Coast,  England,  South West,  Travel

The best way to visit Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

Although Durdle Door beach isn’t the most visited in Dorset, it certainly is the most recognisable. Hundreds of people flock to this corner of the country to make the walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, and this part of the Dorset coast was the first we put on our itinerary for the holiday. Tt had to be one of the first things we did when we actually made it to the county.

Dan and I decided to make our way to Durdle Door first thing in the morning, so that we could arrive as soon as the car park opened. During the spring and summer of 2020, the area had been exceptionally busy with visitors, so we were concerned that we might end up without a parking space. Oh how wrong we were! Arriving at 9am, we were the third car in the car park, and made our way down to the beach relatively alone.

After descending a fairly steep slope, we reached a circular cliff face, which we later realised was Man O’War Bay. I instinctively pulled Ted a little tighter on the lead as I had visions of him hurtling over the edge of the cliff. Durdle Door wasn’t much further away.

Related: The best dog-friendly things to do in Dorset

In moments, we were at the top of a staircase, leading down to the beach. I didn’t realise how steep they’d be, and that the beach at the bottom wasn’t sand: it was shingle. Neither things spoilt the view though.

View of Durdle Door from the cliff above

Even though the weather was cold and a little drizzly for an August morning, we spent an hour or so sitting on the beach, enjoying the sights. We kept Ted on a long lead to let him explore a little. Neither of us were brave enough to let him off so close to the sea – a bit daft really, since Ted is definitely not a fan of the water. As time ticked by, the beach started to fill with more and more visitors, including an inquisitive beagle off the lead who seemed particularly interested in Ted.

Ted on Durdle Door beach

That was our cue to leave Durdle Door. Dan and I aren’t really ones for sitting on packed beaches, so we made our way back up the ridiculously steep slope to the car park. I was about six months pregnant at the time, and found it quite a feat.

But I was not prepared for the walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove. Most people walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, and we quickly discovered why. The walk along the cliff revealed just how low the Cove was, and if I was concerned about a steep climb from Durdle Door, I was in for it now. The cliff and pregnancy did not do well together at all, made even worse by the sun coming out and causing us to sweat.

View of Lulworth Cove from the cliff path.

Once we reached Lulworth Cove, we were knackered and desperate for an ice cream. We found some unoccupied picnic benches outside the visitor centre (closed due to Covid) and took a short break.

The Cove was smaller than I expected, and incredibly busy. We found it hard to navigate the main street for it was full of visitors like us, nosing at shops and queuing for service. This might have been made worse by Covid restrictions – there were limits to how many people could go into shops, so people were gathered on the street.

At least we could still spot the beauty in the area. A pretty little brook runs down to the sea, and there are a collection of cute holiday homes that I wished we had booked. It kind of had a pirate ambiance that I quite liked. We grabbed ourselves an ice cream – and got one for Ted – and basked in the afternoon sunshine.

Ultimately, you’ll need to make a choice: do you want an empty beach or an empty Cove? We much prefer the idea of an emptier beach, so think that seeing Durdle Door first is the best way to visit.


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