Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove have received some pretty bad publicity this summer: reports of overcrowding, traffic and littering, as well as numerous people needing to be rescued from the sea. It should be enough to put anyone off... but the UK's most recognisable coastal arch still remains a popular tourist attraction, and for good reason.
As someone who loves photography and takes my camera everywhere I go, Durdle Door has been on my bucket list for years. Waiting until September, when the schools have re-opened and the majority of people are back at work, proved a great time to visit this place of outstanding natural beauty.
My friend and I arrived at Durdle Door around mid-morning. Even though it was a Saturday there were still plenty of spaces left in the main car park, which is only a couple of minutes away from the main vantage point on the cliff that overlooks the famous arch. A short walk to photography paradise where I was able to capture that iconic image for myself. From here most people take the steep steps down to Durdle Door beach with its golden sands and turquoise waters, but we opted for the neighbouring Man O' War beach. Although the beach itself is smaller and mainly comprised of shingle, the bay is sheltered by a rocky barrier and the sea is quite shallow and crystal clear. Perfect for a swim!
Top tip: wait for a mild but sunny day. You'll get the stunning views and clear waters, without the crowds!
Next item of the day was the walk across the clifftop and down to Lulworth Cove. It's a beautiful walk along a well-marked footpath, with a gorgeous view out across the sea. It was fairly busy but not overcrowded, so the walk didn't take us too long. At the bottom of the hill the path flattens out and there are a few oldey-worldy little pubs and cafes (and, of course, the obligatory souvenir shops) that line the road before you arrive out onto the cove itself. It's a lovely little spot to sit and unwind, soaking up the atmosphere and relaxing for a while in preparation for the climb back up the hill. Oh yes, the hill...
My friend and I are both physically fit and very active, and we had been very self-assured as we smugly watched all the people struggling up the hill, gasping and moaning with each step, whilst we were on our way down. Well, now it was time for karma to make an appearance! Approaching the bottom of the hill our confidence waned somewhat and we regretted our underestimation of the climb: by the time we reached the top we were out of breath and sweating profusely. But there was a definite sense of satisfaction in knowing that we had earned our fish and chips on the beach that afternoon.
Weymouth is the most sizeable nearby town, with an award-winning beach and a quaint harbour to mooch along, along with a distinctive clock tower that is visible from the entire length of the promenade. The centre is small and easy to get around, with plenty of options for food and drink. We had some great dinners at Nautico Lounge, in their cozy outdoor area, and at Enzo Ristorante, where the Italian staff and authentic food were reminiscent of a previous trip to Rome. I was also pleased to finally be able to go out for some cocktails for the first time since lockdown, with The Nook and Kika Beach being good choices. They were also conveniently located right next to our accommodation at The Leam Hotel, which was great value for money given the generally expensive prices at this time of year. Located right on the seafront, you can walk out of the hotel and straight into the sea for a refreshing dip before breakfast!
It was a long drive and a bit of a flying visit to the Jurassic Coast, but well worth it for the weekend. If Durdle Door is on your must-see list of places to visit then don't get put off by recent events - just make sure you pick the right time to go!