Durdle Door: Go Back Millions of Years In Time at UK’s Jurassic Coast
Visit Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove that date back Millions of years
How many of you would agree with me on the idea that the summer time should be spent and cherished in Europe and the late autumn until early spring is nothing else but ideal for keeping warm in the tropical countries?
Anyone planning on visiting the UK immediately thinks of London, Cambridge, Oxford or Edinburgh . Would you, however, give any credit to the English coastline? Well, cough, I wouldn’t either. Wait, what if I told you about the truly unusual image and name of the UK’s coastline spot? Then visit Durdle Door, this is more than what you’re after.
You should pay a visit to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove (yeah, the name is pretty catchy) if the weather forces are all allied to support you in this adventurous idea!
It’s been quite some time since I heard about this charmed, almost movie scene type of beach or even better, resembling a dance video shot on a summery, tropical beach. Wait, did I tell you this place was actually in England?!
We chose possibly the best time to visit this picturesque and still not known enough rocky spot. Summery getaway for a couple of days with practically intact, cloudless sky, light breeze and the temperature in high twenties. It’s hard to believe it’s only 3 hours away from London (or so does Google maps say!). It’s a wonderful getaway from London if you are lucky enough to experience this type of weather.
How to get to Durdle Door
The easiest (but not always quickest!) way is to drive. What if you don’t? The chances are that you may be already in London or at least may need to be passing through London to visit Durdle Door.
Here are a few options which should save you time from researching further:
- Take the train from London Waterloo to Wool and take a cab to Lulworth (short cab journey, about 5 miles) and walk over the cliffs to reach Durdle Door. You can also take a bus from Wool station
- Take the coach from Hammersmith in London
Once you arrive in Durdle Door
Durdle Door Parking options
There are about 3 parking spots, 2 are located before the walk through the foresty area which are understandably cheaper at about 5 pounds a day. The third one is a lot closer to the beach and the payment is chargeable per hour.
You can also chance leaving your car on the road before the car parks. It seems to be a common practice amongst drivers when the car park capacity is maxed out and is free of charge. The sides of the road are covered with the grass which can be tricky when pulling your car over the steep grassy curb.
Durdle Door beach is located about 20-25 minute walk from the two first car parks. You’ll be walking through the forest and then steadily walking down the stairs and a few slopes towards the Durdle Door beach. Make sure you bring some better equipped footwear than the average flip flops as we heard some people sliding down a little! If you decide to do some hiking, you may want to bring a pair of hiking sandals.
Once on the top of the flat part of the cliff, you’ll see in the centre the standalone public toilets with disabled access and a couple of vans serving ice creams, hot drinks and snacks. On a sunny day the queues for the vans and toilets are quite long so be patient! And the toilets are not impressive either but they’re still better than the average Toi Toi toilets.
Where to stay
If you’re coming from London and you’re pushed for time, a day trip to visit Durdle Door will have to suffice. Otherwise, you can opt in for an overnight stay to capture the sunset and if you’re disciplined enough, also the sunrise.
Dorchester offers a good selection of hotels. We booked our accommodation at the Terrace Lodge Hotel a day before visiting Durdle Door (ah, did I mention it was the bank holiday weekend in August?). Despite being a little far from Durdle Door, this hotel seemed to be a good option for food and definitely value for money as everywhere else was already booked.
Camping, Caravanning and Glamping
Lulworth holiday park is a good base for your tent. There are also some static caravan parks and if you’re looking to upgrade, you’ll be spoilt for choice with the local glamping options as long as you book early in advance rather than booking last minute accommodation. Unfortunately, sunny days in England are not so common as in mainland Europe. Bear in mind that once there’s a heatwave, the best spots are bound to be booked in no time!
Durdle Door Camping Pods
They can be quite comfy and more suitable for those who like the idea of camping but prefer to stay in the rather cosy settings without having to leave the beach. This will be a good option it you like the comfort and prefer to travel light and it’s very affordable from around £35 per night.
Durdle Door Attractions
Durdle Door arch is by far one the UK gems and it is definitely worth visiting. Weather plays quite an important factor for this location so always be on the lookout for the sunny days to seize the opportunity for the best views around Dorset.
Not sure what to do in Durdle Door?
If you’re expecting lively local bars, market stalls with beachwear or at least supermarkets within the walking distance, I’m going to disappoint you. It’s more of a self-catering beach and the local facilities are quite scarce so you won’t walk past many shops that cater towards beach lovers.
However, many of the beach goers bring their packed food and water sports kits for snorkeling, kayaking and SUP. There are a few boat hire companies that organise boat rides along the Jurassic Coast. Just think about all those cliff jumps to (we’re used to 25C+ so we found the water freezing cold but) pristine waters of the English Channel!
Durdle Door in the Jurassic Coast is definitely not a sandy beach and you’ll soon feel the shingle ‘gently’ stabbing your feet. Kev had to wear his flip flops when we were taking a little stroll around the beach but to me being bare footed was quite pleasant, a bit like having a typical Thai foot massage (it does get better with time once you gradually start getting used to the pain!)
So yeah, just bring a pair for your own sake and then decide if you need it.
Make effort and visit other places near Durdle Door
Our favourite location within the Jurassic Coast was Durdle beach but Man O’war beach is located right behind it and it’s just as beautiful. We stayed in both locations to get a better feel and both were great for some sunbathing, picnicking and the outdoor activities.
We headed towards the Lulworth Cove to see the sunset from the top but I think it’s still more impressive to see it from Durdle Door because of the unique scenery.
