The south coast doesn’t get more Jurassic than this!
Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are a popular destination for fossil hunters, hikers and photographers wanting to take some incredible images. There’s many ways to discover the area including walking, cycling and coasteering, so whether you want to see them from land or sea, be sure to plan a whole day – you’re going to need it!
Lulworth Cove is just over a half an hour drive from Ulwell Holiday Park and the route is stunning. Head past Corfe Castle and past the nature reserves of Wareham to reach your final destination.
What’s there to see?
The cove itself provides a breathtaking white pebble beach and when low tide hits it unveils a treasure trove of rock pools that are ideal for wildlife spotting and crabbing. A steep walk up the side of the cove and you’ll be able to see the most famous rock arch in the world. Durdle Door is a naturally occurring phenomenon that was created in the chalk cliffs around 10,000 years ago and is very impressive.
For those who want to really feel immersed in the area, you’ll want to book a field session with the Lulworth Rangers. Based in the visitor centre, these folk know everything there is to know about the area and can probably let you into some of its best kept secrets.
What is there to do?
Aside from keeping your eyes peeled for fossils, there’s plenty to do at Lulworth Cove, including boat trips in the summer. These give you a different view of the cove and of course, the stunning stone arch of Durdle Door. Take the natural coastal path up and round to catch the views of Durdle Door and head down on to the beach to get a closer look. On a sunny day it provides the most incredible images and there’s even been dolphins seen nearby.
For those that want to get to know the history of the area, the Heritage Centre should be your first stop. Open between 10am and 5pm it’s free of charge and conveniently located next to the car park. You’ll be able to get information about the unique geology as well as the types of flora and fauna you might catch glimpses of. Take the time to browse the displays and watch the two short films too – you’ll be able to see how the site was formed and how it looks during stormy weather.
Why not try to see if you can tell where different films and tv shows have used the site in their shoots – Nanny McPhee, World War Z and even an episode of Doctor Who have all used the stunning scenery as a backdrop for some fantastic actors.
Need to refuel?
After the hike you’ll most likely need to take a breather and enjoy some food and drink ,and you’re in luck because there is a place to suit everyone. From the rustic, yet authentic The Boat Shed, to The Coffee Bar and even the quaintly-named The Dolls House, the cove does not disappoint. Homemade food is popular and if you’ve got a sweet-tooth then be sure to pick up some homemade fudge or traditional sweets for the journey home.
How accessible are they?
Lulworth Cove can get busy during the summer so if you’re visiting between May and September it might be best to walk, cycle or hop onto public transport. There are parking spaces available, but it’s best to be the early bird if you want to get a spot. There is a fee for parking, however to gain access to the cove or walk up and round to Durdle Door it’s free.
Baby changing facilities and disabled toilets can be found by the car park at the Heritage Centre. Unfortunately there is no wheelchair or pushchair accessibility down to Durdle Door
Dogs are welcome on the beach, however they need to be kept to the left hand side of the slipway leading down to the cove.
When visiting beauty spots in Dorset, including Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door we kindly ask guests to remember to abide by the Countryside Code. We must all work together to ensure the beaches stay litter free and a pleasant place for everyone to relax.
Durdle Door FAQs
Why is Durdle Door so famous?
Durdle Door is famed for its unique geology and unrivalled scenery. The limestone arch is one of the most iconic natural landmarks along the Jurassic Coast and a must visit during a day trip or holiday in Dorset. From the clifftop you can enjoy far-reaching views along the coast and out to the sea. Durdle Door is extremely popular with landscape photographers.
In recent years, Durdle Door has featured in numerous Hollywood and Bollywood movies. It has also topped a number of ‘must visit’ lists and been voted one of the best beaches in the UK.
Is it worth visiting Durdle Door?
Yes, we highly recommend visiting Durde Door during a camping or caravan holiday in Dorset. It can get busy, but it is well worth a visit for the spectacular scenery and unrivalled sea views.
It’s best to arrive early when visiting Durdle Door if you want to beat the crowds. The pay and display car park opens daily from 9am.
What is the best time to visit Durdle Door?
Durdle Door can get busy, especially during the school holidays or warm weather days. We recommend arriving early or visiting late in the evening if you want to escape the crowds. The pay and display car park opens daily from 9am. It closes at 4pm during the winter and 9pm in the summer. It’s important to make sure you have vacated the car park by closing time. There is a gate that is locked every evening.
