A walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove, Dorset

by Jan

The walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove is one of the most popular walks on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.  At only one mile each way, it is only a short walk.  However, it encompasses some of the most outstanding landscapes in England, including two of Dorset’s top tourist attractions.

Join us on our walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove, where you’ll see two of Dorset’s most iconic natural landmarks.  We’ll give you all the information you need to plan a visit, plus show you other famous geological landmarks, such as the Man O’War Beach and Stair Hole.

The Durdle Door Walk covers a short stretch of dramatic coastline in southern England, famous for its distinctive landforms, fossils and rocks.  The landscape is so unique it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now attracts millions of visitors from around the world.

It’s two of the best places to visit on the Jurassic Coast and a walk you should definitely include in your Dorset itinerary.  So, if you’re interested in visiting Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove, this is the perfect guide for you.

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What is Durdle Door?

Blue sky and seat and the impressive cliff archway at Durdle Door, Dorset, UK

Durdle Door is a natural limestone arch, created over thousands of years of constant bashing by the sea against the rocks.  The result of this sea erosion is a stunning arch, now one the most photographed landmarks in Dorset.

As well as being one of the highlights of the Jurassic Coast, Durdle Door is of major geological importance.  It continues to erode and eventually the ceiling of the arch will collapse, leaving an isolated sea stack.

Getting to Durdle Door Beach

From Durdle Door car park, it’s a 10-minute walk to the top of the cliff.  If you head to the right, you’ll find a viewpoint with the most amazing views over Durdle Door and the beach.

You can just look from the top, but to make the most of our day out at Durdle Door, we always start with a trip down to the beach.

Getting to Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, UK

A steep flight of steps leads down to Durdle Door beach.  However, as this is the only access to and from the beach, it can get congested in the summer.

Durdle Door is a beautiful beach, with turquoise waters and stunning views.  However, it is stony, so not as child friendly as some of the other amazing Dorset beaches.  The water at Durdle Door is clear and in summer you can swim out to the arch (if you don’t mind the cold!).  We were there in April and one brave man was already taking a dip.

Signs warning not to climb on cliffs above Durdle Door Beach, Dorset, UK

It’s important to note that there are no facilities on Durdle Door beach.  However, you’ll find toilets and a refreshment van at the top by the car park.

Man O'War Bay

Man o War Beach, Dorset, UK

Half-way down the steps to Durdle Door beach is a viewing point which looks to the left over the Man O’War Bay.  This is a beautiful crescent shaped cove, with a shingle beach.

Man O’War Bay has a sheltered beach, which is good for swimming and fishing.

The walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove

Once you’ve had enough time on Durdle Door beach, head back up the staircase for the walk to Lulworth Cove.

You’ll see a signpost with directions, but the route to Lulworth Cove is really simple.  In fact, it’s impossible to get lost – just follow the crowds!  The walk is only one mile along the South West Coast Path.  It has a slight incline at the start but is mostly downhill.

The walk to Lulworth Cove takes about 30 minutes.  Of course, you should allow time for some photo stops, as the views are outstanding.  To the left you have rolling countryside and to the right, stunning views over Dorset’s Jurassic coast.

As you descend the hill, Lulworth Cove will come into view.

Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK

Lulworth Cove is another of the Jurassic Coast’s stunning natural features, with more of the world’s most unique geology.

The picturesque horse-shoe shaped harbour was formed after the last Ice Age when a river swollen by meltwater flowed overland to the sea.  It cut into the valley, breaching the Portland stone.  As the valley flooded, the new Lulworth Cove was formed.

Along with Durdle Door, it is one of the top attractions in Dorset.

Things to do at Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre

Dinosaur skeleton at the Luloworth Cove visitor centre

As Lulworth Cove is so famous for its unique geology, I suggest you start your visit at the Visitor Centre.

Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about the formation of the unique Jurassic coastline.   It is very child-friendly, with diagrams, photos and videos, showing how the coastline has evolved over time.  It also has a model of a dinosaur and several interactive activities.

Admission to the Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre is free.  They also have a tea shop, gift shop and toilets.

Places to eat at Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove has a vibrant centre, with a few small shops and several places to eat and drink.  Just take a stroll down the Main Road, where you can take your pick.  It has a couple of pubs, the Lulworth Cove Inn, and Lulworth Lodge, plus several places where you can buy fish and chips.

After a visit to the Visitor Centre our first stop was a cute little sweet shop, The Doll’s House.  Built in 1856, it was originally the home of local fisherman, Alfred Charles, and his family of twelve.  Today, the tiny shop sells Dorset fudge and traditional sweets.  How could we resist?  Outside it has a tea garden and ice cream parlour.

Afterwards, we took a stroll to the beach front and ate lunch at The Boat Shed Café.  The café does a roaring trade in paninis and light lunches.

