East Devon & Dorset: Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

The Lulworth area of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site is truly its jewel in the crown. Turquoise blue waters, fascinating geology and awe-inspiring scenery make Lulworth a majestic place to visit.

And its poster boy is Durdle Door. The natural limestone arch stretching out into the water draws thousands of visitors every year to wonder at this natural beauty from up high on the cliff-tops or from the tranquil setting of the beach at its feet.

Druilde Door with the island of Portland in the distance. Pic: Scott Hunt

We start our visit at the village of West Lulworth. Turn off the main road at Wool and follow the lane down until you arrive at the heart of the village. The first thing we come to is a large car parking area with the visitor centre in front of us.

We park up and take a wander across the road to the Lulworth Cove Inn. Clearly popular with the locals, the pub is heaving but service is swift and friendly and the food isn’t unreasonably priced despite its prime location (£11.95 for a Steak and Tanglefoot Ale pie, £9.75 for Hand-battered Fish and Chips). The food is delicious and set us up beautifully for the afternoon ahead.

Walk straight down the road from the pub for around half a mile and you will soon arrive at the picturesque beauty of Lulworth Cove. After an iffy morning weather-wise, the skies are now blue and the sun is beating down. The calm blue waters stretching out in front of us and the grass-covered cliff tops all around provide a magnificent backdrop for one of the most idyllic beaches you could ever wish to find.

The calm, clear waters of Lulworth Cove. Pic: Scott Hunt

It’s not quiet, not by any means, as locals and holiday-makers alike lap up this gem of a place. But somehow the crowds around don’t seem to matter. As the water laps against the shingle beach and the boats bob merrily out in the cove, any noise all just fades into the background.

We had our hearts set on an RIB boat trip from the cove out to Durdle Door. Unfortunately, perhaps typically, the boats weren’t running on the day of our visit. It was a disappointment but, after half an hour sitting on the beach, we got over it pretty quickly.

After enjoying a refreshing drink at the beachside café it was time to return to the car. Durdle Door was calling.

Now there are many ways to get a glimpse of this iconic landmark. From the car park at West Lulworth you can see streams of people pouring over the cliffs above, walking along a path out towards the limestone arch. But the lady in the visitor centre had informed us that it was around a 40-minute walk to reach it along that route.

Adventurers we may be, but that kind of trek wasn’t particularly appetising. The advice is, get back in the car and drive back up the road the same way you came in. Soon, a sign reading ‘Durdle Door’ will appear on the left. Follow this road, go through the campsite and you will arrive at Durdle Door car park.

Parking tickets are transferable between the two car parks so don’t worry about paying again for parking. From here, it is no more than a 10-15 minute walk to get to Durdle Door, which seems like a much more palatable option.

Soon, small groups of people gathering on the edge of the cliff will emerge ahead, signalling there is something worth seeing. And boy is there something worth seeing.

Man O’ War Bay. Pic: Scott Hunt

Man O’ War Bay is stretched out in front of us, in all its majestic beauty. The beach stretches around the bay, a multi-toned vision of shimmering blue. Out into the bay are a line of rocks, which the water gently crashes against. Down below, people lazing on the beach, making the most of the glorious weather. One chap swims from one side of the bay to the other, rippling through the turquoise waters.

The peace and wonder is punctuated by one main noise – that is the word ‘wow’. For every single person, without fail, when they reach the edge of the cliff and gaze down below exclaim ‘wow’. I proudly include myself in that because, frankly the sheer beauty of this place awe-inspiring.

We move on further down the path and soon the piece de resistance, Durdle Door, emerges. With the enormous arch in the foreground and the island of Portland in the distance, it’s the perfect spot to stand, stare and drink in the wonder in front of your eyes.

It would be perfectly enjoyable to stand up here and take photographs all day, but we choose to get closer to the action. Down steps, which are difficult to traverse and tough to climb back up again, we reach the beach at the foot of Durdle Door.

The arch of Durdle Door from down on the beach. Pic: Scott Hunt

The pebble beach of Lulworth Cove has given way to fine shingle as kids run around, paddling in the water as families soak up the afternoon sun. The humdrum and stresses of everyday life disappear in a place like this. One of the most remarkable pieces of nature in the country, basking in the sunshine, is a quite wonderful sight.

This coast boasts a plethora of delights, but Lulworth is arguably the shining light. With a coastline to die for, more geological importance than you can shake a stick at and character and beauty in spades, this is a place not to be missed.


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