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.
September is a great time of year to get out on your bike and go exploring. It’s not too cold yet, but not as warm as it was in the height of summer. We thought this week would be perfect timing to bring you a blog post on all of the exciting routes you can take in our home country of Northern Ireland. We've been looking at all of Cycle NI's routes and we've chosen our top 5:
A beautiful country route between Kilkeel and the country village of Attical. This route allows you to take in breath-taking views of the Mourne Mountains. This route is a circular route allowing you to begin and end in the same place. This route takes you past beautiful scenery such as the Whitewater River, Cranfield beach, Greencastle, and then up through the country roads to take a better look at the mountains. We highly recommend this route if you are in the area.
Another stunning cycle route takes you along the North Coast of Northern Ireland between the legendary Giants Causeway and Benone, passing through Portrush, Portstewart, Coleraine and Castlerock. Quite a lot of this route follows a traffic-free shared use pathway adjacent to the Giants Causeway & Bushmills Heritage Railway line. With beautiful views of the coastline, this comes in at number 2 on our list of top cycle routes in Northern Ireland.
This route follows along the western shores of Strangford Lough and Drumlin Country rewards cyclists with some of the finest views of the Lough to be had by bicycle. Castle Espie Wetland Centre and Nendrum monastic site are particular points of interest on this route. Passing through Kilmood and taking time to appreciate the historic St Mary’s Parish Church built in 1820, you can follow the ridge high above Lisbane from where Strangford Lough can be seen off to one side before re-joining the outward route back to Comber.
This route gives a hilly ride through Drumlin country towards the south end of Lisburn. It takes you past lakes and loughs with great views of the Mourne Mountains, Belfast Hills and the Lagan Valley. This route is hilly for the most part with several short steep hills around Annahilt so it is recommended for experienced cyclists and people who are looking for a fitness challenge. There are also several fast descents on return to the Lagan Towpath so remember to take care.
We thought we would finish off our top five with a short 6 mile route that’s perfect for the whole family. The Castle Archdale Family Cycle Route is situated 15km north west of Enniskillen and explores 230 acres of mature forest. Situated on the shores of Lower Lough Erne, this route provides truly beautiful scenery for the whole family to enjoy.