Along the Jurassic Coast: Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door

When visiting the UK’s Isle of Purbeck there’s no better way of tiring the kids out than dragging them along on a coastal walk.  There are few places as picturesque as the Jurassic Coast, and the stretch between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door is one of the prettiest parts. 

The Jurassic Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It stretches for 95 miles from Dorset to East Devon and is a geologist’s dream;  telling the story of 250 million years of evolution. The rocks which form its cliffs were laid down in layers which are clearly visible today.  The coastline dates from the Mesozoic Era, covering the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.

As any five year old will be able to tell you, this was the time of the dinosaurs.  Exploring along this coastline is a great way to learn about this period of pre-history.  So if you’re lucky enough to get a sunny day, head down to West Lulworth and the Coastal Paths.

West Lulworth and the Cove

You can start your walk in West Lulworth; a tiny but beautiful village.  Its narrow winding streets are lined with thatched cottages and there are few shops on the main road, only a couple of pubs.

Weave your car through the streets and park in the main car park near the Cove (this is expensive; £9 for the whole day).  Just by the car park you’ll find a cafe and some shops so you can stock up on refreshments here if you haven’t brought your own picnic.

Before you go anywhere, make sure you take a look in the Visitor’s Centre.   You can brush up on your geography in here and see how the coast was formed millions of years ago.  You can also pick up useful information on tide times and activities in the area.

Lulworth Cove
Looking across Lulworth Cove

Head on down to the sea and you’ll find yourself in Lulworth Cove; an almost perfectly circular bay surrounded by white  cliffs.  The turquoise sea wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean.  At low tides kids will love poking about in the rock pools.

If you walk along the pebbly beach you might be able to spot some fossils, but please be careful to stay away from the cliffs as rockfalls happen frequently.

The Coastal Path

Looking back to Lulworth Cove
Looking back to Lulworth Cove

Walk back towards the car park and you’ll see a white path heading up a steep hill.  This is the path to Durdle Door, to the west of Lulworth Cove.  It’s a bit of a trek for very small children (2.5 miles) so if you don’t think your kids will make it you can drive to Durdle Door instead – it’s just five minutes away by car.

Jurassic Coast walk
The Isle of Portland

You’ll get some wonderful views back over Lulworth Cove from this path, and out to sea too where you can see as far as the Isle of Portland and the famous Chesil Beach.

Jurassic Coast walk
Watch out for the locals

Watch out for the local wildlife on this path – cows roam freely.  You should also keep your kids away from the cliff edge as there aren’t any barriers.

Man O’War and Durdle Door beaches

Man O'War Bay
Man O’War Bay

The first sheltered bay that you’ll see as you walk down the cliff towards Durdle Door is Man O’War Bay.  You can swim and paddle safely here, or catch some rare British rays on the beach, a mix of sand and shingle.

Durdle Door
Durdle Door’s famous arch

The star attraction of the walk, you’ll find Durdle Door in the next bay.  This is one of the most famous sights in the UK; a beautiful rock arch formed 10,000 years ago.  From the clifftop that overlooks the beach you’ll see old sea stacks which were once arches, and at the far end of the beach, a new arch is being formed.

Durdle Door
Look along the coast to see stacks and caves

Follow the steep path down to access both Man O’War and Durdle Door beaches.  You should make sure you’ve got good shoes on as it’s not an easy path, and small children will need help.  It’s worth the effort once you’ve reached the beaches!

The beach at Durdle Door is pebbly but very comfortable, though it’s best to bring rugs or a towel to sit on.  Kids will have a whale of a time playing here; ours always enjoy playing with the stones and paddling in the sea.

Durdle Door
Surprisingly comfortable pebbles at Durdle Door beach

You can swim in the sea as it’s quite a sheltered bay.  Be aware that the sea floor drops away quickly so it gets very deep only a few feet from the shore, so Man O’War Bay is safer.  There are no lifeguards.

After fun playing on the beach and the walk back to Lulworth Cove, your little ones (and you) should be exhausted.  Job done!

Other things to do in Lulworth Cove

Jurassic Coast
A view across the Army firing ranges.

You can also walk east along the coast path from Lulworth Cove.  This path will take you to the Fossil Forest and Mupe Bay, two miles from Lulworth.  The paths are quite steep so may not be suitable for very small children.  You’ll need to check that the Army ranges aren’t firing when you want to visit as the path will be closed.