The beach at Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove has a horseshoe shaped bay with a shingle beach.  The bay is sheltered, providing safe, calm water for paddling and swimming.  Children can also go rock-pooling.

You can usually spot a few boats bobbing on the still waters.

The best viewing point at Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK

To get to the best views over Lulworth Cove, leave the beach and follow the steep path to the left.

This will join the South West Coast Path and lead up to a viewpoint, where you can enjoy Lulworth Cove from above.  You’ll also see the World Heritage Commemorative Stone.

Stair Hole

Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove, Dorset, UK

Did you know that Durdle Door is not the only limestone arch on the Lulworth Estate?

Just west of Lulworth Cove is Stair Hole, another of the Jurassic Coast’s unique geological features.  It is a small cove with arches, caves and a blow hole, formed over many years by sea erosion.  On the cliff face you can see the folded limestone strata, known as the Lulworth Crumple.  This is the result of tectonic plates crashing millions of years ago.

To get to the Stair Hole, retrace your steps from the viewpoint, keeping on the South West Coast Path.  You’ll see the Stair Hole from the headland.  It is about a 5-minute walk from Lulworth Cove.

If you want to extend your walk, head to Fossil Forest on the eastern side of Lulworth Cove.  Here you’ll find a unique example of fossilised tree stumps in the rocks.

The return walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door

Another view of Man o War, Dorset, UK

As this is a linear walk, you just retrace your steps back to Durdle Door.  You can join the path from Stair Hole, or go back to the Visitor Centre first.

The return walk is mostly uphill, so might be challenging for some visitors.  I was definitely puffing, but the kids thought it fun to run up!

If you can only manage one way, you could return on the X54 bus.

Is it best to start the walk at Durdle Door or Lulworth Cove?

We have done the walk several times and always start at Durdle Door.  We prefer to start here so that we can have lunch or an ice-cream when we arrive at Lulworth.  As you’ve heard, the facilities at Lulworth Cove are far better.

Obviously, as it is a linear walk you can start at Lulworth Cove too.  There is plenty of parking at Lulworth Cove and the car park prices are the same.  However, the car park is open until 9pm.

I guess it’s a matter of when you need to use the facilities and where you want to spend more time.  You might also want to consider when you want the easier walk.  It’s a tougher walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door!

Things to know before you go

The best time to visit Durdle Door

Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove are both extremely popular tourist destinations in Dorset.  As you’d imagine they can get extremely busy in the peak summer months (July-August).  Obviously, they are also busier on a sunny day.

It’s best to avoid school holidays and weekends.  If you can’t avoid these peak times, go earlier in the morning.

Between April and mid-July is a good time to visit Durdle Door.  We did our most recent walk in April.  It was busy, but not unpleasant.  Plus, as you can see the weather was magnificent.

Getting to Durdle Door

Getting to Durdle Door by car

Durdle Door is on the Lulworth Estate in East Dorset, on the South Coast of England.  It is between West Lulworth and Winrifth Newburgh.  The easiest way to get to Durdle Door is by car.  The sat nav postcode is BH20 5PU.

You can easily get from London to Durdle Door using the M25/M3.  From here you can get on the M27 and take a scenic drive through the New Forest National Park.  The journey takes under 3 hours.

Parking at Durdle Door

The car park for Durdle Door is at the far end of Durdle Door Holiday Park.  The car park has two fields, and a pay and display machine.  The price is currently £5 for 4 hours or £10 for the day.

The postcode for the car park is BH20 5PU.  During the summer (April – September) the car park is open from 9am to 9pm.  In winter (October – March) parking hours are limited to 9am-4pm.

Getting to Durdle Door on public transport

Southwest Trains operate regular trains from London Waterloo to Wool.  The train journey takes 2 hours 20 mins.

From Wool, you will need to take a taxi to Durdle Door.  This will take about 10 minutes.

Can I bring a dog?

Durdle Door is dog-friendly, as long as they can manage the steep staircase to the beach.  Dogs will love the walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove.

Best places to stay near Durdle Door

If you want to stay near Durdle Door, you’ll have several choices for accommodation.

The closest accommodation to Durdle Door is at the Durdle Door Caravan Park.  They have a range of caravans, glamping cabins and camping pods.  We’ve previously stayed in one of the pods, which was ideal for a weekend break on the Jurassic Coast.

Best places to stay near Lulworth Cove

You’ll find a greater choice of accommodation at Lulworth Cove.

You can choose from a couple of hotels,  the Lulworth Cove Inn or Lulworth Lodge.  If you prefer self-catering accommodation, Lulworth Cove has some very cute cottages, like Cajun Cottage.  All are on Main Street and are walking distance from the beach and facilities.

We'd love to hear from you!

Have you done the walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove in Dorset?  We’d love to hear your comments below.

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