There’s so much to enjoy in and around Wareham for visitors and holidaymakers. Don’t miss the ancient Saxon walls, or the beautiful riverside walks. And if you’re still looking for some more fun activities in Wareham then we have lots of ideas for you in our guide below…
Walks close by Wareham...
A unique opportunity to walk along ancient Saxon walls…
Wareham is famous for the monumental Saxon defensive walls which surround the town. The walls stretch around three sides of the town with the river on the south side and are the best examples of Saxon Walls in the country!
Today the walls are large grassy covered earth mounds which make a very pleasant walk around the town. There are good views of the rivers and surrounding countryside. The walls have also been conserved wildlife with some grassy areas left uncut for the encouragement of wildflowers. The footpaths are always kept well maintained.
Look out for…
The middle section of the West Walls known as the ‘Bloody bank’, named after the executions that took place there as a result of the Monmouth Rebellion in the 17th century. Read our history of Wareham during the Monmouth Rebellion.
The view over Wareham common and the River piddle on the North Walls leading towards North Mill. A mill was first recorded here in 1150 and was last used in the 19th century!
The Bowling Green on the north /east section of the walls. Nobody really knows what this small rectangular area, bounded by low banks was used for. There is a theory that it could have been used for archery practice during the 15th or 16th centuries. By 1746 it was being called the ‘Bowling Green Garden.’ The area was also sometimes used for town fairs.
The East Wall overlooks an area known as ‘Bestwall’. This area is where an archaeological dig uncovered Wareham’s first settlers. Read our page on Prehistoric Wareham and the Bestwall Dig.
At the end of Bell’s Orchard lane you will see the ancient pathway which cuts through the walls, which led down to Poole harbour’s edge.
The walk is easily accessed from the Streche Road Car park. It takes around 45 minutes and is well signposted with a number of interesting information boards, located which tell the story of Wareham and its walls.
River Frome walk from Wareham Quay
Wareham is nestled in between the River Frome and the River Piddle which flow through Wareham on their way to Poole Harbour, one of the largest natural harbours in the world. The result is that Wareham’s surrounding riverside and water meadows are areas of outstanding beauty than are really worth exploring.
One of Warehams most popular riverside walks and part of the Purbeck Way…
River Frome walk from Wareham Quay to Redclyffe
Location: The footpath can be accessed over the bridge, opposite the Quay.
The River Frome is one of the most westerly chalk rivers in England and an important breeding for river for Salmon, as well as an attraction for a number of waterbirds and other wildlife. The name ‘Frome’ is an old Celtic river name, first used in the 9th century and probably means ‘fine’ or ‘fair’.
This is one of Warehams most popular riverside walks and part of the Purbeck Way – recognised as an area of ‘Outstanding Natural Beauty.’ The walk is only a 10 – 15 minutes stroll each way and takes you down towards Redclyffe and Ridge.
There are some stunning views of Wareham, overlooking the Priory Hotel gardens and the Priory Church of Lady St Mary. Towards the end of the riverside path you can enjoy looking at the variety of boats moored near the Redclyffe Yacht Club. The Yacht Club was founded in 1933 by Percy F. Westerman, a prolific author of children’s adventure stories. He lived on a barge near the current clubhouse. The pathway is well maintained (can be muddy in the winter) and has some interesting information boards along the route.
Free fishing is available from the town bridge downstream to the marina, with the majority of the fishing on the south bank. Free fishing is also from the Quay car park area on the north bank, by the bridge. This popular spot is well known for catching roach, winter pike, carp, perch and grayling, as well as salmon, trout, mullet, flounder, bass and others.
Only a Rod Licence is required. To reduce the risk to fish while they’re spawning, the traditional close season operates here 15th March to the 15th June. Wessex bye-laws also apply. Enquiries: Purbeck Angling shop, South Street – Tel. 01929 550 770.
Alternative Frome walk on opposite bank…
There is also a marked footpath accessed at the bottom of the graveyard of the Priory Church of St Mary, on the opposite side of the bank. This pathway is not so well maintained and can often be overgrown. Some areas have been laid with planks and wooden walkways. It can be very muddy in winter.
Take the Piddle !
The word ‘Piddle’ comes from the Saxon word word – ‘pidelle’ – which means ‘marsh’ or ‘boggy ground’…
The River Piddle comes from an old English word which means ‘marsh’ or ‘fen’, dating back to at least the 10th century.
A very pretty countryside walk along the River Piddle can be accessed from the North walls. Take the path down to the North Mill near to the North end of Mill Lane. This path takes you to Wareham Common where cattle or ponies can often be found grazing.
Follow the pathway, past the meadow and take the gate next to the river, under the bridge. You will then come to a very pretty area where the river is very shallow, popular for picnics and paddling in the river. There’s also quite a good chance that you’ll see swans floating lazily along, and if you’re really lucky you may see the iridescent blue flash of a Kingfisher! There is an information board by the gate at the end of the field. You can also walk past the farmhouse to the bridge, where you can watch the rushing water of the Weir at Westmill. There are further walks and pathways under the railway bridge.
A good map of this riverside pathway can be found in the Dorset Council, called ‘Two Rivers Walks’. There are two walking options of 1.5 and 4 hours. The short walks takes you along Wareham Common and the long includes some of the walls as well as Bestwall Park, Wareham Meadows and Swineham. Bestwall Park is the site of a former gravel pit which has been filled in to create a lake. The site is also notable for the important archaeological finds here. Both Bestwall Park and Wareham Meadows are an important wetland conservation area that is very popular with birdwatchers.
