TRAVEL

The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

SO be­gins Enid Bly­ton’s first Fa­mous Five ad­ven­ture, Five on a Trea­sure Is­land, which was pub­lished 75 years ago this month and set in Bly­ton’s adopted home, Isle of Purbeck in Dorset. With Corn­wall off the cards, Ju­lian, Dick and Anne’s par­ents pack them off to Aunt Fanny, Un­cle Quentin and their “lonely” cousin Ge­orgina, in Kir­rin Bay. As many fam­i­lies – in­clud­ing my own – love do­ing, they leave the crowded city streets be­hind and soon see the “shin­ing blue sea, calm and smooth in the evening sun”.

Purbeck’s not re­ally an isle, more a penin­sula, sur­rounded by wa­ter on three sides, with the is­land-dot­ted Poole Har­bour to the north, the sea­side town of Swan­age (where Bly­ton used to stay in the Grand Ho­tel in the 1950s) to the east, and the se­cluded coves and bays of Dorset’s Juras­sic Coast to the south.

Bly­ton was born in Lon­don on Au­gust 11, 1897, and her main home from the late 1930s was Green Hedges (named by her read­ers in a com­pe­ti­tion) in Bea­cons­field, a Lon­don com­muter town bor­der­ing the Chiltern Hills, but she had a love af­fair with Purbeck and spent three hol­i­days there ev­ery year for more than two decades, even buy­ing the Isle of Purbeck Golf Club with her hus­band Ken­neth in 1950.

With its green hills rolling like sleep­ing dragons, dra­matic cliffs and the ru­ins of Corfe Cas­tle at its heart, it’s easy to see why she kept com­ing back and mined the area for her chil­dren’s books.

We take a pic­turesque ride in the Pull­man Ob­ser­va­tion Car, right be­hind the en­gine on the im­pec­ca­bly kept Swan­age Rail­way steam train from Swan­age to Corfe Cas­tle.

Bly­ton did just that in 1941, ar­riv­ing at what she turned into Kir­rin Cas­tle, on Kir­rin Is­land, owned by Ge­orge’s fam­ily, where the cousins and Timmy the dog dis­cover gold in the dun­geon in Five on a Trea­sure Is­land.

There may not be any gold bul­lion for us to find, but our three-year-old son en­joys hunt­ing for the six shields that are hid­den around the 11th cen­tury ru­ins, and an­swer­ing ques­tions from the facts writ­ten on each that will re­ward him with a rub­ber Corfe Cas­tle wrist­band.

A short drive from the cas­tle is Blue Pool, a for­mer clay pit that’s nat­u­rally filled with rain­wa­ter, sur­rounded with scented pines and rhodo­den­drons, and per­haps the most

PHO­TO­GRAPH: GETTY IM­AGES

Enid Bly­ton turned Corfe Cas­tle on the Isle of Purbeck into the fic­tional Kir­rin Cas­tle in her de­but Fa­mous Five story, Five on a Trea­sure Is­land

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