The walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door is one of the most popular coastal walks in Dorset! Connecting two of the biggest stars of the Jurassic Coast, this is a stunning walk along the cliffs and back through rolling countryside and pretty villages.
At its simplest, this is a 1-mile-each-way linear walk following the South West Coast Path. However, there are several circular walks and loops you can do to extend the route and see a bit more of the area.
Mine is an 8.2km (5 mile) circuit from Lulworth Cove. You’ll head down to Durdle Door, then back through the brilliantly-named Scratchy Bottom, along the back of Hambury Tout, and down into West Lulworth. From there, you can head along the back of Lulworth Cove for some more incredible views, finally returning along the beach.
If 5 miles sounds a bit much, I’ve included a few variations that will allow you to shorten the route. By skipping a few steps you can make this a shorter 3- or 4-mile route instead. Whichever version you choose, this is one of the loveliest coast walks in Dorset – so enjoy!
Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door – Details and Map
- Distance: 8.2km / 5.1 miles (alternative 3-4 mile shorter ciruclars, or 1-mile-each-way linear option, details below)
- Time: 2 – 3 hours for the full route
- Elevation: 6m lowest – 145m highest
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Accessibility: No stiles. Mostly dirt, gravel and grassy tracks. The South West Coast Path from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door is made up of wide, sloping steps. A second set of steep stone steps is avoidable if you skip the walk to the far side of Lulworth Cove. Several steep ascents and descents.
- Parking: Paid parking at Lulworth Cove carpark (BH20 5RS) – £5 for 4 hours or £10 for the day. There is limited free parking in the village of West Lulworth if you prefer to start the walk from there. Church Road is normally the best bet but it gets full quickly on busy days. Take care not to inconvenience the villagers if you do park there.
To make following this walk easier, feel free to use my GPS trail route on Wikiloc. It’s a free app where people can share hiking routes! You’ll probably still find my instructions below helpful, though.
Linear Walk: Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, 2 Miles
If you only want to walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door and back, you can simply follow Steps 1-2 of this route. Spend some time enjoying Durdle Door and the beaches, then return back the way you came. It’s a very straightforward linear walk, approximately 1 mile (1.75km) each way.
If you only want to walk one way, you can also take the X54 bus back to Lulworth Cove. The bus stop is the Durdle Door Park Entrance, on West Road at the end of the drive which leads into Durdle Door carpark, and it will take you right back to the car park at Lulworth Cove.
Lulworth – Durdle Door Walk Variations
The fantastic thing about this walk from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door is that there are many optional variations. You can take the same route in reverse, making your way from West Lulworth and up behind Hambury Tout to reach Durdle Door. Alternatively, you can park in West Lulworth and start the walk from there (step 6 on my route).
You can cut the walk shorter by skipping the route through Scratchy Bottom at Steps 3-4, or by heading directly back to the carpark when you get back to West Lulworth, skipping steps 6-7.
There are also some options to elongate the walk. For example, by climbing up Swyre Head and heading back around the top of Scratchy Bottom. I’ve indicated a few of the variations throughout my instructions below. So adapt the walk to suit your needs, time, and energy levels!
Circular Walk – Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, 5 Miles
Step One – Lulworth Cove
Start at the back of Lulworth Cove carpark. There is a wooden gate with a very obvious path leading directly up and over the hill. This is the South West Coast Path. Pass through the gate and follow the sloping stone steps steeply up the hill.
As you gain elevation, you will be able to see Lulworth Cove behind you, and across the sea to Portland Bill ahead. It is a very sharp climb, but this is probably the hardest part of the walk and you are getting it over and done with early!
Keep following the path over the crest of the hill. Ahead, you will be able to see the smaller archway at Bat’s Head. One day this could be as big as Durdle Door!
The path will begin to slope downwards now, with Durdle Door still just out of sight below you to the left and the Durdle Door Caravan Park ahead of you to the right. There is only one path to follow and it is clearly signposted as the Durdle Door Coast Path.
Step Two – Durdle Door
Eventually, the path will reach a wooden gate at a T-junction with a wooden fingerpost. From here you should be able to get your first glimpse of Durdle Door away to the left, however, there are much better views coming up. Pass through the gate and turn left to continue following the coast path down to Durdle Door.
As the path flattens out, you will be able to see Man O’War Bay below on your left. This crescent-shaped bay is one of the loveliest beaches in Dorset. From above on a clear day, you can see right to the seafloor below the water!
Eventually, the pathway opens out at the cliff edge with stairs leading down to Man O’War Beach on your left and the coast path curving away along the cliffs on your right. Ahead you will have a fabulous view of the famous Durdle Door archway. If you wish to go down to the beach, there is a set of winding wooden steps ahead of you. You can walk all the way along the beach to Bat’s Head (tide depending).
Step Three – Scratchy Bottom
Variation: For a shorter 4-mile route option you can turn back at this point and make your way uphill as far as Durdle Door carpark. This will then pick the route back up at step 5.
To continue our walk, turn right and continue following the cliff path, which will begin to climb gently uphill with Durdle Door on your left. As the path climbs slowly uphill you will get another amazing view of Durdle Door with Man O’War Bay behind it.
Continue following the cliff path as it curves slightly uphill, then downhill, before reaching the base of an incredibly steep climb ahead of you. This is Swyre Head.
