Jurassic Coast: between hidden bays and natural arches.
The Jurassic Coast is an area of southern England that I wanted to visit for some time. The reason; its breathtaking landscape immortalized several times in some crazy photos. This stretch of coast was the first English natural site to be classified in 2001 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Thanks to its rocky formation that boasts 185 million years of age, or from the end of the Triassic period, through all that Jurassic until the beginning of the Cretaceous. The layers of its cliffs are therefore like the pages of a book that encloses millions of years of history whose protagonists are the intact fossils of various creatures, which you can see here. The Jurassic Coast stretches for about 153 km from the town of Exmouth in Devon to the bay of Studland, a small coastal village in Dorset; the entire stretch is dotted with epic views and pretty characteristic villages immersed in the natural splendour of hidden bays. I mean, you don’t have to be a geologist to be dazzled by the beauty of these places.
panorama or Jurassic Coast
So I proposed to some friends of trekking enthusiasts to go and explore this area and everyone accepted with much enthusiasm. With this group, composed of the trusty photographer Giuseppe, the poet Matteo and the evergreen Anna, we decided to rent a car because the connections with public transport from London would take twice as long as necessary. We left behind the tall and grey buildings of the city early in the day to immerse ourselves in the English countryside that I adore, made of immense green meadows and grazing sheep. We reached in just over two hours, the parking (fee 5 £ for 4 hours) of Lulworth Cove.
Lulworth Cove is a bay that was shaped by the combined forces of the sea and a river following the melting of ice at the end of the last ice age. Now it looks like an almost perfect inlet, with its shape that seems drawn with a compass and with the beautiful blue and green shades that characterize its backdrop. Today it is a pleasant landing point for small boats but during the Second World War it was used by the Germans as a reference point for navigation. Before we started the walk that leads to Durdle Door, we took the time to discover this place. It was really worth it! From the shore we saw old fishing boats moving up and down the bay full of the smell of the sea. To fully enjoy the view is better to climb to the top of the nearby Stair Hole promontory from where you can admire the entire beauty of Lulworth Cove.
towards Lulworth Cove
THE FIRST PART OF THE WALK
After this first stop we headed to Durdle Door which is only 3km away but instead of doing the classic route consisting of a wide road that starts from behind the parking lot of Lulworth Cove, we took the path towards Dungy Head. It is a path crossed by lush vegetation and after a steep descent we reached a beach. Almost deserted and quiet along which we walked listening only to the symphony of the waves that broke on the gravely shore, marked by our footprints.
towards Dungy Head
towards Man of War
bay of Man of War
After more than fifteen minutes we reached the crescent of Man of War Bay, surrounded by jagged rocks. Only after having reached the top of the cliff thanks to a steep staircase, has proved to our eyes one of the most fascinating natural spectacles in the world: a large limestone arch sculpted by the erosion of wind and sea over the millennia. Nature was truly a skilled Michelangelo, capable of giving humanity a good place to feel more in touch with it and immortalize this arch as the iconic image of the Jurassic Coast. Taking advantage of the fact that there were few people, we had lunch on the beach with an arched view, a corner worthy of a Michelin restaurant, strictly free in our case.
bay of Man of War
panorama of Durdle Door
panorama of Durdle Door
Once the walk is completed you can think of going back along the path along the coast, having a beautiful view from above. Or you can think of more entertainment:
MAN OF WAR BEACH: get down to the beach and enjoy this stretch of promenade where you can decide whether to walk or, if you find a nice day, take a swim.
DURDLE DOOR BEACH: the beach is easily reached via a staircase and is a good opportunity to see the arch up close even if in my opinion, it is better to admire it from above where you can take some crazy photos.
BATS HEAD COAST PATH: if you are not tired and do not want to stop on the beach you can safely continue towards the coastal path to the west to reach, with a steep climb, one of the peaks and then go down to Bat’s Head and have a beautiful view of the cliffs. The walk is about 30 min one way.
START: Lulworth Cove
END: Durdle Door
HOW TO GET:
- You can rent a car at Heathrow Airport. From here you have to take the M23 towards Southampton which you have to leave at exit 13. From here take the A31 towards Poole following the signs to Lulworth Cove.
- You can also get there by public transport, the nearest train station is located in Wool from there there are three buses (30, X54 and 55) that run the short distance between Wool and Lulworth Cove. During the summer months bus services are implemented and bus 30 runs from the end of May to September. There are not many buses throughout the day so you have to be careful to plan your trip carefully.
DISTANCE: from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door 3 km
DIFFICULTY’: easy to
- If you arrive by car, start at Lulworth Cove where the car park is open 24 hours a day, unlike Durdle Door which opens at 8 and closes at 16, 19 or 22.
- Wear comfortable shoes. If it rained the day before you will find mud so better to take your boots too
- bring water