7 Things to Do in West Lulworth, Dorset
I first heard of the little village of West Lulworth in Dorset, UK when I saw a photo of Durdle Door on a computer screensaver. I stashed Durdle Door away in my mental file of places I wanted to visit one day. But on our first trip to England, I was looking for a little one or two day excursion from London, and West Lulworth seemed perfect! We loved our time in London, but after three days packed full of sightseeing and walking through busy streets, we craved a quiet village where we could enjoy nature. And Lulworth was such a treat! The Lulworth website boasts the village is “one of the most beautiful places on earth,” and I’d have to agree! We seriously savored every moment we spent in the seaside village and were planning a trip back before we had even left. Read on to learn why it’s such a hidden gem in English seaside villages and what to do in West Lulworth!
Getting to West Lulworth
We arrived by train from London, which I thought was a great way to travel to the coast. While West Lulworth doesn’t have a train station of its own, the nearby village of Poole does and is a quick taxi ride away. We found that a taxi cab is usually around every time the train arrives, so you don’t have to worry about pre-arranging a ride. The journey by train from London (Waterloo Station) took 2 hours and passed through pretty countryside along the way. I had read that the best time to buy cheap train tickets was three months in advance, and it absolutely was! One way tickets went from £60 or £40 each to £11 (approximately $15) at exactly three months before our travel dates (May 2019). The train wasn’t very full, so we didn’t have to worry about tickets selling out. The Poole station connects with many other departure points, including the larger nearby towns of Weymouth and Bournmouth.
If you’re up for renting a car or have your own, you can easily drive to West Lulworth from your starting point. The country lanes can be a bit narrow, but that’s part of the charm of the area!
Visit Durdle Door Natural Arch
West Lulworth is probably most famous for Durdle Door, a beautiful rock arch that stretches out into the English Channel. I bet you’ve seen a picture of the Door, even if you didn’t know where it was! This landmark is located just outside of the village along the cliff-rimmed coastline. To get there, walk 1 mile along the coastal path from lower West Lulworth or take Main Road to the west and park above the beach and walk down. View Durdle Door from the cliffs or walk down the steep path to the beach and see it up close. Either way, it’s beautiful! With the beach facing south, you get gorgeous views at sunrise and sunset. And while you’re there, check out Man O’War Beach on the other side of the rock formation. I just love the curve of the beach and the crystal blue water!
Enjoy an Ice Cream Cone
For such a small village, West Lulworth definitely has a lot of ice cream shops. And I’m not complaining! As you walk through the lower section of the village, you’ll have your choice of ice cream from various shops. We were delighted by the wide range of flavor options, many of which we’d never seen in the U.S. It was a tough choice, but we ended up with scoops of honeycomb and white chocolate with chocolate covered honeycomb. Definitely don’t miss out on a sweet treat!
Walk the Coastal and Countryside Paths
After walking 10+ miles a day on London pavement, we weren’t looking forward to more walking in Lulworth, but it was absolutely wonderful. The area is quite hilly, so get ready for a nice leg workout! A coastal path runs along the chalk cliffs above the sea, and you can walk as little or much of it as you’d like. The Southwest Coastal Path starts at the car park in Lulworth and connects with Man O’War Beach (about a mile), Durdle Door, and many miles of western cliffs beyond. Be sure to enjoy the view looking down on lower West Lulworth and Lulworth Cove and keep an eye out to the west for a peek at Weymouth in the distance. Or head east towards Worbarrow Bay and more beautiful coast and countryside. It’s a lot of up and down on the green hills, but the views are amazing and totally worth it!
The quaint paths of Lulworth aren’t just at the coast – walking through the village and surrounding countryside is just as lovely. Take some time to walk though both the upper and lower sections of the village and enjoy the pastures, woods, and rolling hills around you. One of our favorite discoveries while walking through the lower village was the picturesque stream that flowed through the village and into the cove. Nestled next to the world’s cutest cottage, a shaded pond channels water under the street and onward to a beautiful wetlands area lush with greenery. From there the water spills into a channel paralleling the road and rushes over beach stones to mix with the Lulworth Cove’s salty water. It was breathtaking!
