Walk - Lulworth Cove & The Fossil Forest walk
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
A short walk to see Lulworth Cove and the nearby fossilised forest – highlights of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The fossilised forest is with the Lulworth Firing Range and so can only be visited when the range is open (most weekends and school holidays - click here for precise dates).
- From Lulworth Cove Car Park walk down past the Heritage Centre (free entry), turn right and walk up the road for about 100 metres. You then turn left on to the path which will take you to viewing platforms overlooking Stair Hole and the Lulworth Crumple.
Stair Hole is a spectacular small cove, with natural rock arches, formed in a similar way to nearby Durdle Door. The Lulworth Crumple is a dramatic example of what happens when continental plates collide and fold and contort layers of sedimentary rock. From the last viewing platform back track to the large World Heritage Site commemoration stone and bear right across the old village green and down to the beach.
The circular shape of the cove is due to the sea breaking through a fault in the limestone beds running across the mouth of the cove and then being able to erode the soft clays that lie immediately inland of it. The softness of the clays can also be seen in the way the cliffs have slumped between the path and the small cove at Stair Hole.
- If the tide is in, follow the Coast Path which goes up the steps to the left of the beach café. If not, walk across the back of the beach to a timber staircase on the far side. At the top of these steps you rejoin the Coast Path. Here turn right and after about 50 metres right again towards Pepler’s Point.
On this section the path runs over the soft clay, so this section can be muddy after rain.
- From the Point continue along the coast eastwards and after about 100 metres you will pass through the gate into the ranges. Just on the other side, a set of steps leads you down to the fossilised forest.
This consists of doughnut shaped layers of algae and mud (now compressed to form limestone) that built up around the base of the ancient trees when they were drowned within a swamp some 135 million years ago. In places the trees have fallen over and entire logs are coated with limestone.
- From the forest return to the range gate, but instead of turning left to the point, cross the Coast Path and go down to the buildings at Little Bindon. Here turn left, passing through the range gate and walk along the path to the top of the steps to the beach. As before, depending on the tide either walk back across the beach or turn right and walk behind the cove across Bindon Hill.
This is very steep with 336 steps to climb, but the views from the top along miles of the coast both ways and looking down on the cove are worth it (honestly!).
In spring and early summer the limestone grassland of Bindon Hill is full of rare flowers and clouds of butterflies. Careful grazing management is needed to maintain their specialized habitat. Without this, the grassland would quickly become overgrown with blackthorn and other scrub and the flowers and butterflies would be lost.
Across Bindon Hill are the massive earthworks of a hill fort built by Iron Age settlers about 500BC, and later taken over by the Romans who used the cove as a port. Folklore has it that the hill is haunted by Roman soldiers who appear here at times of national crisis.
- Follow the path running next to the fence across Bindon Hill, and cross the second stile on the left to descend back to Lulworth Cove and the car park.
Lulworth Cove is dog-friendly throughout the year.
Pub and cafes at Lulworth Cove.
Near to the start/end of the walk in West Lulworth the Castle is recommended by users of www.doggiepubs.org.uk as serving good food and being dog-friendly.