I’m always so curious as to whether the average non-Brit knows there’s so much more to the UK than just London and Edinburgh. I can say honestly that before moving to London 3 years ago, my mind never even thought to wander much farther than that (I also thought that England, Scotland, Wales would all give me separate passport stamps when crossing the borders, so take my advice as you will).
I’m not sure exactly where I first learned of Durdle Door and the Jurassic Coast, but I know that whatever that moment was, it was immediately added to my bucket list. I’ve been trying to do more UK based trips recently – partly because I’ve run out of annual leave, but also because I want to make the most out of my time here. I was SO excited when I was able to convince some gal pals to come explore the great outdoors in Dorset.
We found this absolutely adorable little camping pod on the Durdle Door Holiday Park (do it for the insta, amIright?), and booked a few months in advance for a weekend in July. In my head, I figured by the time July comes round, the weather will be lovely, we’d lounge on the beach and get a tan, right?
Wrong. This has been the summer of winter! It was forecasted to chuck it down with a side helping of thunder and lightening – thankfully, for the most part they both held off. The weather was a bit chilly, which actually worked in our favour as it meant busloads of tourists didn’t show up!
We hopped on the train for about two and a half hours from London Waterloo all the way to Wool station. PRO TIP: I’d recommend buying your tickets far in advance, especially if travelling in the summer. Tickets were originally forecasted to be £12 return, and ended up costing £43.50 each because we bought last minute. 😐 Budget blown.
Once we got to Wool, we hopped in a quick 10 minute cab ride – aka the ONLY cab driver in the region – all the way to the Durdle Door Holiday Park and checked into our pod. This was not glamping by any means, but it was perfect for our weekend away. We brought our own sleeping bags and pillows and ate at the pub on the campgrounds, but a lot of people came fully prepared with their George Foremans and marshmallows. Good for them.
Durdle Door Beach
Within a 7 minute walk from our pod, we were down at the beach where Durdle Door itself sits. As you travel down the dirt path towards the sea, the gorgeous tropical looking colours of the English Channel are contrasted against the white chalky cliffs. Personally, I felt transported to the Caribbean, which was a nice feeling after being trapped in a city for so long. You go around a little bend, and then BAM, there she be! The incredible natural phenomena of Durdle Door!
The door is made out of limestone and was created from tens of thousands of years of the sea bashing against the rocks, eventually creating an archway. The whole area forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO site made out of incredibly diverse geology and sediment (transparency: I Googled all of this, FYI). I can personally attest that you will not believe you’re still in rainy grey ol’ England!
We sat and watched the sunset dance overtop of the water, listening to the waves rolling along. At that exact moment, The Kooks song ‘Seaside’ popped into my head.
*I fell in love at the seasideeee*
And by ‘fell in love’ I mean with nature, because, forever alone.
Day 2 we got up early, had some ‘American style pancakes,’ at the pub onsite, which was actually super strange and more of a soggy pancake, bacon stack than anything.
After breakky, we decided to head to nearby Lulworth Cove, another incredible seafront natural phenomena. To get to the cove, you follow along the coastal path from the Holiday Park for 25 minutes before spotting the tiny town of West Lulworth in the distance. As you walk in line with the sea, the colours change to a multitude of shades of green and blue. Turquoise like you would never believe!
Wandering through the tiny town of West Lulworth was a DREAM! As a North American, everything I knew about England was basically from The Holiday. West Lulworth was like stepping back in time to an era of Kings and Queens; everything was in perfectly preserved thatched roof cottages and quaint windy roads. I.was.in.love.
In the village, there’s an incredible sweet and traditional homemade Dorset fudge shop called The Doll’s House, which has orgasmic salted caramel fudge <3 (I may have bought two logs of it hehe) (and I may have eaten both in the same day – shhh!). There’s also an adventure Coasteering company that lets you climb on, jump through, and swim around the rocks of the cove, I wish I knew about it beforehand because that’s something completly up my alley! Guess I’ll just have to plan a trip back!
We stopped at a local pub for lunch and asked the barman what he recommended we do in the area. The suggestion was to visit a local abandoned village called, Tyenham. In November 1943, the village was given 28 days notice to vacate the area as it was needed for Armed Forces training in the lead up to D Day. The villagers left with the assumption they would be back in a few months, but were never to see their homes again. The town is trapped in time, with the only new residents being the overgrowth of vines and wildflowers. It was an interesting place to visit and one that I don’t think many tourists know about. It’s a bit of a journey by foot to get to, but I would definitely recommend it.
Watch out as you go there as the area continues to be used as a live shooting range for most of the year and you literally have to cross fields with abandoned army tanks and cows wandering around. Classic England!
All in all, Dorset was an incredibly beautiful place and one that I would love to return to with a car one day. Durdle Door is one of those things you need to see with your own eyes, so wait on those cheap train tickets and head to the seaside – I’m not trying to say that everybody wants to go, but I fell in love at the seaside.
Check out more of my UK adventures: