Everyone has their favourite place in their own country, either on their doorstep or just a few hours drive. They go back every year wanting more and more despite visiting the same place – it’s just like a second home. For us, this place is on the South coast of England along the Jurassic Coast.
Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are spectacular and we just can’t get enough! The two locations come hand in hand as they are “just” one giant hill apart, and can be explored in the same day. The landscape is absolutely breathtaking, with blue waters, jagged rock formations, coves, caves and the iconic white chalk cliffs.
If you love walking, hiking, beaches or small seaside towns with pubs, and you haven’t been here yet, then this is a must for 2019 – you can brave a day trip, or even stay over night and make a lovely weekend away!
What is Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door?
Both sites are located along the Jurassic Coast, the Southern coast of England and are part of the Lulworth Estate. The Estate can be dated back as far as the 11th Century, but has been owned by the Weld family from 1691 to date.
The Jurassic Coast was also granted World Heritage Site status in 2001 by UNESCO, which makes it even more worth the visit!
Is of course, you guessed it… a cove! A stunning natural formation that was originally formed by the sea breaking through a thin layer of hard Portland stone that runs parallel to the shoreline. It’s estimated to have formed over 10,000 years ago and is well-known for it’s “Lulworth Crumple” and “Stair Hole”. It’s incredible to witness and is the perfect spot to chill on the white pebble beach and enjoy lunch, or even some kayaking!
Can be reached by foot from Lulworth Cove if you can handle the steep cliff and lots of stairs! It’s not for the fainthearted but is a lovely hike. If you can’t make it up there, don’t worry too much as you can instead take a short 5-minute drive around to the Durdle Door site itself (bear in mind this would mean purchasing two car park tickets).
Durdle Door is one of the World’s most famous rock arches, another natural formation dating back 10,000 years ago. You can walk further along the cliffs for a panoramic view of the arch and sea, or follow the natural cliff path down to Man O’War pebble beach to enjoy a closeup of the formation and the sound of crashing waves.
What else can I find there?
The focal point of the Lulworth Cove site is the Visitor Centre which exhibits how and when the cove formed. There are lots of amazing displays, animations and films to learn the ins and outs of the Cove and Durdle Door, a huge part of England’s geographic history.
The Lulworth Cove Inn is the perfect place to escape the wind and take off your hiking boots – possibly what we look forward to most when visiting the Cove! The cosy, local pub offers the most delicious food with views of the pub garden and the narrow, quaint street. If you’re staying over, they also offer beautifully decorated seaside-style rooms with impressive views of the Cove and surrounding areas – we loved our stay here and will definitely be returning!
If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, you can grab your life jacket and oar and go out on a kayak! You can paddle 180 million years through time with a fantastic guided kayaking tour through Jurassic Coast Activities.
If you don’t fancy pub food, there is of course Fish and Chips! What would a seaside town be without Fish and Chips? Enjoy them inside Finley’s Cafe, or outside on the benches breathing in the sea air – just keep and eye on those pesky Crows…
We all scream for Ice cream! Wash your Fish and Chips down with one of the dozens of Marshfield Farm flavours offered in the kiosk – it’s believed to be the best Ice cream in Britain!
The gift shops here are also a must visit, with beautiful bespoke gift ideas. They’re are filled with mementos, fossils, souvenirs and jewellery, you’re definitely going to want to take something home – there are even hats, scarves and gloves around if you forgot yours like we did…
Durdle Door boasts the famous Limestone arch, beach, view points and cliff steps, but other than the lovely natural landmarks, all you may find close to the site is the Durdle Door Holiday Park. When you exit from the car park heading towards the cliff edge, you can still find a small mobile cafe for snacks and hot drinks, but if you’re not staying nearby and just popping to see Durdle Door for the day, then we suggest taking a packed lunch. You can of course always hike down the cliff to Lulworth Cove.
Durdle Door Holiday Park is a fantastic place to stay as it has the closest access to the beach. Despite being the closest, you will still have to wander down the cliff and it’s steps for about 20 minutes – this doesn’t sound like much but can definitely be a challenge at times. Nevertheless, a perfectly picturesque walk which can be enjoyed at any pace.
Is it free?
Both Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door landmarks are totally free to enter and explore, all you will need to pay for is parking at either of the car parks, and of course any food you may buy. However, if you take your own lunch, this can be an incredible day out costing little to nothing.
Where can I eat?
Lulworth Cove Inn
A quality, 400 year old English pub sitting up on the hill above the Cove. Cosy and dog friendly, with gorgeous, typical pub grub. The food is great and we absolutely love it here – they even have sofas and a pub garden for the warmer months!
Boat Shed Cafe
Quick bites and Vegetarian friendly, this cafe sits right on the edge of the Cove, so the views are to die for! – also known for its great coffee.
Lulworth Lodge Hotel Bistro
If you don’t fancy pub food then this lovely little Bistro offers plenty of seafood including muscles and lobster, with the most beautiful presentation! Also, Vegetarian and Vegan friendly making it diverse and a great place for everyone.
Located next to the Visitor Centre, the Finleys Cafe has lots of meals and snacks to choose from and is also where you will find the fish, chips and ice cream. The building is almost the focal point and is pretty huge so you can’t miss it!
Where can I stay?
Lulworth Cove Inn
This place is definitely an all-rounder, as you can probably tell and it’s at the top of our list for a reason! Food aside, the bedrooms here are so beautiful, and the attention to detail is very well thought through. Each room has its own style, most with sliding doors and balcony with chairs – perfect for a morning coffee. Most importantly the beds are super comfy and the bathroom sparkling clean, again with lots of stunning details to give it that lovely seaside vibe.
If there’s no room at the Inn, the Lulworth Lodge is luckily just a few doors down. Twelve snug, stylish bedrooms which are under a 5-minute walk to the Cove. As mentioned above, they have a lovely Bistro downstairs with all the seafood you can eat!
A little further back up the hill, you will find the Limestone Hotel, a stylist country house with a restaurant. A hearty full English breakfast is included in the room rate too!
When’s the best time to visit?
Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove are both open to the public all year round, but will definitely be best during the warmer months if you want to chill on the beach and enjoy a stroll in the sun. However, it can get very crowded, so if you’re looking for a bit more of a peaceful visit, or for decent photography opportunities, then you can wrap up warm and enjoy the place almost to yourself between October and March. There is of course a chill in the air during these times, but can mostly still catch a bit of sun!
For those photographers out there, you do not want to miss capturing the sun rising “through the keyhole”. This is one of the UK’s iconic images captured by many photographers around the world, but it only doable between mid-December and early January. We haven’t yet been lucky enough to catch this shot, but would love to see if you have?! Comment your link below.
So on your next weekend off work, or even day off, we’d love for you to go and visit the Jurassic Coast as we can guarantee you will not be disappointed! If you are, you can hold us accountable! But seriously, if you haven’t yet been here, make the time to do it and we’d love to hear all about it 🙂