Jurassic Coast

  • Jurassic Coast: Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Crumbling cliff, Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: © Paul Hadaway
  • Jurassic Coast: Pulpit Rock, Portland - © from Flickr user Treehouse1977
  • Jurassic Coast: Ammonite - © from Flickr user Andrew_Michaels
  • Jurassic Coast: Beach, Hen Cliff, Purbeck - © from Flickr user Treehouse1977
  • Jurassic Coast: England as Italy - © from Flickr user Lostajy
  • Jurassic Coast: Fine seas at Portland - © from Flickr user youngie42
  • Jurassic Coast: Fossil hunting, Charmouth - © from Flickr user Kevinzim
  • Jurassic Coast: Lyme Regis sea wall - © from Flickr user Whipper_Snapper
  • Jurassic Coast: Near Durdle Door - © from Flickr user Photography_Gal
  • Jurassic Coast: Near Lyme Regis - © from Flickr user Jlcwalker
  • Jurassic Coast: Old Harry - © from Flickr user Treehouse1977
  • Jurassic Coast: Portland Bill - © from Flickr user Treehouse1977
  • Jurassic Coast: Pulpit Rock, Portland - © from Flickr user Treehouse1977
  • Jurassic Coast: The Cobb, Lyme Regis - © from Flickr user Jim_Linwood
  • Jurassic Coast: The Undercliff Landslide, Lyme Regis - © from Flickr user Feather
  • Jurassic Coast: Through Dorset - © from Flickr user Hardo

Key information: Jurassic Coast

  •  This National Trail and World Heritage Site is part of the 660-mile South West Coast Path.
  •  The route, from Exmouth to Poole Harbour, passes through some of the UKs most beautiful coastal scenery and of the worlds most important geological landscapes.
  •  Huge choice of walks, from easy tastes of the south-wests delicious coastline to strenuous 24+ km hikes through dramatic rifts, cliffs and rock strata.
  •  The backyard of evolution: fossils found here led to the birth of palaeontology, the classification of the first dinosaurs and inspiration for, among others, Darwin.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating86
  • Beauty31
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest8
  • Charisma30
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating86
  • Note: Negs: pretty popular in high season

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 152km in total
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway

WALK SUMMARY

The counties of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall are perennially popular British holiday spots: the combination of relatively good summer weather, a relatively low population and dramatic coastlines scattered with good beaches have made this area popular with leisure travelers since the Georgian spa vogue.

The Jurassic coast, which runs from the red-rock cliffs of Exmouth to the lovely limestone of the Isle of Purbeck in the east, has a particularly powerful charisma: its rugged landscape could be said to be the birthplace of palaeontology. Though the first classified dinosaur bones were discovered on the edge of the Cotswolds, the sheer wealth of fossils pouring out of the crumbling rocks of these cliffs continue to provide exciting discoveries today. This is a great place for dino-mad children, though getting them to quit the fossil-strewn beaches and actually take a walk might be a problem.

The Jurassic coast is, ultimately, a living geology lesson; a history of the earth over hundreds of millions of years. Indeed, the Devonian Period is named after the county, where outcrops of its typical iron-rich red sandstone deposits, riddled with the fossils of the earliest land-walking fish, are common especially in the area between Exmouth and Sidmouth, which, at the time, straddled the equator as part of the continent of Euramerica.

The Undercliff nature reserve, outside lovely Georgian Lyme Regis, is a picture-perfect landslide of sandstone over clay a celebrated event in 1839 which brought flocks of visitors, including Queen Victoria. Because of the instability of the land, Lymes beaches have surrendered remains of ichthyosaurs, dimorphodons, plesiosaurs and many, many more.

28km-long Chesil beachs collection of perfect round pebbles, which increase in size as you work your way eastwards, remains a geological mystery, while the Isle of Portland, rearing majestically from the sea, hosts petrified forests 135 million years old and ancient quarries. Further east, beyond the dramatic rock arch of Durdle Door, Lulworth bay is a fine example of rock vulnerabilities: when a stream broke through the coastal limestone barrier, the sea eroded a perfect horseshoe of softer clay all the way to the impermeable chalk cliffs behind. The Isle of Purbeck, a National Trust site covered in castles and home to a wondrous collection of wildlife, rises up over the inner marshland surrounding Poole harbor, passing the petrified footprints of gigantic dinosaurs and affording majestic vistas of chalk stacks such as the celebrated Old Harry, only a few thousand years ago a sturdy part of the mainland.

The breathtaking history of the earth represented by these features, however, cannot begin to communicate their effect on eye and heart. The whole stretch of the Jurassic coast is an admirable mix of rural and elegant, of mild and dramatic, overlaid with a powerful sense of Britains age-old relationship with the cradle of life itself, the ocean.

See Routes below for details of recommended walking: Seaton / Lyme Regis Undercliff / Golden Cap; Portland; and the Studland Peninsula.

OUR FRIENDS' EXPERIENCES

SW Coast Path Weymouth to Studland 2019 - Paul Hadaway

Day 1 - Weymouth to Lulworth

2 months ago I was sitting in a small ripped tent awake at 2am with an upset stomach in the Simien Mts in Ethiopia thinking I was over camping – too rough and too tiring.

In the B&B in Weymouth in a room of Alice in Wonderland proportions and a paper-thin wall allowing the couple arguing 3 rooms away to interrupt sleep, I was nostalgic for my African tent.

We added 2.5km to the first day’s planned 18km looking for an acceptable coffee in Weymouth.  I don’t have anything particular against Weymouth, the surviving Georgian architecture is fabulous (pic 1) and over 30 years ago I married Lisa here.  We’re still married and walking to Studland together. 

It’s our first trip to Weymouth since our wedding day, the sun is coming out and when we found it, the coffee was highly acceptable. The attraction of Studland of course is that the Pig-on-the-Beach is there.  A 4-day trot to the Pig.

One of the many great things about SW Coast path is that nothing gets in its way; through town and country it carries on – 630 miles of stunningly beautiful coastline.  And as a result, walking out of a town the people change noticeably, reducing in number and altering in character and dress.  From Weymouth to the outer reaches of Preston walking along the sea wall with the cliffs of Redcliffe Point, Osmington Mills, Ringstead Bay and White Nothe stretching out before us, the number of people thin, they still all wear track suits but the bodies thin too.  Walking carrying a bag of doughnuts can’t be exercise can it?

Leaving Preston behind we’re in.....

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Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

Jurassic Coast: England as Italy - © from Flickr user Lostajy

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Jurassic Coast: Pulpit Rock, Portland - © from Flickr user Treehouse1977

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Jurassic Coast: Jurassic Coast - © Paul Hadaway...
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