Jurassic Coast


Highlights:

  • Part of epic South West Coast Path

  • UK’s first natural World Heritage Site

  • Lulworth Cove with turquoise waters

  • Famous Chesil Beach

Brief:

⏱  Duration: 6-8 days        
🗺  Distance: 130 km
⛰  Grade: Moderate
🗓  Best Time: March - October
🛏  Accomm: Bed & Breakfast

 
 

Walk Overview

At an extraordinary length of 1,016 kilometres (630 miles), the South West Coast Path thoroughly deserves its “epic” epithet. However, for most of us, tackling this National Trail in one outing is not a feasible, or even appealing, proposition. As a result, the South West Coast Path is almost invariably experienced via a carefully selected portion and walkers will debate their differing views on the most delectable portion.

Of course, there’s no best section, there are just segments with features that appeal to some more than others! One segment that appeals to many is the 130 kilometre stretch between Lyme Regis and Poole in Dorset. This section of dramatic coastline is known as the Jurassic Coast and showcases landmark rock formations and fossil-filled cliffs. This segment of the South West Coast Path is, therefore, referred to as the Jurassic Coast walk.

There is a huge variety of coastal scenery along the route. The landscape features rolling chalk hills, high cliff tops, sandy beaches, turquoise bays and coastal lagoons. Along the way there is a good mix of lively seaside resort towns including Weymouth and Swanage, as well as pretty traditional villages such as Abbotsbury and Osmington Mills.

Without a doubt, the star attraction is the Jurassic Coast geology and its unique fossil strata. This led to the area’s designation as England’s first natural World Heritage Area in 2001. Many significant finds of prehistoric fossils, including dinosaur remains, have been discovered in this region. Visitors can head to the informative Lyme Regis Fossil Museum or go fossil hunting themselves at places such as Charmouth Beach and Kimmeridge Bay.

Other highlights of the Jurassic Coast walk include:

  • Some of England’s most famous coastal landmarks, such as the huge stone archway of Durdle Door, the Dancing Ledge, the Stair Hole Inlet and Old Harry Rocks.

  • The beautiful white pebble circular beach of Lulworth Cove.

  • The steep climb to the highest point on Dorset’s coast, the majestic Golden Cap, and the outstanding vistas from the top.

  • Chesil Beach with its pebble terrain which increases in size as it nears the Isle of Portland.

The Jurassic Coast walk covers 130 kilometres (81 miles) and generally takes about six or seven days of walking. Your total trip duration then depends on whether you incorporate rest days into the walk and, if so, how many.

A seven walking day itinerary is shown below. The itinerary shown below involves an average daily distance of 18.5 kilometres (11.5 miles). Shortened versions of the walk are available,

 
 

Itinerary

The walk takes 6-8 days to complete. A typical 7 day itinerary is shown below.

 
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Day 1

Lyme Regis to Bridport

Distance: 19 km

Time: 5 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 
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Day 2

Bridport to Abbotsbury

Distance: 19 km

Time: 5 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 
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Day 3

Abbotsbury to Weymouth

Distance: 23 km

Time: 6 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 
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Day 4

Weymouth to Lulworth Cove

Distance: 23 km

Time: 6 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 
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Day 5

Lulworth Cove to Kimmeridge

Distance: 12 km

Time: 3 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 
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Day 6

Kimmeridge to Swanage

Distance: 21 km

Time: 4 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 
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Day 7

Swanage to Poole

Distance: 12 km

Time: 3 hours

Accommodation: Bed & Breakfast

 

Walk Options

Guided

There are currently no tour operators who offer the Jurassic Coast section of the South West Coast Path as a guided trip. There are tour operators who offer other guided walks in the Jurassic Coast region. Generally, with these options, comfortable or luxury accommodation is offered at one central base and walkers are transferred to a section of the walk each day.

Typically, the package offered by these operators include:

  • Walking tour with professional guides

  • Accommodation

  • All meals

  • Transfers between the trail and the accommodation

Click here for assistance in relation to this option.

