorrow night.
She gave us a few suggestions from personal experience because Teddy, her dog, is the site mascot.
After double-checking where we can walk the dogs, which is anywhere behind our lodge and the main campsite, as well as the enclosed area inside two large fields at the front of the reception, we head to our lodge to settle in.
For the first time, we turn on the telly which has a good selection of channels for some Saturday night entertainment, before heading into the hot tub for a 20 minute dip.
The positioning of the lodges means that the views from the many floor to ceiling patio doors and hot tub on the terrace make you feel like you are the only ones in the forest. The sound of the wildlife and peacefulness of the forest allow you to drift off into a relaxing sleep.
Waking up on Sunday morning to sunshine, albeit with a touch of winter crispness to it, we decide to head out for a walk. Bruce and Charlie are desperate to explore, so we decide to drive 30 minutes to Lulworth Cove and walk up the coastal path to the iconic Durdle Door.
Parking here is £4 for two hours or £5 for four hours. The walk takes under two hours as we stop for a picnic lunch looking out to the sea - Charlie and Bruce were happy we brought them carrots today!
Once back down we take a stroll to Lulworth Cove and stop at The Dolls House where we can’t decide between a Cream Tea or Ice Cream so we try both, purely for the sake of the review!
Happy to say they were both very tasty!
Full up from our treats we jump back in the car and drive to the ‘Lost’ village for Tyneham, it is only open at weekends and various holidays through the year as it is managed by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and part of the Lulworth Ranges.
In 1943 the area was needed for military training so the villagers left and were never allowed to return. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Parking is a suggested (a £2 donation) and it’s very dog friendly. There are also various walks from here including Warbarrow Way which can only be accessed by the village.
On the way back to the lodge we stop at Corfe Castle, parking in the National Trust car park. It takes half a mile to walk into the village which is a very old fashioned, quaint village with cottages and tiny doorways.
In the village, you can walk along the bridge and enter the famous Corfe Castle ruins which can be seen from miles around.
Dogs are allowed and Charlie, in particular, loves sniffing around and exploring so this was perfect for him. The views are spectacular of the surrounding villages and the steam railway can be seen clearly. Unfortunately, the steam railway is closed for the season, however, when operating, dogs are welcome to ride the train.
We’re about five minutes from the lodge here so we head back to the peace and quiet of the forest. On Zoe’s recommendation, we have booked a table at The Bankes Arms Hotel in Castle Corfe village for tea.
The log fire is roaring when we arrive and the dogs are heartily welcomed in. I order the Chicken Stir Fry and Sam has the Rump Steak, both are freshly cooked and delicious.
This is our last night here, check out time is 10am the following day.
When our check out time approaches, we pack up the car and head down to reception get ready to check out and head home after a wonderful weekend.
The dogs receive a friendly welcome in reception and are very happy when they are offered a treat. After checking out we are allowed to walk Charlie and Bruce through the forest before driving home. The dogs have a great time running around the secluded forest jumping over the streams and dodging under the branches. It is a perfect ending to an amazing weekend away.
We had a great time at Burnbake Campsite & Forest Lodges. The lodges make a brilliant base for a relaxing dog friendly holiday and the area has so much to explore. We’re already desperate to return.
Many thanks to Zoe and Burnbake for their hospitality. Find out more about their dog friendly holidays in Dorset at www.burnbake.com