Opening the (Durdle) Door into Dorset: Solo trip review
Why is it that the places closest to us are always at the bottom of our bucket list? At the age of 32, I had yet to visit the turfed-topped cliffs of the Jurassic Coast. As a family, we visited Weymouth when I was a kid, but I don’t really remember it. What had been imprinted in my mind however, were the stunning images of Durdle Door I’d seen splattered across Instagram, with its iconic arch and peaceful shell beach. So, as lockdown reopened, a solo trip to the south coast was booked in.
A Quick Dip in the Blue Pool
I travelled from Northampton down to Chickerell – the only downside to driving solo is you can’t enjoy the views along the way! On my way, I’d chosen to make a slight detour to the Blue Pool in Wareham, a hidden gem for a leisurely stroll around its perfectly petite, turquoise lagoon. For only £5, it was a unique stop to stretch my legs and grab some food.
Visiting Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove
Setting off early to get an empty view of the bay, I parked up in the Durdle Door car park around 9am and set off for my gentle wander down to the beach. Reaching the top of a steep, rubble path, I quickly learnt arriving at my destination would be anything but ‘gentle’. Thankfully, my sturdy walking boots gripped my descent, steadying my 5-minute walk down. As the floor began to flatten, I was drawn instantly to the cliff edge, hypnotised by the aqua blue water lapping the shore. Enjoying the morning May breeze, I sat and soaked up the scene, listening to panicked dog owners calling back the dogs who were adventuring a bit too close to the edge!
To reach Durdle Door’s shore, you need to continue down dog-legged wooden stairs. There’s plenty of spots along the way to pause, catch your breath and snap a pic, before jumping off onto the pebbled floor. A 30 to 40-minute walk will take you to the end of the beach but be aware, your legs will feel like jelly once you return to hard ground! Although the pebbles were tough on the soles of my feet, I chose to paddle in the chilly sea, feeling smug about my solo trip before being caught out by a wave and soaking my legs – moments like this are harder to laugh off when you’re on your own!
But I persisted and hiked back up the hill, to head down the equally steep and possibly longer slope to Lulworth Cove on the other side. Spotting the similar exhausted expressions on my fellow walkers weirdly kept me going, like we were all in this together! And I was rewarded at the end with the most delicious gluten-free cream tea treat. This side of the bay was busier due to the shops and restaurants available, but luckily I’d timed it just right to get a prime viewpoint at the top of the hill to watch the world swim by.
Where to stay near Durdle Door?
I found the most adorable AirBNB in Chickerell. The Little Knapp was perfect by name and perfect by location. A small 1 bed apartment (with parking spot) was between 10 and 30 minutes away from different attractions including Durdle Door, Weymouth and Abbotsbury. With 2 local, cosy pubs within walking distance too, there was plenty to do along the Dorset coast…even when you’re on your own!