The Two Rivers Walk map can be downloaded for free from the Dorset Council Website.
Make a splash on the river !
From Abbotts Quay to Poole...
Take a trip on the river or hire a boat…
Wareham has plenty to offer whether you want to relax on a boat up steam, take a trip to Poole Harbour, or have some fun boating or paddle boarding yourself.
Throughout the year Greenslade offers a special return cruise to Wareham from Poole Quay, along the Frome river. During the warmer months (April to September) Brownsea Island Ferries offers a morning cruise to Wareham from Poole on board one of their distinctive yellow boats. City Cruises Poole also offer a relaxing and tranquil cruise up the River Frome from Poole Quay; their cruises take place in the evening and run from April to the end of August. Another Poole based boat company is the Friends of Dolphin that uniquely provides free trips for disabled persons of all ages and disabilities.
For those already in Wareham just looking for a trip up and down the River Frome to take in all there is to see, then Wareham River Cruises is the main choice. Take a 40 minute trip from the Quay on their 12-seater Admiralty Whaler ‘Orca’ from 1st April until the 30th of September.
For a special treat, book a private trips on the Monarch paddle steamer from Wareham quay. The Monarch is a unique steam driven paddle steamer, one of only three running in Britain.
More information and details on all these trips can be found on our ‘Getting to Wareham’ page.
If you are looking for something more adventurous then cross over the road to Abbots Quay to Wareham Boat Hire. Here you can hire motor boats, kayaks, canoes, stand up paddle boards, rowing boats and much more.
Redclyffe Yacht Club
The club welcomes visitors during the boating season, and although they have no dedicated visitors’ buoys then will try and find a vacant berth if available. More details can be found on our Redcliffe Yacht Club website.
Places to visit in town...
Try a little retail therapy !
Wareham still retains a traditional high street filled with independent interesting shops and boutiques…
Today, Wareham has an impressive array of independent shops, boutiques and galleries, and there’s even a supermarket or two. Nearly all are to be found on the four main streets, though nowadays most are on South and North Street. Check out our guide to Shopping in Wareham for more ideas.
The Market on the Quay
Market day is Saturday – it’s a great opportunity to pick up some delicious locally made food and fresh produce along with gifts, souvenirs and collectables. It takes place from 8.00 am on the Quay.
Corn Exchange at Wareham Town Hall, East street, on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month: 9.00 am – 1.00 pm. Look out for the fresh produce direct from the supplier, including the divine Dorset Blue Vinny cheese, scrumptious Dorset Apple Cakes and locally produced chutneys and jams.
Home Producers Market
The popular market takes place on Thursday mornings between 8.30 and 11.00 am in the large hall at the United Reformed Church on Church Street. Make an early start and grab yourself some nice homemade cakes or pots of jam or fresh veg from local gardens!
The Rex Cinema Wareham
The Rex has been showing films since the 1920’s, it is one of the oldest cinemas in the UK…
Originally built in 1899 as the Odd fellows Hall for entertainment and theatre, and it is possible that visiting Bioscope shows were presented prior to World War 1. It was converted to a cinema in 1920, and named the ‘Empire’.
Recently refurbished The Rex has maintained its 1920’s Art Deco interior as well as original gas light fittings. In fact The Rex was the last cinema in the country to use gas lighting! Today the cinema has 125 seats and space for one wheel chair. With the latest up to date digital projection and Dolby stereo sound system.
For an interesting read of the history of The Rex: Bournemouth Echo: ‘Rex Cinema in Wareham seeks your memories’.
A much loved local cinema!
Managing to survive as an small independent cinema The Rex is a much loved community cinema run by volunteers.
A great bonus for cinema lovers is the Rex’s bar where you can buy a glass of wine or beer and take it to the auditorium to enjoy whilst you watch the film! The Rex is now among the few cinemas in the UK where it is possible to do this.
Delicious locally made luxury Purbeck Ice creams are sold in the auditorium before the film begins.
Even the adverts are fun! Make sure you get there early to enjoy the unique and entertaining claymation local advertisements made by Projectionist Dougal Dixon.
The cinema boasts a full programme of recently released movies as well as live streaming of theatre, ballet and opera. In keeping with a historical, community cinema there are also special screenings of classic films, special events such as the Purbeck Film Festival and events hosted by guests from the film industry.
Book online. You can book your tickets online or on the door. Ticket prices are very good – only £7.00 adult / 5.50 child / student / concessions.
There are usually matinee shows as well as evening ones. For the latest movie times see our regularly updated What’s On listings for Visit Wareham.
Wareham Town Museum
A small but well packed museum…
An interesting local museum located in the heart of Wareham on East Street by the main traffic lights and the Town Hall.
It tells the story of Wareham from prehistoric times until the present day. Exhibits include Geology including Dinosaur fossils found near Wareham. Archaeology including local Iron Age and Roman artefacts. A replica of Wareham’s Saxon sword, the story of Wareham’s history as a port and market town, Sandford Pottery, Cordite Factory at Holton Heath, and Wareham in World War One.
Entrance Price: Free!
Opening : Now open Wednesdays to Saturdays each week between 10 am and 4 pm.
They are asking visitors to wear masks whilst in the museum and to use the hand sanitiser on arrival. Currently restricting numbers to 6 visitors (or 2 households), you may be asked to return later if they are busy.
For up to date services dates and times see Wareham Town Museum website.