When we bought our campervan, we talked about places we would like to visit, and one that we both agreed on was Durdle Door in Dorset. I remember learning about Durdle Door in my geography lessons over 30 years ago but as I haven’t spent much time holidaying in the UK it’s somewhere I’ve never been to. With Covid putting a stop to overseas travel last year, the UK was our oyster!
Location, location, location
Obviously if the focus of our trip was to be Durdle Door, I wanted to be as close to it as possible. Enter stage left, Durdle Door Holiday Park. A mixture of static caravans, tent pitches and campervan pitches, it’s right on the edge of the path that leads you down to the beach and the famous landmark. There is nothing closer.
Of course with that desirable location comes popularity and demand, so when we nabbed the last pitch for 4 nights in August I was super chuffed, not to mention a little bit nervous as it was to be our longest trip to date.
We chose a serviced pitch which, as well as having electric hook up, also had it’s own water tap and drainage which was nicely convenient. We arrived after a wet and pretty miserable drive to rain and driving winds. In a previous life I would have lost the plot (actually, in a previous life, I would never have entertained staying in a campervan!) but instead we dug out the wine and got ourselves in the holiday mood until such point the weather had eased enough for us to unpack and set up our awning.
Things I didn’t know about Durdle Door
It’s a HELL of a walk down to the beach. Absolute killer. There are no handrails and no smooth path – nor should there be. It’s unspoilt and rustic and sandy and bumpy and my feet and legs felt every single step of it; more so on the way back up! But obviously it’s completely worth it which is why we did it twice – once on day one when the rain had eased off, and again the following day in blue skies and sunshine (good old changeable British weather!)
Another interesting fact – Durdle Door isn’t just there, it actually belongs to someone! It’s owned by the Weld family, who own the Lulworth Estate area. Imagine saying you own Durdle Door! If you wanted to, you could just choose to knock it down, or paint it pink!
There are multiple camping options on the Park; electric pitches suitable for campervans and motorhomes which are nicely spaced out and with a hedge on 3 sides for privacy. There’s also a tent area, glamping pods, and the cliff face area where you can’t have an awning or a tent purely because it’s so exposed there’s a good chance you might blow away! Our pitch was in a good position just a short walk to the toilet block (plenty of loos and showers, although they did switch off automatically about every 20 seconds!) and a short walk the other way towards the coastal views and the descent to the beach.
The site also has a well stocked shop and an onsite pub serving drinks and food; everything felt very Covid safe when we were there (after lockdown one). Being quite a large site and visiting during summer holidays we thought it may be noisy at times but we were pleasantly surprised. Security people check the site periodically during the evening and there were no errant children causing a nuisance (unless you count the husband!)
South West Coastal Path
Durdle Door Holiday Park is also perfectly situated to join the South West Coastal Path and walk to Lulworth Cove. The views are absolutely breathtaking, as is the walk! For the sedentary amongst us (hi!!) it wasn’t the easiest of climbs – either up or back down. It isn’t overly steep to most people I guess (but again, hi!) but it’s a little bit uneven underfoot and it was a hot day (my excuse and I’m sticking to it). That said it was absolutely worth it to look back towards Durdle Door, and to see Lulworth Cove as you reach the peak.
After the rain and winds of the day before we had woken up to clear blue skies – we couldn’t have chosen a more picture perfect day to make the journey. We stopped for a well earned drink at the Lulworth Cove Inn, climbed some more vantage points to take in all of the sights looking down on Lulworth Cove and watching the crashing waves at Stair Hole and then rounded it off with an ice cream.
There’s a bus that runs from Lulworth Cove back to Durdle Door, but we had just missed it and there wasn’t another one for ages so we retraced our steps back up and over the hell hill which brought us right back to the campsite. Being gluttons for punishment we decided to have another look at Durdle Door, this time at beach level (we’d only gone half way down the day before due to the less than ideal weather).
As well as the famous landmark and beach, if you look in the other direction there is Man O’War bay, with a great rock formation just off the coast from years of being bashed by the relentless waves. None of this area is particularly easily accessible, with lots of wooden steps to get down to sea level, but it’s just something you have to do, isn’t it? The beach is made of pebble and shale – so not very easy to walk on – your feet will thank you for some decent shoes rather than flip flops!
A short drive away from the holiday park is Lulworth Castle; also part of the Lulworth estate and owned by the Weld family. As English Heritage members we were able to get free entry (this is a special offer, Lulworth Castle isn’t an English Heritage property but they allow members access at no cost). It’s an impressive building and the approach from the car park is quite the scene, but inside was really disappointing to be honest. It’s also used as a wedding venue, and there was lots of evidence of that around; chairs folded and propped against a wall kind of took away the grandeur of the history.
I’d have no hesitation in recommending Durdle Door Holiday Park – it’s all about location, location, location but there’s no compromise on facilities either. The whole area was a delight – if your legs are up to it the sites of the East Lulworth coastline are amazing.