The Jurassic Coast is 250 million years old, 95 miles long and England’s first natural World Heritage Site.
This rugged landscape is probably most famous for Lulworth Cove which was left behind by the last Ice-Age, and the iconic arch – Durdle Door. Made up of coves, cliffs, beaches and natural craggy rock formations, the Jurassic Coast is an adventure playground just waiting to be explored.
And at the beginning of April I became obsessed with visiting it.
There’s always a certain amount of pressure to do something amazing for landmark birthdays. Although, to be honest I’m not the ‘Oh my god, that would be amaaaaazing’ kind of person. But with my 40th birthday fast approaching, I felt the pull for us to go away for a few days to somewhere we hadn’t been before.
The last 18-months have been so fucking shitty, I just wanted a short break where we could get away from it all, have some peace and quiet and do the things we love to do: walking, running and exploring.
Cue Dorset with the spectacular Jurassic Coastline.
The South West Coast Path
Originally started by coastguards who used to look out for smugglers, the South West Coast path is the longest National Trail in England. It’s 630 miles long and stretches all the way from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset, and I couldn’t wait to explore some of it.
We stayed at Upton Grange Holiday Cottages in Osmington, which certainly gave us some lovely scenery. Although, a couple of days before we were due to go I discovered they were based next door to a dairy farm. This sent my anxiety levels through the roof, and upon arrival I was heartbroken when all we could hear was the sound of the cows from the farm.
Dairy farming aside, Osmington was the perfect base. It was ideally located so we could reach each of our desired destinations in approximately 20 minutes by car. And climbing over the gate at the back of the cottage grounds, led us directly onto the road leading up towards Ringstead Bay and the coastal path.
I’ve always found the best way to explore somewhere new is on foot, and with easy access to the South West Coast path – that’s exactly what we did. We ran through the mist, along rocky woodland paths, through dewy fields of long grass, along the top of craggy cliff tops and then down onto the beach. It was exactly what I needed.
I couldn’t leave without one more run through the misty back roads, and on the morning we were leaving we hit the road again but ran a slightly shorter route.
The Jurassic Coast
Part of the South West Coast path, the Jurassic Coast is 95-miles of coastline just waiting to be explored. Running from East Devon to Dorset, this World Heritage Site is popular with walkers and adventure junkies. Our 12-mile hike only covered a tiny fraction of it. But from what I saw, it’s certainly somewhere I’d like to return to and explore further.
The main point of our trip was to visit two of its most iconic landmarks: Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. We were going to walk along the cliff tops while looking on in awe at the spectacular views of the deep blue ocean, the clear blue sky and chalky white cliffs. It was going to be a birthday to remember. And it was. But not for the reasons mentioned above.
Most of our walk looked like this.
Not quite the glorious blue sky and deep blue ocean views that I had in mind. But unfortunately, mist is part and parcel of visiting the coast, and it can hit when you least expect it.
With the hillside completely shrouded in mist, we questioned a few times whether we should turn back. It was so thick we had no idea if it would lift, or even worse, become thicker and reduce our visibility even more. Walking a couple of miles without seeing anyone else didn’t help matters either, it only made us doubt ourselves further.
You can’t beat a scratchy bottom
Eventually, we started to pass a few walkers coming in the opposite direction – so we continued. And as we reached Bat’s Head we finally found ourselves out of the mist and into the hazy sunshine. I removed my base layer, and for the first time that day felt the warmth of the sun on my skin.
We sat down, cracked open our sandwiches and finally got to see the craggy coastline in all its glory.
A natural limestone arch that is approximately 10,000 years old, Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most popular and iconic landmarks. It was also the main reason for our trip. I wanted to see this more than Lulworth Cove and once we reached it, I wasn’t disappointed.
Seeing the natural arch stretch out into the sea, I could understand why it attracts approximately 500,000 visitors each year. I took about a gazillion photos and posed for the obligatory shot in front of it, before heading off through the crowds towards Lulworth Cove.
The sun had been out in full force for a while and we were able to enjoy the views we’d been looking forward to. But just as we were about to set off for the Cove, the mist started to creep in again.
Left behind at the end of the last Ice-Age, Lulworth Cove is another iconic World Heritage Site. Well known for its colourful bluey green water, it was covered by a blanket of mist the day we visited – which made for some interesting photos. Despite the mist, there were still families down on the beach and in the water. Even though visibility was poor, it didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits.
The Jurassic 100km was also taking place, which meant the area was busier than usual. Amusingly we got mistaken for participants of the race, which made me feel quite smug for about a nanosecond – until I realised what it entailed and that I’d never bloody make it! Ha!
Realising we were a little short on food for the length of the hike we were doing, I was super happy to find a café serving vegan burgers. Unfortunately, my happiness was short lived when I bit into it and realised the main flavour was coriander. I. Hate. Coriander. So, unfortunately I couldn’t eat it. But somehow, Ian managed to find room for it along with his own.
Luckily, I found somewhere near the cove that sold chips – every vegans saviour when eating out. We found ourselves a seat and scoffed them while looking out across the misty water.
Sponsored by Mist
After we left Lulworth Cove and headed back towards Durdle Door, the whole area was covered in mist again. I’m so glad we’d already seen it or I would have been disappointed.
Our hike back to Osmington was done completely in the mist. The wind had picked up, it was damp, and it was cold. We met a few of the Jurassic 100 contestants on our way back and had a chat with one of them. He was 30km in and looked absolutely done for. We wished him good luck and then he got on his way.
After he’d gone, there was a moment where I suggested to Ian that we should do it next year. But when he pretty much laughed in my face, I figured he had a point!
By now, the Jurassic Coastline was once again hidden from view. I was also wrapped up in my base layer and windproof, as we found ourselves carefully making our way through the mist along the top of the cliffs.
By the time we’d returned to Upton Grange, I was ready for a hot shower, warm food and snuggly pyjamas.
Despite the mist, I loved our hike along the South West Coast path. When the mist lifted, and the sun came out, the Jurassic Coastline was everything I’d expected it to be. This was the perfect place to celebrate my 40th birthday. Although, the ongoing joke is that my birthday trip to Dorset was sponsored by mist.
Tips and advice
- Depending on where you’re walking from, the route is steep in parts and it makes for a strenuous hike. Wear suitable footwear and take plenty of food and drink
- Weather can change quickly. Make sure you have appropriate clothing, along with general hiking accessories like a torch and a whistle
- If you just want to visit Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, there are car parks available nearby. For cars, prices start at £4 for 0-2 hours going all the way up to £9 for over 6 hours
- Refreshments and toilets are available at the Durdle Door car park
- There is a visitor centre and toilets available near Lulworth Cove
- There are plenty of places to eat and drink when visiting Lulworth Cove
- Expect both landmarks to be busy, especially during the summer months. Visiting early morning or later in the evening will be quieter