2nd June 2017
A UNESCO World Heritage Site. 185 million years of history. 95 miles of stunning coastline. Castles, coves, caves, lagoons, and cider. Delicious cider. So I just don’t get it? Why had we not been here before?
The Jurassic Coast is now ‘up there’ with The Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon as one of the recognised natural wonders of the world. Officially awarded its title in 2001, it is England’s first and only World Heritage Site. Quite an accolade and, as we soon discovered, well deserved.
With more dramatic natural features than you can shake a stick at and fossils at every turn, this really is a geologist’s paradise. When standing at Durdle Door, hubby tried to explain to us how and why this beautiful rock arch had been formed. Admittedly his memory from GCSE geology was a little rusty, but he did his best. Daughter & I now know it had something to do with soft rocks and hard rocks. But whatever the terminology, it is breath-taking.
During our 4-night trip to the Dorset coast in our Bailey Autograph 79-4T we were spoilt for choice for places to stay. Overlooking the coast, deep in the countryside, by a river, or even next to steam railway line, there are a plethora of superb campsites to visit.
Even better, this stretch of the Dorset coast welcomes motorhomes at every turn. Allocated parking bays at all main attractions, wide areas to park up and drink in the views. Even designated motorhome spaces in local supermarkets. Heaven.
The first few days were hoodie and anorak kind of weather. Those spring days where once you get walking you are constantly removing/adding layers and pointing to postage stamp size areas of blue sky, saying “I think it’ll brighten up soon”. But it didn’t matter.
Hours were lost walking on Lyme Regis beach, discovering incredible finds exposed by the recent landslips. An old mangle and some farm machinery were not quite the fossils we were expecting, but fascinating none the less. Health and safety alert – always be aware of tide times and keep well back from the cliffs. Landslides are common.
Our first campsite had far-reaching views over Chesil Beach. This 18 mile bank of pebbles is separated from the mainland by Fleet Lagoon, a unique habitat for a range of wildlife. Despite being the first week of the school holidays, we didn’t see another soul whilst walking alongside the crashing waves at Chesil. Tough going on the calf muscles, but a fabulous and invigorating walk.
By the third day our wonderfully changeable English weather had turned, but for the better. Clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s transformed this dramatic and atmospheric coastline into a scene straight out of a travel brochure. Azure blue sea and golden rays bouncing off dramatic rock formations really cranked the beauty up a notch.
Kimmeridge Bay was my favourite place. Initially the £10 parking fee nearly put us off. But the day we had there was worth every penny. This unspoilt crescent bay is a fabulous spot for fossil hunting, beachcombing, rock pooling or just a lazy picnic, and we managed all four. The water is rich in marine life and forms part of the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve. The smooth rock slopes gently down and makes it possible to wade out quite a way, and we did as my rolled-up jeans got soaked. But when you’re travelling in your home on wheels, there’s always a change of clothes to hand.
Our final day was spent walking at the famous Lulworth Cove and surrounding area. The trek back from Durdle Door is pretty steep but worth it for the spectacular views. Admittedly it was pretty crowded, fully expected on a hot day at a beauty spot in the school holidays. Once we were down at Man of War Bay it was a haven of peace and tranquillity. We even had a little doze on the warm pebbles.
Our last night in the van was spent preparing a local crab in the evening sunshine while enjoying a cold Purbeck cider. In four days we’d only scratched the surface of this breath-taking area. So many walks we didn’t do. So many experiences we didn’t try. Kayaking, coasteering (jumping off cliffs!) and abseiling. And most of all, so many ciders we didn’t get to taste.
We’ll be back.