Variation: If you’re up for the challenge, climbing Swyre Head will provide you with incredible views along the coast in both directions. You can then pass back along the top of the ridge and around the back of Scratchy Bottom in order to reach Durdle Door carpark, picking this walk back up at step 5.
Just before the base of Swyre Head, you will see a small stone marker with a yellow arrow directing you to the Campsite and Newlands Farm. On your right is a metal gate. Pass through this and follow the grassy track with a fence on your left into the small valley known as Scratchy Bottom.
Eventually, this path will curve around to the right, before coming out at another metal gate. Pass through the gate and keep heading gently uphill with the fence on your left.
You will shortly reach a second gate signposted with a yellow trail marker for the West Lulworth Country Path. Don’t take this gate: instead, head through the small metal gate on your right and follow the winding path up through a small thicket of pine trees on the edge of the Caravan Park.
At a crossroads with a road leading into the caravans on your left, keep heading straight, winding gently uphill with lovely views behind you of Scratchy Bottom, Swyre Head, and – in the distance – Weymouth and Portland.
At the top, you will reach a small group of trees and a small gate. Pass through this, but instead of heading straight ahead, veer slightly to the left keeping the fence on your right and the caravan park on your left, until you reach Durdle Door carpark.
Step Five – Hambury Tout
Pass through a small metal gate and across the carpark to the entrance on the far side, where you will see a fingerpost across the road from the area with the toilet block.
Follow the sign for West Lulworth Youth Hostel along a grassy path leading through the overflow carpark and gently downhill towards a metal gate.
Variation: An alternative option here is to take the path forking to the right up over Hambury Tout, but this is a bit of a climb and skips the village of West Lulworth, so I prefer the downhill route.
About halfway down the hill, you will come to two gates with a fingerpost directing you towards Lulworth Cove. Both paths here come out in the same place, next to Hambury Farm, although I prefer the gentler descent through the lefthand gate.
Whichever path you take, continue descending down past the farm until you reach the road. There you will see a wooden fingerpost next to a gate.
Step Six – West Lulworth and Bindon Hill
Variation: Coming up is a bit of a climb, a steep descent, and a walk back along the beach. If you want to cut the walk short here, you can turn right and follow the road back to Lulworth Cove car park.
Cross the road to reach the pavement, then turn left and follow it up towards West Lulworth village. Keep on this path as it veers slightly away from the road, following an arrow sign for the South West Coast Path diversion, then turn right up Bindon Road.
About halfway up the hill, you will see a metal gate on your right marked with a blue Coast Path sign. Head through this and up the hill, taking the right-hand fork through the gate with a yellow arrow marker.
As you reach the top of this short climb, the views of the village of West Lulworth behind you and the humped back of Hambury Tout on your right are exceptional.
You will be able to see how far you have come at this point, because the treeline on the ridge behind the Tout marks the entryway to Durdle Door carpark, while on the other side of the Tout you can see the steep cliff path you climbed at the start of this walk.
Continue following the path around the contours of the hill until you can see the sea away to your right and the path begins to climb slightly uphill. The path is signposted with acorn arrow markers and lined by yellow gorse bushes – these smell amazing during spring and summer.
Step Seven – Down into Lulworth Cove
You will come to a stone marker pointing to the Fossil Forest. There used to be a shortcut to the right here leading down to Lulworth Cove, skipping the next section of this walk. However, this has now been closed due to unstable cliffs.
Variation: If you don’t want to go any further you can always turn back at this point, head back down to West Lulworth village and walk along the road to Lulworth Cove. Before you do, climb just a little further to get a fantastic view of Lulworth Cove from above.
Eventually, you will come to a T-junction at a fence, where another stone signpost will point right for the Fossil Forest. Turn right here and head through the wooden gate following the blue Public Footpath arrow marker.
Stone steps lead very steeply downhill here with the fence on your left and Lulworth Cove spread out before you. Take care on the steps which are very steep and can be slippery when wet (or when dry and dusty in warm weather).
Towards the bottom of the hill, just before the last step of steps, you will see a small left-hand term with another stone marker. If you want to detour to see the Fossil Forest this is the way to go.
The Fossil Forest is the fossilised remains of an ancient submerged forest from Jurassic times. Its one of the most important geological sites in the area and well worth a visit if you have the time.
Otherwise, continue following the steps down onto the beach. Take care as you reach the beach, as at the time of writing the last few steps had collapsed.
Step Eight – Lulworth Beach and Village
Finally, walk back along the beach until you reach a small slipway at the entrance to the village, where a stream spills out across the beach into the sea.
Variation: One last optional detour here is to climb the path you can see leading up the cliff to your left, for a view of Stair Hole before heading back to the carpark.
If you’re in need of refreshments, the Boat Shed Cafe on the beach is very good, while Lulworth Cove Inn is one of my favourite Dorset pubs. Be sure to stop by the Dolls House sweetshop for their delicious homemade fudge!
Follow the road back up through the village to the car park. Stop by the excellent Visitor Centre before heading back to your car. There are toilet facilities here and a gift shop, as well as a small museum packed with info about the Jurassic Coast, including some locally found fossils.
I hope you enjoyed my Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door walk! If you have any questions please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment at the end of this post.