Visiting Lulworth: The Essential Guide to Durdle Door and Beyond29 Aug 2020
Lulworth is one of those places which comes alive when the sun comes out. Visiting Lulworth is always unforgettable! Famous for the iconic limestone arch of Durdle Door, and the horseshoe shaped Lulworth Cove, yet infamous for the litter and dramatic helicopter rescues, Lulworth always makes the news at least once per year.
Yet, there is much more to Lulworth than most day-trippers could ever imagine. All within a 3 mile radius, you can find incredible geology (such as the Lulworth crumple at Stair Hole, and the Fossil Forest), fascinating history (think smugglers, ghosts and royalty) all set within two picturesque chocolate box villages filled with thatched cottages, some of which are older than the United States of America.
Here’s our essential guide to Lulworth – all the insider tips and local knowledge which will make your time in Lulworth even more enjoyable, and that will give you a more authentic experience and hopefully away from the crowds.
This beach really needs no introduction. Heavily crowded in the summer, you’ll have the beach to yourself from November to April. Early mornings and late evenings are also quiet (no wild camping, fires or BBQs allowed). Don’t forget to take your litter home with you. Jumping from the rocks is strictly prohibited due to the deceptively safe-looking water hiding a rocky doom and strong currents.
Things to bear in mind while visiting this stunning, insta-worthy beach include that it is a fairly long, steep walk from the car park down a gravelly track which can be slippery. Please wear suitable footwear (not flip flops!) and if you’re bringing a baby/toddler consider a baby carrier as it is not pushchair friendly.
Once you’re on the beach, there are no facilities, and it’s a long walk back to the toilets by the car park for a wee – so bear this in mind.
The site of smuggling activity, bringing valuable commodities like wine and brandy from overseas, and stashing in the numerous caves around the beach, you can clearly see how smugglers would have found Lulworth so ideal for their activities when the tide is out. A fab spot for crabbing in the rock pools that are revealed at low tide, be aware that the rocks are slippery with seaweed.
Very interestingly shaped, visiting Lulworth Cove is not to be missed. It’s been a popular tourist destination since at least 1970s with lots of changes since then including the removal of a miniature boating pond, and a landslide demolishing a beach side cafe. Its popularity is only seeming to increase, however it’s easy to have the whole beach to yourself – save for a dog walker or two – outside the summer holidays and other peak seasons like the May bank holiday.
First thing in the morning is a magical time at the Cove for watching the local fishermen bringing in their boats and haul for the day.
When visiting, make sure to take note of the high and low tide times – these can often be found on a noticeboard outside one of the local cafes.
There is a walk (on the opposite side of the beach to the usual visitor access) up a set of steps to a variety of interesting places. Here you can explore, and find an abandoned military owned house, a stunning viewpoint bench from the very top, and a ‘Fossil Forest’ a little way along the clifftop.
If you’re visiting for the calm waters, there’s no better way to see the Cove than with a SUP board.
Stair Hole is a fascinating crumple of rock next door to the Cove which can be accessed via the large green – this is also the perfect spot for a picnic at high tide which can often inhibit access to the beach.
Within the MOD firing ranges, is the more dramatic version of Lulworth Cove. The playground of the rich, since for a lot of the year it’s accessible only by boat (or Sunseeker!), this is a really quiet spot with lovely water and secluded coves and caves to explore. It’s a long walk from either Lulworth Cove or from the village of West Lulworth, but well worth the trip.
St Oswalds Bay
Accessible via a hidden footpath at Lulworth Cove, is also the part of the beach a bit further on from Man O’War Bay. You can also get here via a long walk along the stony Man O’War beach but it can also be cut off by the tide.
The only part of the coast you can see from East Lulworth – but the actual beach is inaccessible. Still a lovely walk and a great location for a picnic with a view, this hilly area lies within the MOD land making it a quiet and little-known area to visit when the range walks are open.
Lulworth Castle and Park
The Castle is a wonderful attraction in itself, but the grounds are the most impressive part. At various times of the year you can walk through a bluebell grove, visit a children’s playpark hidden in the woods, and enjoy the company of a friendly flock of sheep which cut the grass over the winter.
Lulworth Lake is a stunning lake in the middle of farmland (accessed via a public right of way) within walking distance of the Castle grounds follow the signs from the grounds to while away hours here in secret fishing hidey holes, watching the water reflect the blue sky surrounded by resident geese and purple rhododendrons.
Super hilly and totally not suitable for pushchairs, flip flops nor cycling (Range Wardens will kick you off if they catch you!) the local Range walks are so called because they sit within MOD firing range. Please check the opening times while planning your trip so as to not be disappointed.
The South West Coast Path joins Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove leading towards the finish point at Sandbanks on one end, or for miles of Jurassic and English coastline towards Minehead at the other end. This makes visiting Lulworth perfectly placed for a stay while walking the path, but be sure to take the time to see Lulworth responsibly and authentically – it’s how we want you to experience it!