Dorset’s Jurassic Coast & Hiking with the Swanage Walking Group

This entry is part 18 of 25 in the series Literary London & Enid Blyton's Dorset

Lulworth Castle Hike
What better way to meet locals than to hitch a ride out to the countryside where the bus doesn’t run and then spend a few hours hiking with them through cow pastures on a castle estate? There might be better ways, but this was ours. Having discovered the Swanage Walking Group through their webpage, we joined their Wednesday hike around the grounds of Lulworth Castle.

Lulworth Castle

Similar to our own local Wednesday/Saturday hike group at home, this group was made up of retirees. It was quite a group of characters, very friendly and welcoming people. We weren’t sure what sort of reception Americans would get in Britain. (Britain’s portrayal of Americans in TV shows is always very bad-and that’s pretty much all I had to go on.) This group was very interested in learning about us and comparing British culture/politics/economics with us. I was very happy to discover that the ladies I was chatting with completely understood my visiting the area because I was a fan of Enid Blyton! In the United States when I mention The Famous Five and Enid Blyton I’m too often met with blank stares. If you haven’t read her books, go to the library, now.

In Haremere Wood we stopped for coffee. Our American guests are on the left.
*Photo & caption from the Swanage Walking Group webpage*
*More photos from their hikes can be found on their webpage*

All the while we tramped through cow pastures, because British trails just run through cow pastures like it’s no big deal. I never realized how big cows really are until this hike! And yet, I have no qualms about hiking through woods where bears roam free.

Cows in the fields of the Lulworth Estate

Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door, Jurassic Coast

Durdle Door, Lulworth Jurassic Coast

After the hike a couple members of the walking group were more than happy to drop us off at Lulworth Cove where we could do the hike to Durdle Door. I had read about this natural earth formation during my research for the trip and had hoped to visit it. Durdle Door is a very large rock archway on the Jurassic Coast of Britain. This coast is well known for having ammonites fossils from the Jurassic age and I was hoping to see fossils and chalk cliffs at Durdle Door as well.

Durdle Door

The trail to Durdle Door starts at Lulworth Cove, which surprised us in it’s small size.

Lulworth, view from the hill above the cove

There is a large car park, a gift shop and cafe, a couple small inns, and that was about it. The place was PACKED with tourists. The trail to Durdle Door goes straight up and over a steep hill, and some out of shape tourists we passed really weren’t looking so good. While the path was only about a mile long, it was pretty tiring, but totally worth it when we reached the cliff top above the beach.

View of Durdle Door beach and chalk cliffs from the path

 Interestingly, the beach is not sandy, but instead completely made of polished rocks. And I finally got to see chalk cliffs up close! And yes, the rock writes like chalk.

The beach at Durdle Door was made completely of polished rocks

Because the area around Swanage is most easily accessible by taxi, and the area is so small that there is one reasonably priced, well known taxi service, our Airbnb host always told us, “Just call Martin.” (of Swanage & Purbeck Taxi Ltd.) So, now finding ourselves back at the gift shop in Lulworth Cove, we did just that, we just called Martin. However, it was Dave that drove us back to Swanage. Apparently Dave drives when Martin wants a day off.

What’s you’re favorite way of meeting locals while you travel? Tell me about it!

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