Durdle Door, Lulworth, Dorset
Everyone’s heard of Durdle Door in Dorset because it’s one of the most famous and most photographed parts of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. A 200ft high arch of natural limestone stands almost vertically in the sea, like some enormous dragon with it’s humped back and its snout in the water; it’s a spectacular sight. But also, this part of the coastline is just SO beautiful and that’s why so many people come here; this part of the South West Coast Path is the busiest of the entire 630 mile trail! That’s actually the best way to get here though, to walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door which will take about 30 minutes and though there’s a very steep part you’re rewarded with breathtaking coastal views.
The beach at Durdle Door is of pebble and shingle and is quite secluded although like all beautiful places, it gets madly busy in the summer. Bear in mind there are no kiosks on the beach so it’s not for everyone; think more along the lines of a natural cove for quiet enjoyment, which is how it should be. It’s a wonderful place to spend a day or a few hours but you need to be organised and bear in mind a few important factors, like the access for a start. There’s no beachside car park – the only one is at the holiday park on the clifftop and you have to pay to use it. From there it’s a 15 minute walk down a steep path and at least 140 steps, so if you have mobility problems or aren’t terribly fit that might well be an issue (think getting back up as well!).
Other things you need to remember when you’re planning a day at Durdle Door is that the nearest loos are up on the clifftop and when you’re desperate or you’ve got young children who need to go, a 15 minute walk isn’t great! The beach is backed by vast chalk cliffs and at the bottom natural caves have formed; whilst it’s very tempting to go exploring it’s not advisable as rock falls are not uncommon. The beach slopes quite steeply in places and there’s no lifeguard so the little ones will need to be well supervised; whilst the waters are perfect for a paddle, swimming should only be attempted by strong swimmers as the undertow can be very powerful. During the 2020 pandemic you may have seen pictures of people jumping from the arch into the sea, which isn’t actually allowed. Still, you can’t stop some foolhardy folk though several have ended up in hospital with life threatening injuries, or even dead, so it’s not a good idea at all.
It may seem like a list of don’t do this, don’t do that, but it’s just about understanding the kind of place that Durdle Door is. It’s a beauty spot, it’s one of the most incredible places on the South Coast and should be respected as such. Be nice, be kind, be considerate; take your rubbish home with you, pick up your dog poo (there aren’t any bins on the beach anyway).
If you’re not so mobile and the walk down to the beach is out of the question you can see the arch from the viewing point which is a short stroll from the car park and is accessible by all terrain wheelchairs and mobility scooters.
Dogs are welcome on the beach year round, except for after 9pm when the beach is closed to all.
All information correct at the time of writing