#98 – Walking the Jurassic Coast

Golden Cap above the Anchor Inn at Seatown, Dorset

I should make something quite clear.  I prefer to walk mountains, moors and high places.  Ok, so I sometimes I walk the dog on one of our local beaches, but I’m not a beach walker – I want ups and downs, and views that change with almost every step, things that you don’t get walking a beach.  Mind you, anyone familiar with the coastline of the UK will tell you that you are often in for a surprise if you go expecting a flat, easy beach walk.

A gloomy looking start to the day – looking east towards Portland ….

…. but brightening up towards Lyme Bay

Our walk over Dartmoor (see post #97) a couple of days earlier had been uncharacteristically benign.  A cool but bright day had eventually turned to T-shirt weather, something of a rare event on Dartmoor in my experience.  This had been followed the next day by storm conditions, and we had considered heading back for home.  Instead we soldiered on, heading for the Jurassic Coast of Devon and Dorset.

Golden Cap, seen from near Langdon Hill

The promise of fine weather soon had us out on the trail.  The plan was to walk a short section of the South West Coast Path, including the highest point on the path, the distinctive Golden Cap at 191 metres.  Our start point was the hamlet of Seatown – from there we headed inland, skirting round Langdon Hill, heading for the ruins of St Gabriel’s Church.

The ruins of St Gabriel’s Church

St Gabriel’s Church looking towards Lyme Bay

The church dates back to at least 1240 AD, but became derelict in the late 18th Century as the local population dwindled, though there could never have been many people living here as the church is tiny.  From St Gabriel’s we pressed on over Chardown Hill, a mere 194 metres high, but three metres higher than Golden Cap.  However, those three extra metres added little of interest to an otherwise unremarkable hill.

The path along the side of Stonebarrow Hill

Impressive cloud formations looking towards Golden Cap ….

…. and looking down towards the South West Coast Path

We pressed on along the side of Stonebarrow Hill, before starting to drop down to the South West Coast Path.  As we walked there were impressive cloud formations ahead of us, with the flat tops sometimes associated with storm clouds.  Not today though, and in a short time they had sorted themselves out into fair weather cumulus – no nasty weather surprises then!

On the South West Coast Path at last ….

…. with ups as well as downs ….

…. in fact sometimes it seemed to be all up!

Having established ourselves on the South West Coast Path, it soon became obvious that the trail was following the usual coastal formula – plenty of ups and downs.  The fragile nature of some sections of the trail soon became apparent, with the cliff edge crumbling away in places, sometimes quite close to the path.  Our dog ‘Mist’ seems to enjoy peering over these edges, and I made a mental note to keep a close eye on her on snow cornices this coming winter.

‘Mist’ checking out the crumbling cliff edge (re-called a few seconds afterwards!)

A final stretch of uphill ….

…. before the top, and the view down the other side ….

…. then time for some downhill

On coastal paths, every uphill is followed by a downhill, but in our case it was taking us back to Seatown, where our camper was parked up.  As luck would have it, the Anchor Inn was welcoming and dog friendly, which meant that we weren’t going to be doing any driving for the rest of the day.

The stony beach at Seatown ….

…. with a lively breeze driving the waves ashore

Before the pub, we just had to take a look at the beach – the storms of the previous couple of days, combined with a stiff breeze, made for a ‘lively’ sea, with not a bucket and spade in sight.  We shared the view with a handful of hardy fishermen!

No buckets and spades today, just hardy fishermen

 Our walk had been a short 10kms, but we had managed to include a total height gain of 550 metres, despite the highest point on the walk only topping out at 194 metres.  That’s coastal walking for you! The next day we had a short walk out in the Lulworth Cove area, and it looks as though Durdle Door may warrant another visit.  There might be something in this coastal walking after all!

