On the east side of the Jurassic coastline sit the sleepy village of Lulworth. Known for its famous fossil beaches, this seaside hideaway is also home to Lulworth Cove and its adjoining neighbour, Durdle Door. The sloping cliff sides and beach pools make the area a popular destination for tourists, holiday makers and the odd person passing through, like myself. As an easy walker and in need of a little chill time, I decided to throw my plan book for the day out of the window and find out why Lulworth is one of those talked about places.
Durdle Door – one of the most well-known landmarks along the Jurassic coast was the first attraction I visited. Visible from just a short walk along the chalk path, this giant rock archway with its crescent beach formed from gradual sea erosion of a limestone strip that once ran along the shore. Seeing landmarks such as this make you realise how powerful our natural environment is. Standing among the tourists in front of this doorway to the ocean with the surrounding cliff sides and clear view of Portland beyond, I got a flicker of that bigger humbling perspective. But there was more to see.
Hiking back up the trail, I bypassed the visitor centre and walked along the butterfly trail to the next staggering viewpoint. The Stair Hole is made up of a rock formation known as the ‘Lulworth crumple’ and an area of limestone eroded into features. It seems a small thing, but take my advice and walk the path to the top of the crumple. Look down for an incredible view of the remaining layers of rock twisted together from the collision of the Earth’s tectonic plates.
Feeling more than a little peckish after my sightseeing walk, I followed my nose towards the wafting hot food aromas drifting up the path and was greeted with a first sight of Lulworth Cove and village. The still-evolving cliff side slopes away to reveal a pretty beach moon and circular boating area. The five types of rock that are distinctive to the area can be seen on the outer wall of the cove. While big, the circular rock provides a feeling of sunny seclusion to the beach area. With boats drifting in and out of the cove and people wandering along the water with ice-creams, time seems to slow down and create that seaside holiday bubble.
Lulworth became popular with tourists in the 1920s and you can imagine paddle steamers bringing visitors along the coast. Motor boats now run a service during the Summer from the beach in Lulworth along the coastline to Durdle Door or Mupe Bay. It is an area that would be well worth viewing from the sea. This is the most popular part of the area, yet I was hesitant to leave to explore the village strip.
Host to Camp Bestival Festival and with many convenient amenities, the village of Lulworth is situated directly next door to the cove. There are a number of food & snacks options along with a visitor centre, gift shop and B&B’s. Many of the village buildings are approaching their centennial and have been carefully preserved, giving a wonderful timewarp charm to the streets. The Doll House has been cleverly converted in to a sweet shop and is sure to be a favourite.
With sweets bought and a wander back to await my ride home, my thoughts turned over all I had seen. I realised that today had been a very rare perfect day out. And I wanted to share it, straight away. So here it is, it won’t be perfectly written I know, but I hope that enthusiasm for the trip comes through. After all, isn’t that what travel writing is all about?
A few tips & tricks….
Getting there and around: As a non-driver, I’d like to mention a few things about the locations in the Lulworth area. The nearest train station to Lulworth is in the village of Wool. From here, bus services run to both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door with day passes and one-trip tickets on sale from the drivers. The buses do run throughout the day, but are a bit spacey around lunchtime so it is worth checking the return times when you get off. Taxis are also available from the station.
Lulworth cover and Durdle Door are only about a mile apart or a 20 minwalk to you and me. Many many people were asking about the distance, but don’t worry about getting from one to the other. My only advice would be to start at Durdle Door first. The trails between sights are sloping cliff side paths (forget pushchairs) and unless you are a strong walker, the climb out of Lulworth may be a little taxing, (see pic below).
Make sure you hydrate – While Lulworth cove has many food & drinks facilities, there are none at Durdle Door, so arm yourself with a bottle of water before starting your walk.
Take appropriate footwear – This is a place where decent shoes are needed to get along the rocky paths, so be kind to your feet and think twice about the flip-flops.
UNESCO World Heritage – You will find a notice marking the World Heritage status of the 95 surrounding miles of the Dorset coast. Please treat this area with respect, so we can preserve it for everyone to enjoy.
Nearby attractions include:
Bovington Tank Museum – http://www.tankmuseum.org/
Monkey World – http://www.monkeyworld.org
Corfe Castle – https://corfe-castle.co.uk
Events – Camp Bestival Festival normally held in July. More info at http://www.campbestival.net
More information – http://www.lulworthonline.co.uk