There is something particularly endearing about England when the sun comes out. With layers of sun cream, flip flops dragging their feet, the population descends on the nearest beach to bathe in hours of sunshine and temperatures reaching twenty-five degrees, a rarity in our generally temperate climate. This holiday weekend was no exception. These delightful observations came to mind on a spontaneous day trip to Durdle Door, a hint of Greek paradise on the Dorset coast. On an unusually early Sunday, we decided to make the most of the glorious morning and set course for somewhere we had always wanted to visit.
How to get to Durdle Door
An hour’s drive from the New Forest, Durdle Door towers over the edge of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site with stunning views on either side and charming villages surrounding it. Arriving shortly after nine o’clock, we started down the rocky road in search of the famous limestone arch. However, our idea of arriving early wasn’t exactly unique; there were two of us in a crowd of visitors descending the cliff. Beach gear on our backs, kids sliding on the rocks, everyone excited to get to the sea… the scene was the epitome of the British summer. Halfway down, we decided to break away from the crowd and perch on the side of the cliff to enjoy the view from above.
The M25 southbound must be exited at junction 12. Follow the M3 until it merges with the M27 just outside Southampton, and then with the A31 at Cadnam. This path will lead you into the New Forest, where you may stop for photographs and a picnic with wild ponies! Continue on the A31 past Ferndown, then through the Dorset countryside and little villages towards Bere Regis, passing Monkey World (a must-see stop! ), Wool, and Durdle Door. When you arrive, take a deep breath of fresh sea air and begin to relax.
London to Durdle Door by Train
Wool Train Station is the closest train station to Durdle Door. Trains run routinely from London Waterloo to Wool and take 2 hours 30 minutes. Trains in the UK may be highly costly, and since this is a popular route, I recommend booking your rail ticket to Durdle Door at least a few weeks in advance if possible. You can purchase a train ticket from London to Durdle Door for roughly £35.00 return or £13.90 one way if you do this, which is a great deal!
We somehow made it back to the car, delighted with our early morning escape. There is something special about getting up early on the weekend and driving somewhere spontaneously with no particular plan in mind. One of the reasons for starting this blog was to make moments like this happen more often but this was completely impromptu; maybe all that it takes is a change in mindset. Air-con on full, we waved goodbye to Durdle Door and drove away happily, feeling proud of ourselves for making it there early before the crowds turned to a few hundred. Next up was Lulworth Cove just further along the coast.
Sunset Scenery at Durdle Door Beach Dorset
You can view the sunset from the top of White Nothe all year, but it’s also a great site to picture the dawn. It means that you may enjoy stunning views of Durdle Door in one way and the Isle of Portland in the other. The blue of the sea before us was exactly the color of the water visible from the plane when it landed in Croatia a few summers ago, and the beaches in the coves on either side of the arch brought to mind visions of a nondescript Greek island. It was hard to believe that this kind of place existed in England.
Sometimes it is easy to underestimate the country we live in and only in the last year or so did I come to appreciate England for what it is. Moments like this make me realize how much beauty is on our doorstep. After a short break, we continued to follow the happy crowd up some steep steps to the pretty pebble beaches below, and turned off to the right of the archway. I struggled a bit on the rickety steps with my sliders; Trainers would probably have been a much more sensible footwear choice, but that’s the beauty of being unprepared and figuring things out for yourself.
Here, on the right, was the more popular side with beachgoers setting up camp on the pebbles, buckets and spades out, some slowly edging towards the water, and a joyful dog or two wagging their tail. Further out in the sea, swimmers were exploring the arch, some attempting to cliff jump from less-than-impressive heights, and a wooden boat adding a quaint holiday feel to the scene. We stretched out on the rocks and watched the world go by. With only a bottle of water between us, we came slightly unprepared in comparison to our neighbours but we planned on picking up lunch somewhere later anyway. Having the beach next door to explore and another location a short drive away, we were eager to continue our adventure.
On the other side of the arch, we found perfect lighting, with the cloudless sky almost blending in with the serene water before us. It would have been lovely to stay but with midday soon approaching, the heat was quickly becoming too much; here, there was no shade to hide from the now scorching sun. We snapped a few photos, took a quick water break and mentally prepared ourselves for the climb back up the steep steps and rocky cliff – unarguably, the least desirable aspect of a visit to the beach.
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Best time to visit Durdle Door
In terms of weather, the summer months are the best time to visit Durdle Door. Between July and September, the average temperature is 17 degrees Celsius, although it may reach 26 degrees Celsius. Temperatures might be considerably higher if there is a heatwave in the south of England! You may even swim right next to the arch. Winters are very cold, with average temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius in December and January. If you’re considering a winter vacation, bundle up warm since there’s typically a cold breeze blowing off the water.
The parking park at the Durdle Door Holiday Park is not available all year but is open from March 1 to October 31.
Visiting Durdle Door between these times allows you to take advantage of the nicer weather by going for swims or long walks in the sun.
How long does it take to walk down to Durdle Door?
It takes around 30 minutes and needs roughly 100m of climbing (1 hour return). However, give yourself additional time to digest those ideas. 2 – Take caution while walking down the stairs from the cliffs above Durdle Door to the beaches, since they are rather steep. Spend some time at Durdle Door and the beaches before returning the way you came. It’s a 1-mile (1.75-kilometer) linear trek each way.
You may continue your walk, and if the weather is nice, I suggest spending extra time near Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.
From Durdle Door, go west along the South West Coast Path to Bat’s Head or White Nothe. Durdle Door is around 1 mile away from Bat’s Head, while White Nothe is about 4 km away. Obviously, you’d have to go back, making the total trip twice as long.
Is there parking at Durdle Door beach?
Parking is accessible right above Durdle Door through the Durdle Door Holiday Park. Visit the Lulworth Estate website for the most up-to-date parking information and charges. The beach is a 15-minute walk up a steep hill, followed by a few steps from the parking lot.
However, if you pay with a credit card, you must’sign out’ when you depart. In essence, you input your registration badge and touch the contactless machine, but you are not charged until you leave. It only knows you’ve gone because you registered at the computer and logged out. If you do not do this, you will be charged for the whole day – there is signs, but it is not very apparent!
If you just wish to walk in one way, the X54 bus will take you back to Lulworth Cove. The bus will transport you back to the Lulworth Cove parking lot from the Durdle Door park entrance on West Road at the end of the road leading to the Durdle Door parking lot.
Have you been to Durdle Door before? How did you spend the bank holiday weekend?