Southern England: Weymouth, Durdle Door and the Jurassic Coast
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I have to admit, for a long time I associated Cornwall with the south of England. For a long time I have planned to visit the spectacular westernmost tip of England. But let's put it like it is: I still haven't managed to make my wish come true. But I unexpectedly stumbled across a spot that I didn't even have on the list and maybe that's why I was completely blown away: The Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Weymouth, a cute port town, and the South West Coast Path, one of the most beautiful hiking trails in southern England, await you here.
- About the Jurassic Coast
- Arrival and locomotion
- Hiking the South West Coast Path National Trail
- Attractions in Weymouth
- Traveling to the Jurassic Coast with a dog
Highlights of Dorset's Jurrasic Coast:
- the pretty town of Weymouth
- the small town of Lulworth Cove
- the rock Durdle Door
- of the crescent bay Man-of-War.
- the South West Coast Path National Trail
Where to find the Jurassic Coast in England
The Jurassic Coast, also known as the Jura Coast, stretches for around 150 kilometers along the coast of the English Channel in southern England from Devon to Dorset. The Jurassic Coast owes its name to the fossil finds that survive here to this day. It is also one of the so-called Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, i.e. one of England's areas of outstanding natural beauty. And rightly so, with its white cliffs and crescent-shaped bays, this stretch of coast is simply incredibly beautiful.
How to get to the Jurassic Coast?
You read it, the coastline is 150 kilometers long, so first you have to decide where to start exploring. For a (short) holiday, I recommend the picturesque coastal town of Weymouth, as it has a lot to offer itself and is an ideal starting point for hikes on the South West Coast Path. More on that below.
If you are traveling by car, for example by ferry or Eurotunnel, Weymouth is around three and a half hours' drive from Dover and Folkstone. The nearest airports are in Bournemouth and Southampton, but Bristol and London are also good starting points for a trip to the Jurassic Coast. By the way, you can reach Weymouth in a particularly environmentally friendly way by train.
The easiest way to explore the Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coaster Bus
The Jurassic Coaster Bus connects all the places and attractions along the coast. By the way, it is officially the X54 line, which unfortunately only runs from Monday to Friday. The double decker ride is worth it for the beautiful views of the English countryside and coast alone. Tickets can easily be bought on the bus. The bus is also ideal for getting back to the starting point after a day's hike. Dogs are allowed on the bus.
Explore the Jurassic Coast by car
Of course you can also explore the coast by car. Sufficient parking spaces await you at most sights (mostly for a fee), and the roads you drive on are really promising.
Hiking in Southern England: On the South West Coast Path National Trail
The South West Coast Path National Trail is Britain's longest signposted long-distance footpath. It is 1014 kilometers long and runs from Minehead in Somerset along the coasts of Devon and Cornwall to finally ending in Poole Harbor in Dorset. And one of the most beautiful stretches can be found along the Jurassic Coast. It passes by two of the coast's most recognizable landmarks: the striking Durdle Door and the crescent-shaped Man-of-War Bay.
Jurassic Coast: Day Walks from Weymouth on the South West Coast Path
So if you're not planning on walking the entire South West Coast Path but want to take a day hike along this amazing stretch of the Jurassic Coast, then Weymouth is an exceptionally good place to start. You can choose whether you want to do a long hike or a short but promising one.
The long walk starts in Weymouth and runs all the way to Lulworth Cove. A distance of almost 24 kilometers has to be covered. Since you walk a lot on soft ground and the altitude meters add up quite a bit due to the constant ups and downs, you should not underestimate the path. Once in Lulworth Cove, you can either stay in one of the few but cute hotels (make sure to book in advance), or take the Jurassic Coaster Bus back to Weymouth.
The short walk runs from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove. We did this hike and will present it in more detail below. By the way: Since it is quite short, you can also park in Lulworth Cove and hike from there to Durdle Door and back again.
Our Jurassic Coast walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove
We used the Jurassic Coaster to get from Weymouth to the start of the hike. And I can really say that a bus ride has seldom been more pleasant or more promising. In order to get from the bus stop to the coast, we first had to cross some fields and meadows. But when we caught a glimpse of the sea for the first time, we already suspected what was to come: One of the most spectacular beaches we have ever seen.
An imposing, brilliant white cliff followed the next and the view was just fantastic. The beach is framed by the rock arch Durdle Door, which inevitably reminds of an elephant. Since we were traveling in winter, we were able to enjoy the beach without any crowds of tourists. However, the large parking lot that we passed earlier gives an idea of what must be going on here in the high season. We descended the steep staircase, trudging not through sand but through soft, loose gravel, which proved surprisingly tiring. Still, it's worth following the beach. Standing right next to the white cliffs is really breathtaking.
It took a while for us to get enough of it, but eventually we had to move on. When we visited in winter, the bus only ran a few times a day. So we climbed the stairs to follow the trail towards Lulworth Cove. Here too there are spectacular views of the coast and the crescent-shaped Man of War Beach hugging Durdle Door back to back.
The way to Lulworth Cove isn't very far, but it's pretty muddy, so it's better to have good walking shoes. The first few meters have a decent incline, then the path drops steeply until you finally reach your destination. Lulworth Cove is also known for its crescent-shaped beach, which is significantly larger than Man of War Beach. We especially liked the way to the bay, there are small cottages here that could almost be used as a film set. In the pretty but small town you will also find pubs, hotels and souvenir shops. By the way, there was a lot going on at noon. For us, Lulworth Cove was the perfect end point of the hike - if only because the Jurassic Coaster stops here, which took us comfortably back to Weymouth.
Weymouth attractions: what awaits you in the port town of Dorset
Weymouth is one of those typical English seaside towns with a sweeping promenade, lots of fish and chip places and a pretty shopping street. There is also a beautiful little harbour, which is best known for its colorful facades. So Weymouth has a lot more to offer besides the spectacular coastline. Above all, you can eat well here. It's teeming with pubs, cafes and restaurants. Fish and chips in particular are available on practically every corner. And what I've noticed so often in England also applies here: almost every pub or restaurant offers an impressive selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Even full English breakfasts and fish and chips are plant-based. If you want to enjoy a particularly pretty view while eating, you should head for the harbour.
Other destinations include the North Fort, a Victorian harbor fort that also houses a museum, and visit Sandworld, where you can admire the most spectacular sand castles and sculptures in the world.
Accommodation in Weymouth
Hotel, Airbnb or bed and breakfast - the choice is yours. There is something for every taste and every budget. We have decided on a small and inexpensive bed and breakfast. Directly on the promenade, with a fantastic view of the sea and the white cliffs. For us this was the perfect decision. And where I let all my memories flow into this report, my heart really warms. Because although we only spent three days in Weymouth and on the Jurassic Coast, it was a holiday that I will remember for a long time. So I can only recommend that you explore beautiful Dorset and the Jurassic Coast yourself.
Weymouth (Dorset) and the Jurassic Coast with dogs
We made the trip to Weymouth without our dog Frieda. However, since southern England is very dog-friendly and all activities would have been possible with Frieda without any problems, I can only recommend this trip to dog owners.