The Jurassic coast, a 95 mile stretch of coastline running from East Devon to Dorset, is a World Heritage site featuring 185 million years of history. Layers of sedimentary rock allow geologists to read the history of this coastline across the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods – and the cliffs here are rich in fossils.
I grew up in south Dorset, and spent my childhood summers playing on the beaches or rambling along the cliffs of this stunning region. These are some of my favourite cliff walks on Dorset's Jurassic Coast...
Old Harry Rocks
The bright white chalk stacks jutting from the sea at Handfast Point are just one example of the unique rock formations and amazing landscapes along the Dorset Jurassic Coast. Starting at Studland Bay, the circular walk to Old Harry Rocks is one of the easiest walking routes in Dorset, but it takes in one of the area's biggest attractions.
My personal favourite Dorset cliff walk is another easy one – and it ends at one of my favourite local pubs! The route from Bowleaze Cove to Smuggler's Inn at Osmington Mills follows a short section of the South West Coastal Path, and takes around an hour. You'll pass Redcliff Point on the way, an area that's particularly rich in fossils. And you'll finish at the historic Smuggler's Inn, once the hangout of a notorious smuggler gang.
A circular walk from Lime Regis to Charmouth along the beach, and back along the cliffs, is another of the Jurassic Coast's classic walking routes. And if you're interested in fossils, this is the place to come! Charmouth is one of the best places to find fossils in Dorset, and the Heritage Coast Centre here displays some of the best finds.
Ringstead to Durdle Door
No list of what to see in Dorset is complete without mentioning Durdle Door, a natural limestone arch and a real Dorset icon. There are easier walking routes you can follow to it, but the walk from Ringstead to Durdle Door, while tough, is one of the most rewarding.
St Alban's Head
Starting at Worth Martravers (the town with the most Dorset-sounding name in Dorset!), you can walk to the rocky headland of St Alban's Head via Seacomb and Winspit. The quarry at Winspit was used as a set for several old Dr Who episodes, and it's a pretty interesting spot to explore.