Dorset's Lulworth Cove and nearby Durdle Door are world-famous beauty spots – Lucy Ford paid a visit, staying in a beautiful old inn at the heart of the village.
As a girl born in Devon but raised in landlocked Warwickshire, a chance to escape to the coast is one I will always jump at.
I love the smells, the sounds and – let’s be honest – slurping on a huge ice cream while dipping my toes in the big wide blue. And so, armed with one of my closest girlfriends, I set off down to Dorset for the weekend.
Our destination was The Lulworth Cove Inn, at the heart of the village and ideally-placed for exploring this world famous cove, which is a five-minute amble down a picturesque lane.
The inn has twelve rooms, all eclectically decorated, with a mixture of traditional and modern styles. Our bedroom boasted white floorboards, exposed brickwork and a free standing roll top-bath positioned by one of the windows, that looked directly out on to the bustling street below.
A huge mural of Lulworth Cove took up the entire wall behind the bed – which was honestly one of the most comfortable hotels beds I can remember sleeping in for a while.
Rooms at The Lulworth Cove Inn range from £120 to £135 – book via lulworth-coveinn.co.uk or call 01929 400333.
Food and Drink
Real fires, flagstone floors and exposed beams: this place is every inch the archetypal cosy pub, and it’s easy to see why it’s said be the hub of the local community. And the beer is top notch: the place is owned by nearby brewers Hall and Woodhouse, who make Badger real ales such as Tanglefoot and Fursty Ferret.
With the weather ruling out the beer garden, we had dinner in the main bar: a prawn cocktail starter was traditional and delicious, but it was the main course which really provided something memorable. Not wanting to risk food envy, my friend and I both choose the Pie of the Week dish for our main, consisting of not one but two pies.
One was a steak & Tanglefoot pie – a silver medallist at last year’s British Pie Awards – while the other was chicken and ham hock, served with a jug of gravy for the former and a jug of cheese sauce for the latter, along with fresh vegetables and chips. We mixed it up by sipping on a cold Sauvignon to wash it down – a perfect end to a lovely day.
Down at breakfast the next morning, a spread of pastries, cakes, cereals and yoghurts greeted us. There was a slab of fresh pure honey that looked like it had just been pulled from a hive – I certainly haven’t seen this offered before and it made for a welcome addition to the buffet. The hot menu was a varied choice to suit every appetite, from avocado on toast to the full fried English, just perfect to set us up for the walk along the coast to Durdle Door.
Starters £5-£9, main courses £10-£16.50, desserts £4.75-£7.50 – lulworth-coveinn.co.uk/food-and-drink
Things to do
The Lulworth estate has a huge amount to offer. Owned by the Weld family, stretches over 20 square miles, incorporating five miles of the Jurassic Coast, Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Lulworth Castle.
The walk to Durdle Door
The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage site that stretches from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset – a distance of about 96 miles. For geologists it is a playground in which to discover 185 million years of history and see fossils, rock formations and erosions from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
Two and a half miles of this extraordinary coastline is the walk from Lulworth Cove to the world-famous Durdle Door (pictured at the top of the page), an extraordinary natural archway.
Formed 140 million years ago (give or take) the iconic limestone arch stands 200 ft at its highest point. After a hearty breakfast, the walk can appear daunting as you look up the steep hill from Lulworth’s main car park (well it did for us), but stick with it as the views are definitely worth it and Durdle Door is quite the visual reward.
Guided walks and ‘coasteering’
A guided walk of the Lulworth Cove coastline will open your eyes to the beauty of the area – we took a trip with the brilliant Derry Billings from Lulworth Outdoors. A geologist by trade, he belongs to the team of education rangers and what he doesn’t know about the area isn’t worth knowing.
For those seeking more adventure than education, a three-hour ‘coasteering’ experience involves clambering up and down cliffs, exploring caves – including the famous ‘Stair Hole’ and diving into the sea.
Built in the 17th century as a hunting lodge to entertain royalty and aristocracy, this mock castle was ravaged by fire in August 1929, leaving it practically in ruins. In the 1970s partial restoration began when a new roof was added and it is now a fascinating museum. The information boards dotted around the huge rooms use photographs taken by and published in Country Life before the devastating fire and show the grandeur of the castle’s previous life.
These days the walls are bare brick and there are no floors, so as you can stand in one of the great rooms and look up to the roof, you see doors and fireplaces that once belonged to rooms that are no longer there. If walls could talk…
Make sure you climb the tower for spectacular views of the Purbeck countryside, take a wander around the local woodland, keeping an eye out for peacocks and finish off with a cream tea in the castle café. Adults £6, children £4 (under-4s free).
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