There’s plenty of hiking area for you to explore the surroundings with many hills so bring some comfy trainers.
Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove Walk
The Jurassic Coast is probably the only natural heritage in the UK and I must admit, it’s very well maintained. Did you know this place holds the history of over 185 millionyears? The distance between Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove is very walkable unless you really want to drive up there but I don’t see the point as it’s probably quicker to walk there and back rather than going back to your car. Anyway, you’ll see.
How to get to Lulworth cove beach
In case you’re wondering how to get to Lulworth beach, my answer is to follow the signs marked at the main entrance past the public toilets and vans with snacks and drinks. You can walk up to Lulworth beach via cliff tops connecting Durdle Door and walk all the way down to the shore.
My modest estimate is around half an hour. Even if you are a fast walker, you end up going up and down the stairs which can be tiring at times! The following map may be helpful, just follow the local signs or simply walk along the coast.
You’re also not far from Weymouth beach or Isle of Portland. There are local buses to Weymouth from Dorchester (about half an hour ride) or a quicker option is the South Western Railway that leaves every hour and takes about 15 mins to reach Weymouth.
Compared to other coastal resorts in the UK, the food choice here is pretty scarce and you will definitely not see them at the bottom of the cliff. Luckily, we had some of our own food with us but that wasn’t enough so we went around and explored the local food options.
With a slim selection of shops from the main entrance, your best bet is the Blue Crab pub. If you’re walking from the main entrance, it is just past the camping site at the top of the cliff which serves hot food, drinks and snacks.The food is served from 12pm-3pm and then again from 6pm-9pm.
If you happen to miss the serving times, there’s also Nisa supermarket right next to the pub (that is, if you are just as desperate as we were!)
Best time to visit Durdle Door at sunrise and see it ‘Through the Keyhole’
Regardless of the season, the sunrise or sunset views re going to be unforgettable. However, there are a few weeks in a year where your efforts to visit this natural, prehistoric landmark will give full justice and leave you utterly gobsmacked.
If you want to delight your better half and take her/him on a romantic date somewhere spectacular, treat them to an intangible Xmas gift and visit Durdle Door at Christmas or New Year’s Eve. I’m sure you can combat colder winter temperatures because what you’re going to see there will warm you up from the inside.
Around two weeks before and after the Winter Solstice which happens around 21st or 22nd December, you will be able to capture the sun emerging from the darkness just to be seen slowly passing ‘Through the Keyhole’ of the Durdle Door arch.
It only happens a few times per year when the position of the sun is in our favour thanks to the unique combination of geographic coordinates and the right timing. Why? As the Earth moves on its axis, this time of the year you will see the sun perfectly aligning between the Durdle Door’s arch. The scenery will definitely top the one of the ‘Manhattanenge’ and maybe even Stonehenge.
There’s nothing more calming than the sunrays beaming ‘Through the Keyhole’ of this millions-years-of-history-old arch. Take your beloved one, it will be a picture perfect moment that you can eternalise when sharing the meaningful moments with your love. Sure, it requires more planning but for some of the more romantic souls this will be a lot more appreciated than a physical Christmas gift.
So… Is visiting Durdle Door Arch really worth your precious time?
It depends. Oh, is this not the answer you were looking for? I’m subjective so check out for yourself. For us, definitely yes and even more on a sunny, summery day when there’s much more to do with the main facilities in place. Or at least when it’s not raining so you get the entire place to yourself, ha! You wish.
I reckon Durdle Door arch is, just as many other beach locations, very much weather dependent and to see its striking beauty you may want to ask the sun to spare some sunrays for you to blaze them through or above it the Durdle arch. It’s definitely one of the most breathtaking UK seaside locations and there’s no doubt we’ll revisit it.
Recap: what to bring to Durdle Door in Dorset
Surprise, surprise, we managed to bump into a few of our friends on the beach which proves that Lulworth coast is pretty impressive compared to other beaches near London. Overall, it’s very couple and family oriented location and you’ll see all sorts of people of all age, from toddlers to 80 year olds. It is a very different vibe from Brighton (for those who have been) and it’s one of the nicest beaches in the UK that are also fairly well connected with the capital.
If you’re heading out from London and decided to drive rather than take the public transport, bear in mind that there will be hundreds of people like you and you may want to avoid traffic. We left at 10 am and as much as it sucks to say, we got stuck in traffic for 2 hours!
Remember to bring:
Good shoes – for walking up and down – you will encounter steep surface and loads of rubble, pebbles – sandals or hiking shoes will be best.
Packed lunch and snacks – as there aren’t many food options aound the neighbouring beach area
Comfortable type of blanket – it will provide you support for the non so smooth shingle
Camera – if you’re lucky, you’ll get to see an amazing sunset or/and sunrise!
No BBQ or drones allowed!
Final thoughts on the millions years old Jurassic Coastline gateway
There’s something magical about this limestone, archaic door the nature has once created. Here’s the tip for some of you, Nature Lovers. If you’re planning to visit Durdle Door on a hot, sunny day – wait till everyone’s gone. All you’ll be surrounded by will be the subtle sound of the whispering wind, bizarrely connecting you to the outer, millions of years apart world. All thanks to this very gateway.
It’s fascinating not just to the eyes, but to your mind. So there you are, sat on the shingle, thinking what was it like when the humans hadn’t even reached that stage of the evolution yet.
And the erosive power of the sea, naturally and yet so casually sweeping its way in with the waves over that standalone rocky cliff.
Have a phenomenal sunset (and sunrise) and don’t forget to let us know whether you felt that connection too!
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