Assisted self-guided

Several tour operators offer the Jurassic Coast walk (or shortened versions) as a self-guided trip.

Typically, the service includes:

  • Track notes, maps and information pack

  • Accommodation, usually with ensuites (the range and quantity of accommodation available in some villages is limited; also, the basic package offered by some tour operators might not always extend to ensuites)

  • Luggage transport between accommodation (and sometimes, where necessary, vehicle transfers between track and accommodation)

  • Breakfasts and optional packed lunches

  • 24/7 support

The duration of the self-guided options varies depending upon how far you wish to walk each day. Accommodation options range from comfortable through to luxury, again depending upon the size of the village or town and the purchased package.

Click here for assistance in relation to this option.

Independent

There are camping areas along the route that make camping on most nights a possibility. It’s also quite feasible to book accommodation along the route yourself and, if you require luggage transfers, to arrange that independently.

For those considering this option, it’s worth noting that the self-guided tour operators often have preferred rates with accommodation providers and luggage transfer companies. They also often have reserved allocations at the best-located/most suitable accommodation for the particular walk, so sometimes when accommodation shows no availability to an independent inquiry there’s still availability through a self-guided operator.

Also, be aware that the Dorset coast is a popular destination for both local and overseas travellers, so during the holiday season it will usually be necessary to book accommodation well ahead of your visit.

Click here for assistance in relation to this option.

 

Essential Information

Access

The starting point for the Jurassic Coast walk is Lyme Regis, Dorset

The finishing point is Poole, Dorset.

Lyme Regis and Poole are both readily accessible by public transport:

  •  for Lyme Regis, there are regular trains between London’s Waterloo station to Axminster. From there, it’s a short bus or taxi ride to Lyme Regis.

  • from Poole, there are regular trains to London’s Waterloo station.

best time

The best time to do the walk is between March and October. 

Late Spring and early Autumn provide the most optimum walking conditions.

Difficulty

The walk is rated at a difficulty level of moderate. At 130 kilometres it’s quite long and there are some sections with regular steep ascents and descents, particularly between Lulworth and Swanage. The path is generally well marked and maintained.

AccomModation

There are many accommodation options at either end of the Jurassic Coast path (Lyme Regis and Poole) and, generally, plenty along the route. Accommodation options include camping, hostels, B&B’s, guesthouses, inns and hotels. There are some unique accommodation options in Lyme Regis that provide a highly memorable experience (and reward).

Many of the accommodation providers, particularly those near to the route, are attuned to walkers’ needs or offer amenities suited to walkers. 

We can assist walkers in choosing the accommodation options which best suit their needs. Click here to contact us.

Dining

We can assist you in choosing special dining options along the route.

Other activities

As a popular tourism destination, the Jurassic Coast region offers many attractions in addition to this section of the South West Coast Path.

Many walkers choose to add extra days to their trip so that they can explore these other attractions. Some will do that through rest days along the trail; others prefer ‘add-ons’ at the end of the walk. Some do both!

A few options are:

  • Lyme Regis at the start (or finish) of the walk is a popular seaside resort. It’s renowned for the extraordinary fossils discovered on its nearby beaches. Today, visitors can hunt for fossils, take a guided fossil tour and visit the excellent fossil museum. The thirteenth century Cobb promenade is another favourite aspect of this historic town.

  • Abbotsbury is a particularly attractive medieval village worthy of a rest day. Its famous 600 year old swannery is home to over 600 swans. There are also sub-tropical gardens, shops and cafes to visit.

  • Weymouth is another good option for a rest day. It’s a grand seaside resort featuring a huge harbour and a seaside promenade. It has many attractions and makes a good base from which to explore the unique Chesil pebble beach and the Isle of Portland. Also near to Weymouth is “The Fleet”, the UK’s largest inland saltwater lagoon and home to teeming bird and marine life.

We can assist walkers to explore the many attractions of the Jurassic Coast.

Assistance

We can assist walkers with various aspects of their walking holidays. Click here to contact us.