The 2005 Radio Times poll named the Jurassic Coast the fifth-greatest natural wonder of Britain. It is definitely at the top of my list, alongside Glen Coe in Scotland. The Jurassic Coast is located on the South coast of England, running 96 miles from Orcombe Point in Devon, to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset. In 2001 the Jurassic Coast was designated a World Heritage Site, the second site in the United Kingdom.
Jurassic Coast – Dorset, UK
The Jurassic Coast is one of my favourite places in the south of England. Perfect for an afternoon walk, day out, or even a weekend break. It covers a significant length of the South coast, with so much to explore. This summer I discovered the beauty of Portland Bill, and the stunning Durdle Door. I also re-visited one of my favourite places on the Jurassic Coast, Lulworth Cove.
Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door
Lulworth Cove, located near the village of West Lulworth, was formed by a mixture of wave action, erosion and weathering, combined with a river swollen by ice at the end of the last ice age. The result is one of the most beautiful coves I have visited on the British Isles.
When you arrive in Lulworth there is a large car park, with ample parking for many visitors. The parking fees range from £2 for up to two hours, to £7.50 for the day. On arrival at the car park, have a look around the visitors centre and learn about the cove, as well as the surrounding area of the Jurassic Coast. Just outside the visitors centre you will find Finlay’s Café. Perfect for a Latte, and a slice of their delicious caramel shortbread.
Once I had satisfied my hunger in Finlay’s Café, I headed off towards the western headland of the cove, passing by Stairhole. Stairhole is located just before the western headland, and is an example of what Lulworth Cove would have looked like tens of thousands of years ago. Here you can see a range of different landforms such as caves, blowholes, stacks, stumps and arches, all caused by the erosion processes which formed Lulworth Cove.
I then headed to a view point near the end of the headland, to appreciate the stunning panoramic views over the cove, as well as along the Jurassic Coast. Once I had taken a few photos of this stunning area, I headed down the hill towards the secluded beach on the cove itself. Here you will find ice cream vendors, cafés, and also a few local pubs where you can enjoy lunch or a drink. You can book a range of boat trips from the cove, one of which is a ‘Rib’ ride from the cove to Durdle Door and back. The Rib costs £6 for adults and £4 for children and lasts 15 minutes.
Located just over a mile west of Lulworth Cove, is the famous limestone arch Durdle Door. While visiting Lulworth Cove, it is also worth visiting Durdle Door. You can view Durdle door from the sea if you take a ride on the Rib, or it is about 45 minute walk from Lulworth Cove, but be prepared for steep hill climbs. Durdle Door is owned by the Lulworth Estate, but open to the public.
The walk to Durdle door from Lulworth Cove starts off as quite a steep climb up the hill by the car park, but once you reach the top you can see the East side of Durdle Door, and picturesque Man O’War Bay. The walk down this side is a little less steep than the climb up apart from one small section. A snack bar selling a range of cold drinks and ice creams can be found a few hundred meters before you reach Durdle Door, and refreshments will be needed at this point!
Once you reach Durdle Door the views are simply stunning. Straight in front of you is the stunning arch, out to the west is the dramatic Jurassic Coast and its beautiful beaches, with Weymouth and the Isle of Portland in the distance. Take some time here and appreciate the spectacular panoramic views, as they are some of the best in the UK.
There is only one way back, and that is the way you came! So be prepared for another exhilarating walk along the Jurassic Coast, back to West Lulworth. After I had walked to Durdle Door and back it was safe to say I was completely exhausted and in need of some lunch. There are many places to eat in West Lulworth, but on the drive to Lulworth I had passed a quaint country pub called The Castle Inn, located at the other end of the village. Having earmarked this earlier, I got back in the car and made my way there for some lunch.
The inside of the pub was just as I had imagined, a quiet 16th century pub packed full of rustic country features. The Castle Inn is home to the Permanent Dorset Cider Festival, and being such a lovely day I couldn’t resist! With such a huge selection I found it hard to choose, but I eventually decided on a pint of the Dorset Kingfisher Cider. I sat out in the sun enjoying my cider along with a Beef Ploughman’s lunch. A perfect way to finish a wonderful afternoon on the Jurassic Coast.
I’m confident to say that it won’t be long until I am back at Lulworth Cove to explore more of the Jurassic Coast. The next time I visit I want to head to the other side of the cove to see the famous Fossil Forest, where you can see huge ring shaped fossilised trees, up to two meters wide.
Sunday Afternoon Walk on Portland Bill
A couple of weeks ago after a Sunday lunch in Weymouth with family, we decided to go for a walk on Portland Bill. It was a miserable wet and windy day, and it hadn’t stopped raining all weekend. Due to the weather there were some mixed feelings about this, but we decided to go for it anyway. I was quite excited about this little trip as I had never been to Portland Bill before. We made our way through Weymouth and then on to the Isle of Portland. We headed to the south of the island, to Portland Bill.
Portland Bill is located at the far south of the island, and is in fact the southernmost point of Dorset. The new lighthouse, which has been in operation since 1906, is one of the most popular attractions at Portland Bill. This lighthouse replaced the two older ones which date back to 1716, both of which are still present on the island.
The need for a lighthouse at Portland Bill is extremely important. As well it being a very treacherous part of the Jurassic Coast, there is a sandbank called the Shambles Sandbank which is located just off shore, and there are also many shallow reefs close by. These factors combined cause a very dangerous rip tide in the area, known as the Portland Race.
As we approached Portland Bill the strangest thing happened, the weather over the island cleared up and, the sun came out. For the first time all weekend we had blue skies. The weather in the distance, in all directions was still very overcast. We parked the car and made our way towards the rough sea. I can’t actually remember a time when I have seen the sea as rough as it was, and I have lived close to the coast my whole life.
We enjoyed an exhilarating walk along the Jurassic Coast to Pulpit Rock, bracing ourselves from the wind and dodging the colossal waves that were thrashing this stunning part of the Jurassic Coast. Pulpit Rock is an artificial stack left by quarry men of the late 19th century, as a reminder of the quarrying that used to take place on the Isle of Portland.
We reached Pulpit Rock, and I took advantage of a few great photo opportunities before we decided to head back towards the car park, briefly stopping at the café to enjoy an ice cream. It may have not been the best day weather-wise, but it was still summer.
Portland Bill will definitely be on my list of places to re-visit in the future, but I don’t think I would find a day more perfect in a long time. A perfect balance of clear blue skies, mixed with the strong winds and the fierce waves thrashing the rugged Jurassic Coast added such a theatrical feel to the visit, making it very hard to beat.