Do you have to pay for Durdle Door?
No, you do not have to pay to visit the beach at Durdle Door. The beach is open to the public and accessible free of charge. You do however need to pay to park in the car park. You can park at Durdle Door Holiday Park or Lulworth Cove.
Can you swim through Durdle Door?
Yes, it is possible to swim at Durdle Door, but please note the water gets deep very quickly and there are no lifeguards on duty. The beach is quite exposed and there can be a lot of wind and tide in certain conditions. Visitors are urged to exercise caution when entering the water.
Is Durdle Door an easy walk?
No, the walk to Durdle Door is not particularly easy. You will need to follow the coast path from the pay and display car park, which is quite steep in places and runs parallel to the cliff. To get down to the beach you will need to walk down a steep set of steps (approx 90). The route is not suited to people with mobility difficulties.
How long doe you need at Durdle Door?
This depends on what you plan on doing during your visit. If you just want to admire the views 1-2 hours should suffice. You will need at least half a day if you want to relax on the beach.
Do I need to book Durdle Door?
No, you do not need to book to go to Durdle Door. The beach is open to the public and accessible 365 days a year. There is a pay and display car park that works on a first come first served basis. It opens at 9am every morning.
Are there toilets at Durdle Door?
No, there aren’t any toilets at Durdle Door. There are no facilities or food kiosks on the beach.
Is there free parking at Durdle Door?
No. You will need to park in the pay and display car park at the top of the hill. Visitors are discouraged from parking in the village and reminded not to block access to driveways or other vehicles.
How long is the walk from car park to Durdle Door?
It takes approximately 20 minutes to walk from Durdle Door car park to Durdle Door. The route is quite steep and not suitable for visitors with mobility difficulties.
How many steps at Durdle Door?
There are approximately 90 steps down onto the beach at Durdle Door. They are quite steep.
What should I bring to Durdle Door?
There are no facilities or food outlets on the beach at Durdle Door, so you will need to bring a picnic with you if you plan on visiting for the day. Wear appropriate footwear for the walk down the steep coastal path and steps.
Is Durdle Door a sandy beach?
No, the beach at Durdle Door is a fine shingle.
How long is the walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove?
It takes approximately 30 minutes to walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove along the South West Coast Path. The route is scenic with beautiful views of the Dorset countryside. It can be quite steep in places.
Does Durdle Door get busy?
Yes, Durdle Door can get extremely busy, especially during the summer months. We highly recommend arriving early to secure a parking spot, if you plan on spending an entire day at the beach.
What time does Durdle Door open?
Durdle Door is open to the public year-round and accessible via the South West Coast Path. If you plan on accessing the beach via the Durdle Door pay and display car park you will need to be aware of the opening/closing times.
April to September – opens at 9am. Locked at 9pm/dusk
October to March – opens at 9am. Locked at 4pm
Is Durdle Door car park National Trust?
No, Durdle Door car park is not part of the National Trust. It is privately owned by the Weld Estate and located within Durdle Door Holiday Park. The car park is pay and display.
Can you see Durdle Door from the road?
No, it is not possible to see Durdle Door from the road, but you can just see it from the top of the grass bank next to the car park.
For a proper look, you will need to follow the steep coast path to the cliff top. From here you will have commanding views of Durdle Door below. For a closer look take the steps down to the beach.
The walk is not recommended for people with mobility difficulties.
Can you take dogs on Durdle Door beach?
Yes, Durdle Door is a dog friendly beach year-round. Dogs are allowed to run and play off lead.
Is Durdle Door safe for toddlers?
Access to Durdle Door is difficult and extremely tricky with a pram. To get to the beach you will need to follow the cliff top coast path before descending down a steep set of steps onto the beach. The beach itself is shingle and there are no toilet facilities or food kiosks. There is no lifeguard service and the water gets deep very quickly.
We do not think Durdle Door is well suited to families with toddlers. We recommend heading to nearby Swanage beach.
Is Durdle Door steep?
Yes, the walk down to Durdle Door is very steep and not suitable for people with mobility difficulties. From the car park there is a steep path with down to the cliff top. To get to the beach you will have to walk down a step of around 90 steps.