Lulworth Cove and the Jurrassic Coast:a walk through time

lulworth cove

Lulworth Cove has none of the sand that attracts holiday makers to Bournemouth and Poole.No you come here for other reasons,not least the symmetry of the bay and it's dramatic location.

Lulworth Cove lies to the South West of Poole and can be reached in about 45 minutes by car.The village that sits by the cove is West Lulworth and is reached by taking the B3071 where it leaves the A352 just west of Wareham. The nearest station is at Wool which is 5 miles to the north.There is a bus service though the times vary depending on the time of year.Call Linkrider Buses 01305 834 730 for the latest information.

After a steep descent down past the Lulworth Army camp,you enter the village and will notice the large car park to the right.There is really nowhere else to park in West Lulworth except in this car park unless you want to leave your car some way up the road and walk.

The cost is £2.50 for up to two hours,£4 for up to four hours and £5 over that.Hold onto your ticket when you leave as it will still be valid if you decide to go onto Durdle Door

If you come on a motorbike however ,it is free,coaches also.

After parking your vehicle you will see a Heritage Centre in front of you which details the natural and human history of the area.

Limestone forms the most resistant barrier against the sea but over millions of years a stream breached this limestone at Lulworth, and allowed the sea to erode the much softer Wealden Beds behind the limestone.

The limestone is known as Portland stone and is famous for being used by Sir Christopher Wren in the construction of St Pauls Catherdral after it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in1666

Eventually the seas hits the harder chalk forming the high cliff we see to day.The result is a perfect horse shoe shaped bay that receives thousand of visitors a year.At the top of these cliffs are the remains of Bindon Hill Fort which is thought to have been built during the Bronze Age.

It is some 125 hectares in size and 45000 tonnes of chalk was moved to create the 2.8 kms of ditches and ramparts the were needed to defend the settlement.

West Lulworth's main industry was once fishing but it has a strong military presence also.In 1916 the War Office started testing a new device ,the tank. To this day extensive tank testing and training happens on the land behind the Cove.Most days you will see red flags flying,showing that firing is taking place.

Now the village has been given over to tourism.To cater for all these visitors a number of hotels and bed & breakfasts have sprung up.

For the cheapest accommodation go to the Youth Hostel located in West Lulworth about half a mile from the Cove.Prices start at £9.95 per adult per night.Go here for the YHA web site.

Near to the Cove itself there are numerous other B and Bs and hotels such as the Lulworth Cove Inn which enjoys a prominent position opposite the Heritage Centre.Prices start at £55 per night for single occupancy,all rooms have ensuite bathrooms.

For local seafood why not head on down to Bishop's Bistro & Bar which is on the left as you walk down from the car park to the Cove.Here they serve mussels with just about anything.Mussels and chili, for example.

Eventually you will reach the end of the road and arrive at the Cove.Don't expect sand here ,it is all pebbles,but the symmetry of the bay is worth the visit.Even on a stormy day the narrow entrance to the bay ensures an almost pond like surface.You can walk round the cove to the eastern side either along the beach or round the top of the cliff which follows the South West Coast Path.

Watch out for the red flags though as these are raised when the Army is firing off.

On walking back to the car park turn left up a footpath which leads to Stair Hole which is another Lulworth Cove in the making.Also here is a stone which was unveiled by the Prince of Wales in 2002 to mark the recognition by UNESCO of the Dorset and East Devon Coast as a World Heritage Site.

In joins other sites such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon.Good company indeed.

As you head back to the car park you can stop off in the Fossil shop which is part of the Heritage Centre or head into the wine shop.Here Lyme Bay Winery sells it's unusual wines made from apricot and cherries amongst others.

If you are feeling energetic you can start climbing the hill to the west of the car park which leads to Durdle Door a journey on foot of about 1km.For the less energetic get back in your car and head back up the B3070 and turn left by the Post Office. After about 1km look for the Durdle Door Holiday Park sign on the left.

You go through this holiday park to reach the car park where you can walk down to Durdle Door,a journey of about 10 minutes. The descent is steep. Your parking ticket from Lulworth Cove is valid here too.

If you are really adventurous then why not head on out to sea on a kayak.There is a kayak tour shop opposite the Heritage Centre next to a fish and chip shop.To learn more go here.

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