There are lots of activities for families with older children, such as guided bike rides and coasteering; a guided adventure tour.  Take a look on Lulworth’s website for details and how to book.

Lulworth also has a castle and grounds.  The castle certainly looks impressive from the outside.  However the inside is empty as the castle was destroyed in a fire nearly a hundred years ago, and only the outside has been restored.  There’s a kids playground and plenty of castle grounds to explore.  The castle and estate are often hired for weddings so check that there isn’t a function on before you travel.


One of the prettiest coastal walks in the UK is between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door on Dorset's Jurassic Coast. Perfect for wearing out the kids.
One of the prettiest coastal walks in the UK is between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. Perfect for wearing out the kids.
One of the prettiest coastal walks in the UK is between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door on Dorset's Jurassic Coast. Perfect for wearing out the kids.
One of the prettiest coastal walks in the UK is between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. Perfect for wearing out the kids.

46 thoughts on “Along the Jurassic Coast: Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door

  1. Natalie says:

    What a glorious place!! Fun and beautiful. We always travel with the kids, too, and they would love this!! My husband is a geologist and we often get a lesson on how the places were formed. Adding this to our list of places to see!

    • Emily Cole says:

      There are loads of educational opportunities around here – I bet your husband would love it! I can’t wait to take ours fossil hunting in the area. They’re too young right now.

  2. Sonja says:

    I’ve wanted to go here for so long and now your photos have just made me want to make it happen even sooner! My husband and I keep putting it off, because he went there as a child, but I want to go haha. And although it looks like a great place for kids, I’d like to go sooner too! Coasteering sounds really fun too.

  3. James says:

    I had never heard of this UNESCO site in the UK, the Jurassic coast. Lulworth Cove is so picturesque, it’s like the Mediterranean but on the green banks of England. I’d love to walk from Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door on the coastal paths, the weather was perfect on the day you did it, the pictures are stunning!

  4. Iza Abao says:

    Your daughter is so adorable. The Isles of Purbeck and Portland are stunning! I like your first photo a lot. Your kids will grow up with lots of memorable experiences. I do not have a family yet but when I do, I’d love to travel with them always.

    • Emily Cole says:

      Aww thanks Iza. We hope that the kids will look back on all of this fondly! It’s a good education for them in any case. Dorset is a gorgeous part of the UK.

  5. Claire Summers says:

    I’ ashamed to say I have never visited the Jurassic Cost. Especially as I lived in Plymouth for 14 years and drove past god knows how many times! I always wanted to go but just never found the time. It looks incredible and seeing your images and reading your post had made me kick myself even more! Next time I’m back in the UK I really must make it a priority to go.

  6. Kristine says:

    The Lulworth Cove looks amazing! It doesn’t even look like it’s in the UK with the turquoise waters and gorgeous landscape. I can see why the Jurassic Coast is a UNESCO site!
    The Durdle Door arch reminds me of the similar rock formations in Etretat in France. Beautiful!

    • Emily Cole says:

      The water is really clear and blue there – definitely the loveliest sea I’ve seen in the UK. It’s very similar to Etretat except that arch is bigger!

  7. Sarah says:

    I’ve always wanted to visit the Jurassic Coast, especially Durdle Door. It looks like the perfect staycation. I would definitely have to jump off the arch. Sounds like it’s deep enough for it!

  8. Carol Colborn says:

    This is the part of England we missed on our road trip of 2014. We should go back to this Jurassic Coast from Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door!

  9. jo says:

    Some of my favourite coastline – so beautiful and so much to do. Your photos are fabulous I want to go there right now! #Fearlessfamtrav

  10. Elisa says:

    What a beautiful place! The first picture reminds me of Etrerat, on Monet’s painting . . . And I like the idea of combining coastal walks with more lazy moments on the beach, it seems like your kids loved this day out!

  11. Yukti says:

    Picture of Durdle door and arch is stunning. Lulworth cove really looks like worth visiting place for nature and history lovers. I love thos dinosaurs history and pebble beach here.

  12. Sandy N Vyjay says:

    The Jurassic coast looks so fascinating. It is indeed a geologists paradise, but also a great place for kids and families to revel in the natural beauty. The rock formations look so intriguing. In fact one of the huge rock formations looks like a dinosaur to me.

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