A little further along the coast – Durdle Door near Lulworth Cove

Text and images © Paul Shorrock

p.s.  We had a great trip down to the South West, but I was soon looking forward to being back amongst the hills in the place I now call home – North Wales ….  (You can join me there in the blog next week)

About Paul Shorrock

I've been mucking about in the mountains for longer than I care to mention. I started out by walking my local hills, then went on to rock climbing, mountaineering and skiing. Still doing it, and still getting a buzz. I'm now sharing the fun, through my guided walking business (Hillcraft Guided Walking) and by writing routes for other publishers, mainly Walking World and Discovery Walking Guides. Just to make sure I keep really busy, I am also currently a member of my local mountain rescue team.
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18 Responses to #98 – Walking the Jurassic Coast

  1. Cogtography says:

    These are some beautiful landscape photo’s, have you ever considered going into landscape photography?

    Cogtography, a photographic blog (mainly for photographers) for all your inspirational and creative ideas, give us a comment, a like and maybe even a follow. Get creative, get inspired:


    • Thanks for the kind words 🙂

      I’ve never really considered myself as a photographer, more a writer who uses photographs. When an image does work out I’m delighted, but with me there’s an element of luck involved – you should see how many I don’t use 🙂

      I liked your blog – you have a good eye for an image as well as imagination.


  2. smackedpentax says:

    Really interesting post Paul…I have always fancied walking the Jurassic Coast.. like you I prefer mountains and moorlands but I have no objections to the coast. My Mrs and I often go to St. Bees and walk the coastal path there…


    • Cheers SP. There’s some really great coastal walking to go at – Chris and I walked part of the Coast Path in Pembroke some years back, and it was stunning, and I can see us going back to the Jurassic Coast..


  3. I used to know a guy who’d walked the whole of the South West Coast Path one summer and he said it was one of the hardest trails he’d ever done!


  4. Me and Richard did a lot of walking around that area as, when I used to work for Bradford & Bingley, they had a flat over their Bournemouth Branch which was let out cheaply to staff during the summer for a week at a time 🙂 I can confirm there’s a lot of up and down in that area – in fact, we found it a lot harder than mountain walking as, if you weren’t going up, you were going down.

    I think dogs are very bad with cliffs and edges – a lot of dogs seem to jump off cliffs quite often, especially Surprise View on the Watendlath Road. I wonder if they can judge the fact that, the ground they can see past the cliff, isn’t on the same level as the cliff?


  5. LensScaper says:

    A nice day for it, Paul. Tremendous skies. My brother-in-law lives in Lyme Regis so we know this area quite well. Walking part of the SW coastal path is on my list of things to do – you’ve reminded me of that fact. Next year I really must cross a few things off the Ambitions list. This year has been a dead loss from that point of view.


    • It’s been a strange year all round, and I suspect that yours is not the only list that has some gaps to fill – ah well, there’s always 2013 to go at 🙂


  6. Tim says:

    Paul – enjoyed your writing tone, just wished you had walked a bit further – didn’t want you to stop! Would you mind if I provide a link out from my walking blogs back to yours? See: http://www.jurassicagent.com/index.php/list-all/120-a-jolly-x53-jaunt-along-the-jurassic-coast
    or my home page: http://www.jurassicagent.com/
    Stride On!


    • Hi Tim, and thanks for the kind words 🙂

      I would be delighted for you to add a link to my blog, though you might find it more useful to link to that specific post (#98) as a good deal of my blog is about North Wales where I live.

      I’ll add links to your blog and website at the end of next weeks post – the Jurassic Coast post has sparked some interest in my readers about your part of the world, and it would be good to direct them towards a fellow enthusiast.

      Best wishes


  7. lanceleuven says:

    I’m glad the weather held out for you. It looks like you managed to squeeze the walk in on a surprisingly nice day considering the recent weather. It’s a delightful stretch of the coast down that way. Durdle Door is a great beach. And Portland has a great castle if that kind of thing interests you at all! 🙂


  8. Pingback: #99 – The ancient forts of the Clwydian Hills | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

  9. Pingback: #100 – What we did on our holidays | Paul Shorrock – One Man's Mountains AKA One Pillock's Hillocks

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