- At a glance
- Locality & Walks
- Accommodation & Meals
- Travel options
Your Holiday at a Glance
|Independent Walking Holiday||
|Dates for 2020||
|Accommodation and Meals||
|What's not included||
Dorset Coastal path
This 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 has been designated a natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO with its cliffs capturing 185 million years of the Earth's history.
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 the cliffs and beaches and its historic harbour. Your route then takes you over Golden Cap, which at 190m is the highest cliff in southern England and provides amazing panoramic views. After passing Abbotsbury, a beautiful village with the largest thatched building in the world, your route takes you onto the Dorset ridgeway with great views and numerous prehistoric earthworks. You'll have the opportunity to visit a number of historic villages crammed with old stone thatched cottages with welcoming inns if you fancy a real ale and tea shops if you'd prefer scones and cream tea.
As you progress eastwards, 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's rock arch, and the perfect circular bay of Lulworth Cove. Stunning cliffs accompany you through the army ranges (see note on introduction page about when it's open) in the most strenuous section of the walk. You can extend your walk from Swanage by following the Purbeck hills to the remarkable village of Corfe Castle and its castle ruins. Find out more about the stunning Dorset Jurassic coastline and the Dorset weather.
The walking days on this independent holiday average about 16km in distance. The walking varies with some easy sections, whilst others sections of the Dorset coastal path have some sizeable and reasonably steep ascents and descents. A couple of the days have a series of ups and downs making them quite difficult days for the grade with a maximum daily ascent of 650m. For the most part your walking trail follows a national footpath and it is therefore well signposted.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome, and night at Lyme Regis. Explore this historic picturesque port and stroll along the Cobb - its famous harbour walls.
Day 2: Lyme Regis - West Bay
Your first day's walking brings you quickly to Charmouth at a gap in the coastal hills, which is a great place to look for fossils. There is a Heritage Visitors Centre. Your trail continues up and down a number of hills including the ascent of Golden Cap, the highest cliff on the coast of southern England giving wonderful views both along the coast and inland. Much of this area is owned by the National Trust and farmed using traditional methods meaning that it has plenty of wild flowers and butterflies in early summer. West Bay is a small harbour village with lovely sea cliff views. 17km, +530m
Day 3: West Bay - Abbotsbury
An easier day in store. After some relatively small hills following the cliff tops, the trail levels out as you approach the amazing Chesil Beach - a huge ridge of shingle 13km long, creating a lagoon on its landward side. On the way there is the opportunity to visit the picturesque historic Dorset village of Burton Bradstock with many 17th century thatched cottages. This stretch is good for bird spotting and there is a nature conservation reserve. Your walking trail turns inland at the start of the beach and shortly afterwards reaches the pretty village of Abbotsbury with lots of stone and thatched cottages as well as a number of other buildings and sites of interest. 14km, +210m
Day 4: Abbotsbury - Ridgeway
Your walking trail takes you inland along The Ridgeway - a chalk ridge which runs for 20km east-west, famous for its quantity of barrows (burial earth mounds) built here during the Bronze Age - one of the highest concentrations in the UK. The ridge provides fine walking and great panoramic views, one of the best being from Hardy's Monument at 240m above sea level. Just before the monument is the Valley of the Stones with impressive Celtic field systems still visible and naturally occurring large stones. On route it is possible to make a detour to Maiden Castle - a hugely impressive Neolithic and Iron Age hill fort which dominates the local landscape. 21km, +310m
Day 5: Ridgeway - Lulworth
You walking trail returns to the coast and traverses the top of some beautiful chalk cliffs such as the great chalk headland of White Nothe which provides glorious views. The rolling landscape is beautiful and the green pastures and wild flowers contrast starkly with the white cliffs. On your way to Lulworth you'll pass Durdle Door, a great natural arch of limestone through which the sea passes. The day finshes with a beautiful walk over Hambury Tout to Lulworth. Lulworth cove is without doubt one of the most perfect coves in the UK bounded by cliffs and hills forming a secluded spot to rest weary legs. Historic buildings abound in the small village. 10km, +420m
The short break option finishes at Lulworth and your holiday ends after breakfast on day 6
Day 6: Lulworth - Worth Matravers
Your great day's walk starts by going over the cliffs surrounding Lulworth Cove before passing the Fossil Forest to reach Smugglers Cove. This part of your walking trail follows some dramatic cliff top walking around a series of picturesque bays and headlands which change form with the changing geology, such as the beautiful Worbarrow Bay. It's worth making the detour to Tyneham, a deserted village in a lovely setting in a clay valley between chalk and limestone hills. Evacuated in 1943, no-one has lived there since. Other highlights of the walking trail include Kimmeridge Bay and Chapman's Pool. Night at either of the lovely inland villages of Kingston or Worth Matravers 19km, +650m
Day 7: Worth Matravers - Swanage
Today's walking is undulating but less strenuous than on day 6. Your route undulates along limestone downs along beautiful cliff tops. Your day starts by going around the large headland of St Albans Head offering great views. The route is punctuated by old quarry workings exploited when stone was directly loaded onto boats out at sea. After passing Durleston Head you'll reach the seaside resort of Swanage. 18km, +180m
Day 8: Departure
Departure after breakfast
Extra day option - alternative Day 8: Swanage - Corfe Castle
The optional extra day's walking climbs onto the chalk ridge of the Purbeck Hills. From here you have great views over the amazing Poole Harbour. From here it's possible to extend your walk to Old Harry Rocks, a chalk headland with detached stacks or rock towers. Afterwards the trail goes through the pretty village of Studland before returning to the ridge which you follow to the beautiful village of Corfe Castle located in a gap in the Dorset hills. The superb old castle ruins dominate the village. 16-19km, up to 440m
Day 9 Departure after breakfast
Accommodation & Meals
This independent walking holiday in Dorset has a range of good quality guest houses, bed and breakfasts and inns. In some locations the choice of accommodation is limited so please book early to ensure that we can secure our first choice accommodation.. Where possible, we choose guest houses with a distinctive local character, where charming surroundings are married with a warm welcome. All accommodation is on a B&B basis. Evening meals are taken in local cafes, tea rooms, restaurants and pubs, whilst lunches can be bought at local shops or from your guest house. A couple of examples are listed below.
|Abbey House||B&B||Located next to the abbey ruins in the wonderful historic village of Abbotsbury, Abbey House is a welcoming B&B in a lovely setting.|
|Mariners Hotel||Hotel||The Mariners is a lovely 17th century building in the heart of Lyme Regis. Formerly a coaching house, it is a stylish mix of old and new.||4 stars AA|
To get to Lyme Regis
By Train & Bus
Axminster is served by a main line train station. Routes from London are via Waterloo station and take about 2hr 40min. From Axminster take bus line X51 or X53 to Lyme Regis
There are 3 local airports with international flights: Bournemouth and Southampton are about 30 minutes drive away, whilst Bristol is about an hour away. The 3 London airports are between and 2 hrs 30 and 3 hrs drive away. The main car hire firms are located at the airports.
To return from Lulworth
Take the X54 bus from Lulworth to Wool where you can catch a train train direct to London Waterloo. If you are returning to Lyme Regis to collect your car, catch the X53 Jurassic Coast bus at Wool.
To return from Swanage or Corfe Castle
Take bus no. 40 to Wareham where you can catch a train direct to London Waterloo. If you are returning to Lyme Regis to collect your car, catch the X53 Jurassic Coast bus at Wareham.