Stretching 95 miles between Old Harry Rocks in Dorset, to Orcombe Point in East Devon, the Jurassic Coast – England’s first Natural World Heritage Site – is the most geologically diverse coastline in the world. The exposed cliff sections allow you to look back through 185 million years of time; dinosaur remains have been found here, and it’s a fossil-hunter’s paradise.
With a more recent history of mining, shipwrecks and smuggling, this is a fascinating stretch of coastline. We take in some of its most spectacular scenery, from the renowned natural stone archway of Durdle Door to the beautiful circular Lulworth Cove, as we continually climb and descend the steep hills of the Jurassic Coast. We camp at a lovely campsite a short distance from our route.
After a good breakfast, we transfer (approx. 30 mins) to Durlston Head, a Country Park on the cliffs above Swanage. Setting off, we can pause at the impressive Globe, an enormous limestone sphere engraved with an 1880s world map. There are fabulous views from the Globe, which accompany us as we walk west along the hilly coastline. This area was long used for mining famous Purbeck Marble and Portland Stone, which is evident from the old quarries other remains we pass. The stone was often lowered by crane and taken away by boat, and you can still see ‘rut-ways’ cut into the rock-bed at spots like the beautiful Dancing Ledge. Smuggling stories abound in this area and the rocky coastline had a large number of shipwrecks.
We continue west, over slopes cut into distinctive lynchets, or terraces, dating from medieval times, enabling the steep slopes to be farmed. Seagulls, cormorants and guillemots wheel overhead and wild flowers grow in abundance. Our route dips down to reveal small bays and ledges with access to the sea, before climbing sharply up again … and again, and again! Finally we see Kimmeridge Bay in the distance, with the distinctive Clavell Tower, and our route flattens out a little. The bay is home to the most amazing rock-pool and, tide permitting, there will be time for a paddle or to look for fossils before we are transported back to our campsite (approx. 20 mins).
After breakfast we set out to rejoin the coastal path and continue walking west. It’s not long before we enter Lulworth Ranges – land used as Army firing ranges. Not always open, this region is abundant in flora and fauna that, despite the military presence, has been protected from the development of farming, building and roads. It’s also notable for its steep sections as we follow the contours of the cliffs, but the remarkable views over Worbarrow Bay are worth the effort! Time permitting, we can detour inland to the poignant village of Tyneham, deserted in the 1940s when the War Office commandeered the land. The church and schoolhouse are now museums, and many houses remain. The villagers were not permitted to return once the war had ended.
Continuing, there are more steep sections before us, but we are approaching famous Lulworth Cove, and our first view of this almost perfectly circular bay is breath-taking. Formed by glacial waters melting on the way out to sea, this area of the Jurassic Coast is a geologist’s dream. We have time to take in the amazing twisted rock layers around the cove before conquering our last steep uphill, over the white crumbling limestone cliffs that take us to Durdle Door, a clear arch in the rock carved out by the pounding waves. The sea is remarkably clear here, and it’s an outstandingly beautiful place to finish our tough weekend’s trek. After a group photograph at the finish point, we transfer back to our campsite to pack up and head for home after an exhausting but exhilarating weekend!
Your trip will be led by experienced Discover Adventure leaders and support crew. Our leaders are selected for their knowledge and experience, friendliness and approachability, sense of humour and ability to safely and effectively deal with any situation that arises; they are also trained in first aid. You are in very safe hands with a Discover Adventure leader. The crew will have mobile phones and/or radios where appropriate, medical kit and other safety apparatus where necessary, as well as vehicle support.
Your safety, and that of the rest of the group, is our highest priority. Our trips are designed and planned with safety in mind. Your crew will be equipped with communication devices (eg phones, radios and/or emergency satellite phones), medical kit and other safety apparatus appropriate to the destination. Our leaders always have access to our 24-hour emergency UK back-up. They are responsible for safety on the trip, and will make any changes to the itinerary they deem necessary, should local conditions dictate. Pre-trip administration - such as medical questionnaires and travel insurance as appropriate - is all done with your safety in mind.
We plan our trips around the optimal weather conditions, but could still be exposed to bad weather at any time. It is vital you are prepared for all conditions. We provide you with a detailed packing kit-list on registration, as well as details on useful discounts you are entitled to as a Discover Adventure customer. We are always available if you need advice.
If you are still to buy some kit don’t forget that Cotswold Outdoor, Snow and Rock, Cycle Surgery and Runners Need offer all Discover Adventure participants 15% off any purchases you make with them. Please ask us for the code if you do not have this already.