The Jurassic Coast, Dorset
Located near the village of West Lulworth, Lulworth Cove is a popular tourist location that attracts 500,000 visitors every year. Its unique formation gives a glimpse into the unique jurassic formations synonymous with the Dorset coast and is classified as a World Heritage Site.
We look at what Lulworth Cove and the surrounding areas have to offer day visitors and staycationers along with some of our top picks on places to stay.
Lulworth Cove is accessed via a winding road that takes you through the chocolate box thatched cottages of West Lulworth towards the main car park where visitors can park and decamp before walking the short distance to the cove. Due to its popularity (especially during the summer holiday season), it’s recommended to get to the car park as early as possible but there’s plenty of overflow parking for late arrivals.
Lulworth Cove is one of those unique locations that is a draw for a multitude of visitors. From those looking to swim, paddle board and canoe around its 150-million-year-old shoreline through to walkers exploring the miles of footpaths and landscapes of the South West Coast Path. The cove also provides a treasure trove of fossils for the eager eyed collector.
From the car park visitors can take the trek up the hillside towards Durdle Door which is one of the most famous rock arches in the world. It’s quite a walk, but visitors are treated to an array of picturesque views over the cove and Lulworth Cove’s unique coastlines. For the eagle eyed, it’s possible to view cruise ships towards Weymouth and the out island-like outcrop home of the Portland Bill Lighthouse. If the walk seems a bit daunting many choose to park at the Durdle Door Car Park, located by the Holiday Park and take a short meander down to Man O’War Beach.
Stair Hole is a smaller cove than Lulworth and is characterised by folded limestone strata that are visible from the safety of the viewing platforms, or for the more adventurous the pebble beach below – although we recommend keeping an eye out for the odd native adder that finds sanctuary within the secluded grassy areas that line Stair Hole.
The Fossil Forest is the remains of an ancient, submerged forest and is accessed via the east side of Lulworth Cove. Again, it can be quite a climb to view the sight, but it does give you an insight into the superb geographical identity of how the area has been formed. It also gives you a great opportunity to take in the stunning views from the wide ledge cliff top.
If you’re planning to stay, then there are plenty of day trips and places to explore nearby. Castle lovers will enjoy visiting the local Lulworth Castle or National Trust’s Corfe Castle. With plenty of activities throughout the year, it’s worth checking before you travel to see if they are planning any festivals or events. Corfe Castle is located in Corfe and this charming village is home to the Corfe Railway which steams its way through the landscape. The railway museum is free to visit and charts the demise and lovingly restored station that transports travellers back to the era of steam travel.
The Tank Museum provides a great escape for military and transport enthusiasts and Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre was founded by Jim Cronin and provides a 65 acre sanctuary for primates. The work at the centre was documented in the Monkey Life series and highlights the importance of rehabilitation and rescue of some of the most vulnerable species around the globe.
While many prepare their own picnics, there are plenty of spots to grab food and drink, including The Boat Shed Café which offers a range of meals, snacks and homemade cakes and provides the perfect vantage point to watch the bustle of the cove. If you are a cream tea fan, then The Dolls House is a charming little cottage that has been converted to serve cream teas, ice creams and traditional sweets.
Ice-cream aficionados will love the choice of superbly creamy options from the Lulworth Ice Cream Parlour (who also provide a dog friendly scoop of this icy desert), or Purbeck Icecream which is served from the small shop by Lulworth Lodge.
For those looking to sample some traditional seafood dishes, Finleys Fish & Chips serves a range of seaside favourites. Mussels, crabs and seabass are a recurring favourite on the menu at Lulworth Lodge, although booking a table before you arrive is advisable due to its popularity. Looking for something a bit spicier? The Castle Inn provides a curry to tickle the taste buds and is located a short walk through the village.
Lulworth Cove’s popularity can be seen in the diverse audiences that draw it every year. From families, couples or adventurers, it really is a place that fires the imagination, provides tranquility and is the perfect backdrop to create cherished memories.