I’m one of those types of people that have never been overly enthusiastic about the thought of visiting places in the UK. I don’t deny there are certainly beautiful and interesting places, but I’d rather spend my money on exploring the great wide world. However a few years ago a photo of the Durdle Door appeared on my Pinterest feed, and ever since then I’ve been a little bit obsessed about visiting it. It’s remained firmly on my bucket list ever since. Two years later I finally stopped saying mañana and booked Monday off work to visit this stunning looking place. A little research later and I was even more obsessed with visiting the Durdle Door at sunrise, and I am one of those types of people, that when I get something in my head, I have to do it! To be successful in my sunrise mission, in the space of a day, meant pulling an all nighter and driving the three hours from my home in Bedfordshire down to Dorset through the night.
At 03:30 I neared the end of my lengthy drive, and as I contested the dark and twisty country lanes I became ever aware of a slight pink glow on the horizon to my right. Becoming a little anxious with the fear of failing my mission I put my foot down a little heavier on the pedal. I arrived at the Lulworth Cove car park 03:54. Although the sky was still dark, the increasing glow to my left lit up my surroundings enough to make me feel safe.
Lulworth Cove is a 24 hour car park and parking charges do apply with a six hour plus stay costing £9.00 payable on card or by cash.
Throwing my backpack over my shoulders and armed with my camera, it took me a matter of seconds to locate the steep white chalk path leading away from Lulworth Cove towards the Durdle Door. The path seemed to be illuminated from the rising light in the sky as if it was showing me the way. I took to the trail as if I was attacking the 100m, but shamefully I was soon panting and out of breathe like a 20 a day smoker; a stark reminder that I have been neglecting my sessions in the gym! Reaching the top with a sigh of relief I scanned behind me at the pink and orange sky wondering if Google’s predictions of when the sun would rise was correct, but not wasting too much time to think about it, I put my long legs to good use and marched the trail as it followed the coastline around; thankful that for now it appeared I had finished with any inclines.
As I rounded the next corner I caught a glimpse of what I hoped was the Durdle Door. Stealing a glance behind me at the magical and colourful sky I realised with a pang of disappointment that the sun wasn’t going to rise through the Durdle Door archway as I had seen in those amazing photographs on the internet. Quickly deciding that I wasn’t going to let this minor (possibly major) detail deter me I continued on until I reached the top of the Man O War beach, which lies to the left of the Durdle Door. It was only once I arrived here that I allowed myself to stop and soak up the stunning views that lay before me. The only noise around me was birdsong, not even the ocean was awake yet after the very still and humid night.
Now I was actually here I felt like I could finally relax. I wandered down the steps that lead to the pebble beach of the Durdle Door and strolled along taking photos of every angle and detail around me. I was completely alone, no other human was yet up exploring, which made the whole experience just a little bit more special. The Durdle Door itself looked fairly sleepy and unimpressive, but that was only until the sun became high enough in the sky to light it up and truly bring it to life. And once that happened, the Durdle Door looked truly magnificent and everything I had dreamt it to be.
Once I decided my eyes had feasted long enough on the Durdle Door I climbed the steps from once I came and continued along the coastline trail I had yet to venture on. I scaled the steep cliff path, which put my vertigo to the test and I opted not to look behind me until I had reached the top at 05:40. The steep climb to the top was 100% worth it and I really did feel on top of the world standing on the chalk cliff edge looking back towards the Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. Satisfied with the views I carefully navigated my way back down and found myself a little sheltered place to sit and admire the coastline whilst I enjoyed my well deserved breakfast.
An hour or so later I headed back to Lulworth Cove and had a quick power nap in the car to recharge my batteries before exploring the next section of coastline. My first stop was the “Stair Hole”, a small cove that lies just to the west of Lulworth Cove where classic stages of erosion are clearly visible, including; caves, blow-holes, arches, stacks and stumps. It’s a bit of steep climb down that I would only advise the able to do, but once down at sea level you get a really good close up view of the erosion and rock formations. I sat on the rocks here for a while until I became very aware of the sun high in the sky beating down on me, so I pushed off and moved on to Lulworth Cove.
Lulworth Cove is a beautiful area with a pebble beach surrounded by high cliffs and boasts turquoise waters where small fishing boats gently bob up and down. Deciding that this was the perfect place to relax for the next few hours I found myself a large flat rock and lay myself down on my beach towel and soaked up some rays.
By the time I was ready to seek out some lunch the cove was a hive of activity with holidaymakers here for an afternoon of fun and sun. As I headed into the quaint village of Lulworth for some lunch and an obligatory ice cream, my only wish for the day was that today’s tourists didn’t leave as much rubbish behind them as the weekends’ visitors did, I truly do not understand how people can come somewhere quite so beautiful and so easily leave their litter without a second thought…