Dorset Coast, England

INDEPENDENT WALKING HOLIDAY

 

Dorset Jurassic Coastal Path & Ridgeway

moderate walking grade grazalema park spain

5, 7 or 8 nights - from £520 - 4, 6 or 7 days walking between guest houses

This self guided walking holiday follows a stunning section of the South West Coastal Trail between Lyme Regis and Swanage in Dorset, with a possible extension to Corfe Castle. This spectacular coast is one of the most interesting and varied in the UK, if not Europe, and has been designated a natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO

white cliffs dorset coast independent walking holiday England

Dorset's Jurassic Coast

Our independent walking holiday follows a stunning section of the South West Coastal Trail between Lyme Regis and Swanage in Dorset, with a possible extension to Corfe Castle. This spectacular coast is one of the most interesting and varied in the UK and forms part of the designated natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO with its cliffs capturing 185 million years of the Earth's history. The East Dorset coastline has a series of rocks from the Jurassic and cretaceous periods with clays and shales, sandstones, limestones and pristine white chalks - the youngest of the rocks, all forming a remarkable and unique series of features and landmarks.

Your self-guided walking trail starts at the picturesque old port of Lyme Regis, nicknamed "The Pearl of Dorset" and noted for the fossils found in its nearby cliffs and beaches. Many of the earliest discoveries of dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles were made in the area surrounding Lyme Regis, including Ichthyosaur and Plesiosaur fossiles. Lyme Regis in Dorset is also well-known for "The Cobb", a harbour wall full of character and history. It protected Lyme Bay and enabled the town to become one of the UK's most important ports in medieval times. It is also an important feature in Jane Austen's novel Persuasion and in the film The French Lieutenant's Woman. 

Your walking holiday trail then takes you over Golden Cap, (whose name comes from the Golden sandstone rocks on its summit) which at 190m is the highest cliff in southern England and provides amazing panoramic views. On a clear day from the top of Golden Cap it is possible to see Dartmoor! It is also an area protected from chemical use and has a large number of wild flowers and butterflies.

Your coastal walking trail then turns inland at the start of Chesil Beach. Chesil Bank is one of the finest examples of a barrier beach in Europe - a huge ridge of shingle stretching for 13km with a fresh and salt water lagoon on its landward side. The best views of the beach come as you head inland towards the Dorset Ridgeway. After walking through Abbotsbury, a beautiful Dorset village with the largest thatched building in the world, your route takes you onto the Dorset ridgeway with great views. This ridgeway has one of the highest concentrations of pre-historic mounds and earthworks in England.

This independent walking holiday also passes through a number of typical English historic villages crammed with old stone thatched cottages. They have welcoming inns if you fancy a real ale and delightful tea shops if you'd prefer scones and cream tea.

As your walking trail takes you eastwards and back to the coast, so the variety and beauty of the landscape seems to increase with every new corner. Highlights include the classic picture postcard sites of Durdle Door with its natural limestone rock arch, and the perfect circular bay of Lulworth Cove. This cove is one of the world's finest examples of such a landform and was formed by the different rock types found in the area and their resistance to erosion at the mouth of a stream. Also along this section of your coastal walking trails are some beautiful undulating chalk cliffs such as those at White Nothe which provide for some stunning views and testing walking. The short break walking holiday ends at Lulworth.

Further east along the Dorset coast, stunning cliffs accompany your walk through the Lulworth army ranges (see note on the walking holiday page about when its open or follow the link) in the most strenuous section of the walk. It's worth making the detour to the abandoned village of Tyenham. The village and surrounding Dorset hills were commandeered in 1943 by the Ministry of Defence for use as firing ranges for training troops. 252 people were displaced. This measure was supposed to be temporary for the duration of the war, but in 1948 the army bought the land and it has remained in use for military training ever since. The church and school house remains along with some ruined buildings.

A series of picturesque bays, dramatic cliffs and headlands follow one after the other until you reach the Dorset seaside resort of Swanage. It is possible to extend your independent walking holiday from Swanage by following the Purbeck hills to the remarkable village of Corfe Castle and its castle ruins. During this day's walking you'll see the youngest rocks on the Dorset world Heritage Site. Brilliant white chalk has been eroded into steep cliffs and the famous collection of sea stacks known as ‘Old Harry Rocks' are an impressive site. Corfe Castle sits on a knoll in a gap in the Purbeck Hills and commands a great position overlooking the village and the beautiful Dorset hills and coast.

The Dorset coast of south England has a relatively favourable climate compared to many areas of Britain. Find out more about the weather of Dorset.

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See other walking holiday destinations in England

Take a look at all of our Coastal Trail walking holidays, guided walking holidays and independent walking holidays in France and the UK

 

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