On our visit, my husband and I stayed at the most amazing little Airbnb all the way at the north end of the upper village. We did a lot of walking between our place and the coastal paths, and we loved the peaceful atmosphere of the route. We stopped to admire the quaint cottages along Main Road (B3070) through the village, made friends with cows in the pastures, and enjoyed the shaded path though wildflowers and greenery.
Look for Fossils at Lulworth Cove
Although some of the more famous fossil collecting spots along England’s Jurassic coast are farther west, Lulworth Cove has a lot to offer as well. With the lower section of West Lulworth spilling down towards the cove, it’s an easy-to-find and easily reachable destination. Spend a morning or afternoon walking along the large clam-shaped cove with an eye out for fossils along the shore or in the cliff sides. Many marine fossils have been found among the sea-smoothed rocks or even still entombed in the chalky cliffs surrounding the cove. If you’re lucky enough to find something interesting, be aware that anything loose on the beach is available to take home, but fossils still in the earth should remain there. But feel free to take a photo of your find! If you venture to other beaches, check the local rules for fossil collecting. The UK Fossils website is a great resource! And to learn more about what you’ve found (or could find), head over to the West Lulworth Visitor Centre for some great information about local geology. We found some shellfish fossils in the cliff, but left them for the elements to fully uncover and for others to enjoy. Honestly though, it was fun just to look, even if we didn’t find any spectacular fossils!
Explore the Abandoned Village of Tyneham
If you love history or have wondered what rural English life was like in the 1940s, definitely check out the “ghost village” of Tyneham! The uninhabited village, frozen in time, is now a historical site open to the public. So what’s the story? In 1943, residents of Tyneham were given less than a month to move from the village so that the Army could use the area for training during WWII. Although the villagers had been promised a return to their homes once the war ended, the military continued to use the land and the village fell into disrepair.
However, many buildings have been restored and furnished to be as they were when residents departed and are now open to view. The church, school, and home ruins include informative plaques and decorations that tell the story of the daily life of Tyneham residents in the 1940s. Also nearby is the quiet beach of Worbarrow Bay which is only accessible from the village. If you’d like to visit Tyneham, remember that it is still on military grounds and is only accessible at certain times and through specific paths. It’s a quick 15 minute drive from West Lulworth to Tyneham, or if you have a few hours free you can walk the coastal path between the villages.
Relax + Enjoy West Lulworth
This adorable village and the surrounding coast and countryside is the perfect place to de-stress and really take in the beauty of the area. Take a stroll along the coast paths after dark and see the sparkle of the moon reflecting in the waves below (one of my favorite memories). Savor a delicious cream tea (tea and scones with clotted cream) in the village while you people watch. Enjoy a picnic on the beach. Meander through the village streets and stop to photograph idyllic thatched-roof cottages. Watch the local livestock munch on their morning fiber. The possibilities for a relaxing day are endless, but make sure you take the time to do it! After the hubbub of London, we really loved a couple of quiet days with no agenda in Lulworth. One of my favorite memories was waking up in the comfiest and coziest bed (I can’t recommend Roy’s Shepherd Hut enough!!) and listening to the birds chirping and sheep bleating in the fields. I never wanted to leave!
Be Adventurous with Snorkeling or Coasteering at Lulworth
I so wish we would have time for this on our visit to Lulworth and Durdle Door because it looks so fun! If you like a little adventure in your vacations (or ”holidays,” as the British say), rent a wetsuit and snorkel gear or take a guided coasteering tour.
The beautifully clear water, lush kelp? Forests, and interesting sea life make the waters of Lulworth and the coves around Durdle Door a great place to snorkel. Just be sure to rent or bring your own wetsuit unless you like to swim in chilly waters of 62 ℉ (17 ℃) and colder.
If you’re looking for a little more adventure, try coasteering – climbing rocks and then cliff jumping into the ocean. If we had one extra day in Lulworth, I definitely would have signed up for a coasteering tour like this one from Lulworth Outdoors. For a new perspective on the Jurassic Coast cliffs and vibrant teal water of the area, rent kayaks or take a tour with one of the local outdoor activities companies. I grew up kayaking in my coastal hometown, so I love to rent kayaks when we travel. It’s such a peaceful way to see nature and explore places you can’t walk or drive to.