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 Jurassic Coast in Dorset

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Dorset & the World Heritage Jurassic Coast: Holiday June 2016 - page 1

So it was off to delightful Dorset to visit some places we missed on our previous 2005 Dorset visit, with some wonderful walking along Dorset's dramatic Jurassic coastline.  That included the spectacular Lulworth Cove, Stair Hole and, along the South West Coast Path (SWCP), to Durdle Door where we learnt all about these popular World Heritage geological wonders.  Then a visit to Chesil Beach for some fossil hunting and a walk to the Isle of Portland following several old railway trails - the Rodwell Trail and Merchants' Railway.  Away from the Jurassic Coast we enjoyed an inland trail walking part of the Purbeck Way from Corfe Castle to Wareham.
This is page one of two.
Dorset 1: Jurassic Coast | Dorset 2: Attractions
 

Lulworth Cove - showing trail to Durdle Door
We did our prior research and parked a short walk away in West Lulworth village, and our first sight of Lulworth Cove was of the huge and pricey car park and the SWCP trail to Durdle Door snaking away over the headland.  First up was a visit to the...

Lulworth Cove Heritage Centre in Dorset
...informative Lulworth Cove Heritage Centre with enlightening exhibitions showcasing Lulworth's Jurassic history and geology.  Outside were numerous school parties crowding around the various rock types on display.  After munching our picnic we made...

Road past the Lulworth Cove Inn
...our way down to the cove itself past the Lulworth Cove Inn ... well, we did pop in for a swift half to escape those hoards of geology students for a while!  The cove was formed around 10,000 years ago by...

Jurassic coast Dorset: Mike at a Lulworth Cove viewpoint
...glacial meltwater punching a hole through the hard Portland Stone, allowing the sea in to erode the softer Purbeck, Wealdon and Greensand, up to the Chalk rocks behind.  Just along from Lulworth Cove is...

Looking at Stair Hole on Dorset's Jurassic coast
...Stair Hole which is another cove in the making.  Here the sea has breached the tough Portland Stone and is now eroding the softer rocks.  And check out those awesome rock strata layers almost turned vertical by land movements - yes, the famous Lulworth Crumple.  Onwards then...

The South West Coast Path from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door
...and a rather strenuous one-mile walk on a hot June day along Dorset's Jurassic coastline from Lulworth Cove over the headland to Durdle Door.  An extremely popular well-trodden part of the South West Coast Path, it has a surface built to take the pounding of all those Dorset visitors' feet (including...

Jurassic coast: walking to Durdle Door in Dorset
...the geology students).  Before long the trail levelled out and Belinda was relieved to see we were now half-way to Durdle Door and the steep incline was over.  So presently we arrived at...

Selfie at Durdle Door, Dorset
...Durdle Door and time for our customary holiday selfie.  The massive rock arch of Durdle Door is a world famous geological wonder and admired by visitors from the world over.  On the return...

Dorset's scenic Jurassic coastline
...leg we stopped to admire this wonderful view along Dorset's scenic Jurassic Coast.  Needless to say we nailed a number of Earthcaches at both Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.  And here's another...

View of West Lulworth and Lulworth Cove
...fantastic view on the way back showing the setting of West Lulworth, the cove and some rather expensive looking properties sitting pretty on the Jurassic Coast hillside.  Hungry after all that walking, we...

Fish and chips at at Lulworth Cove visitor centre
...purchased some yummy fish and chips at the café at Lulworth Cove before heading back to the Dorset holiday cottage... but not before another selfie; that's two in one day, steady on!  See our tourist resources for more on Dorset's Jurassic coast and geology.

Dorset's Jurassic Coast - the Chesil Beach Centre
Chesil Beach is at the centre of the UNESCO designated World Heritage Jurassic Coast and it was here we headed for the start of another delightful Dorset walk, along several disused railway lines to Portland.  Our pic shows the Chesil Beach Centre...

