For a welcome blast of winter sea air, one of the best beach walks has got to take in Durdle Door.
Let your imagination run riot on this celebrated arch of rock on the Dorset coast, and you can easily envisage it as the fore-body and neck of a great dinosaur, such as a Diplodocus, with its head down in the water. And why not? This is the Jurassic Coast, after all.
The arch was formed by the erosion of the limestone deposits by wave action. The rocks at the bottom of the protrusion are softer than those above and to the side, and were eroded faster, hence the shape; one day the top of the arch will collapse into the sea.
That’s all the more reason to take a bracing walk in the area during the Christmas period, even if the stunning cliff-top scenery hasn’t already beguiled you. On a clear day you can enjoy a wonderful view across to the Isle of Portland to the west, and near at hand, the gentle cove of Man o’ War and the sharp offshore rocks. Look out for cormorants here, and there will be jackdaws, rooks and ravens flying about everywhere, riding the inevitable breezes. If you are fortunate, you may see a peregrine falcon, a deadly hunter that, unlike us in our holiday state, never takes a break.
Heading to the arch
There are two ways to do Durdle Door. If you fancy a shorter walk, follow the signs to Durdle Door and park at the small (free) car park outside the caravan park. You will need to go through the caravan park before the coastal path sweeps down towards the peninsula. There is a steep gravel path that can be slippery, and you need to be extremely careful at the first section of cliff-top as there is no fence to keep you and your loved ones away from the edge. Near Durdle Door itself there are lookout points and steps down to the beach; small children may find these difficult. Note that the arch itself is only visible once you reach the lookout point.
Another great way to see the area is to walk west from Lulworth Cove. Park in the large (paying, £3) car park at the Cove (or park in West Lulworth for free) and brace yourself for the stiff climb up the hill called Hanbury Tout. The effort is worth it, but will be hard work after the excesses of Christmas. If you do go this way, note that you cannot see the arch until you arrive at the Durdle Door viewpoint – it isn’t visible from the east.
HOW TO GET THERE
From Bournemouth direction take the A35 towards Dorchester, turning left on to the A351 towards Wareham. Turn on to the A352 then follow the signs to Lulworth; Durdle Door is signposted in brown from West Lulworth.
FIND OUT MORE
EAT and STAY
Lulworth Cove Inn
Stay the night, enjoy a meal or stop for a pint in this popular inn.
The Tank Museum
Bovington BH20 6JG