One of the biggest changes to our lives since becoming parents has been the change to our weekends. Gone are the lie-ins, the lazy brunches and afternoons spent sprawled on the sofa with a good book. These days we’re lucky if we get to stay in bed until seven thirty – imagine! But, with every cloud comes a silver lining and that, for us, is days out. With the weather finally starting to take a turn for the better, we packed the world’s worst picnic and headed east for the day… to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove to be precise!
Durdle Door is one of those British landmarks that’s instantly recognisable, even if you’re not entirely sure where it is. A natural arch carved out of the limestone cliff by the sea, it’s a breathtaking sight that’s been featured in a number of films and music videos over the years. Visiting it isn’t for the faint hearted; a last minute decision to take the baby carrier rather than the buggy saved the day as unfortunately for those less able, visiting Durdle Door is a steep step challenge!
We parked at the campsite carpark at the top of Durdle Door. It’s not cheap to park there but it’s right at the top of the path to both areas and there’s a delicious looking snack van on hand as well. Plus, it’s the perfect spot to look out over the coastline and eat your picnic in the car if, like us, you don’t fancy braving the outside world just yet.
We chose to go down to Durdle Door first then over to Lulworth Cove after. The path is a gentle decline to start with and a mixture of stone and dirt but it’s wide and surrounded by grass field areas on either side so there’s plenty of room for children to let off steam. Once you near the top of the main descent from the cliff onto the beach, there are plenty of warnings and barriers so it’s safe for dogs and children alike! The views from the top of the cliff are stunning; to the left is a beautiful cove with natural rock break protecting it. As you turn you get a stunning view of Durdle Door itself, Portland and the coastline. Whilst it was windy when we went, it didn’t dim the vista at all… you really can’t beat nature at times like those!
Once you’ve braved the steps down to the beach, the view is even better. It’s incredible to think that the sea created the door shape from years of water erosion. It took both Dave and I back to school trips to the area as we tried to remember all the facts from our Geography classes half a lifetime ago (good god, that’s terrifying!). The beach is protected by the cliffs so we were able to sit there for quite a while, enjoying the waves and letting the baby go wild with the pebbles. That’s the best thing about living near so many pebble beaches – no sand to drag home with us!
With our car parking in mind, we headed off to Lulworth Cove. It’s easy to walk over from the carpark so after a trek back up the hill we started the cliff top walk over. As you’re walking on the cliff top, it’s obviously exposed to the elements so, on a windy day like the one we went on, it was more than a little chilly at times. Thankfully the walk helps take your mind off of that! The path to Lulworth Cove is a long but gentle decline with small steps every 10-20 metres to help ease the work.
It took us about twenty minutes to make it over to Lulworth Cove where we promptly rewarded ourselves with an ice-cream. There’s a tourist centre, toilets, refreshments and picnic tables all in a centralised area as well as another large parking zone if you wish to do the walk in reverse. Having refreshed ourselves, we realised we were out of time to make the last 1/2 mile of walk down to the cove beach itself; a shame but we had quite the hike ahead of us to get back. With a last lick of the ice-creams and the sun starting to disappear, we put back on the baby and the backpack and headed for the car; exhausted, windswept but full of memories of a proper family day at the beach.
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