The Jurassic Coast displays inside the Chesil Beach Centre
...where we studied the displays to learn about the geology of this 18-mile long barrier beach and its abundant wildlife.  Facilities at the Chesil Beach Centre include the Taste cafe, gift shop, and education facilities for all those school parties.  The visitor centre's located just south of Weymouth on the...

Portland Beach Road causeway in Dorset
...Portland Beach Road causeway and it was here we started our walk to the Isle of Portland, the route of the Rodwell Trail, a disused railway route along the shores of Portland Harbour.  The railway was built in 1865 to move the renowned Portland Stone to Weymouth.  We'll return to Chesil Beach later but...

Tom the torpedo at Ferry Bridge, Portland
...upon reaching Portland we walked alongside Portland Marina, the venue for the London 2012 Olympic Games sailing events.  This torpedo, called 'Tom', marks the site here at Ferry Bridge of a previous-era torpedo factory.  Onwards and - gulp -...

Merchant’s incline at Portland, Dorset
...upwards and the start of the Merchants’ railway route.  Built in 1826, the steep Merchant’s Incline that we were about to walk up transported the quarried stone down, with the weight of the descending loaded wagons pulling the empty ones back up.  Well,...

Portland: resting on the Merchant’s incline
...a rest was in order at the top of the Merchant’s Incline after our hot and sticky climb before diverting slightly to find a geocache and admire the terrific...

View towards Portland Harbour and Chesil Beach
...view back towards Portland Harbour and Chesil Beach from outside the Verne Citadel.  Within this prison is the Jail House Café, run by the inmates but...

Merchants’ railway route on Portland
...unfortunately we missed the opening times!  After rejoining the Merchants’ railway and passing under this splendid stone bridge we walked along a (thankfully!) level part the trail which passed through the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest)...

Portland: the Verne Local Nature Reserve
...Verne Local Nature Reserve.  Once a quarry extracting Portland Stone, it's now a wildlife sanctuary.  Ahead we could see the distinctive row of three bridges that marked the start of the Yeates Incline, but at this point it was time to head back...

Jurassic Coast: on top of Chesil Beach
...to Chesil Beach.  This amazing shingle bank of 180 billion flint and chert pebbles is really a tombolo as it joins two bits of land together; the pebbles varying in size from potato-sized near Portland to pea-sized at Bridport.  Our pic here is looking south along Chesil Beach towards Portland.  Before we...

Finding fossils on Chesil Beach in Dorset
...left Chesil Beach Mike just couldn't resist having a look for fossils - and he quickly found one!  For the lowdown on how Chesil Beach was formed (clue: longshore drift), and the geology of Dorset's fantastic World Heritage Jurassic Coast, check our tourist resources; also our previous Dorset visit here in 2005.

Purbeck Way, view of Corfe Castle in Dorset
Another day, another Dorset walk, and this time inland from the Jurassic Coast.  Walking a 6-mile part of the Purbeck Way from Corfe Castle to Wareham, we admired this delightful view of the castle ruins while munching our picnic.  The route headed along...

Woodland walk on the Purbeck Way
...the Purbeck Ridge before dropping down through farmland then going through this wonderful woodland.  It next passed by a flooded disused clay pit, the Blue Pool, but unfortunately we missed a turn along the Purbeck Way and bypassed it!  Anyway, before...

Purbeck Way ponies at Stoborough Heath
...long we crossed the tracks of the Swanage Railway's new extension at Creech Bottom, then encountered these friendly ponies on Stoborough Heath.  Dorset's Purbeck Way also runs south to the South West Coast Path and Jurassic Coast, but the northern section we were walking presently arrived...

Wareham in Dorset at the River Frome
...at Wareham alongside the splendid setting of the River Frome and the Priory Meadow nature reserve.  Here we followed the Frome to Wareham Quay and the end of an enjoyable walk.  Join us as we go on to visit some more Dorset attractions - the Royal Signals Museum and Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum >>>.

You might like to see our previous Dorset visit to Corfe Castle and Swanage Railway.