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The Dorset section of the Jurassic Coast is an endless treat of ever-changing vistas

PUBLISHED: 09:39 20 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:51 20 February 2013

Rock pooling at Lyme Regis

Rock pooling at Lyme Regis

The Dorset section of the Jurassic Coast is an endless treat of ever-changing vistas. We look at the familiar and not-so-familiar places along it which await our pleasure... Words: Shaun Forward

The Dorset section of the Jurassic Coast is an endless treat of ever-changing vistas. We look at the familiar and not-so-familiar places along it which await our pleasure... Words: Shaun Forward

How lucky we are to be living and breathing the scenery of our very own and extremely beautiful Jurassic Coast. Since gaining UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2001, our stretch of the Dorset to East Devon coastline has joined the ranks of such world wonders as the Grand Canyon, the Great Barrier Reef and the Tropical Rainforest of Sumatra! Within the geology of the coast lie many internationally important marine and terrestrial fossil localities, whilst around and about the coastline you'll discover an endless source of outstanding natural beauty. How marvellous then that we should have such an amazing wonder right on our doorstep to explore and enjoy.

Shell Bay and Studland

At the eastern outset of our Jurassic coastline, you will encounter the glorious beaches of Shell Bay and Studland. Easily reached from numerous car parks, this stretch of beautiful sandy beach with its grassy dunes and safe, clear waters is among the finest of its kind to be found anywhere in the UK. A lovely shoreline walk can be enjoyed from the chain ferry at Poole's harbour entrance, round to the South Beach at Studland. Cafs at Knoll Beach and South Beach or the quaint Bankes Arms at Studland all offer perfect resting places and excellent refreshment to sustain you before the return journey to your car.

Swanage

Its large sweeping bay offers safe, shallow bathing and the town's quaint Victorian charm still endures the passage of time. However, the town's roots are firmly embedded in the marble and quarrying industry, originally conducted by 1st-century Romans. Fishing is another old and important industry for the town and the picturesque quayside still reflects this. But it was local MP William Morton Pitt who, in the 19th century, converted a town mansion house into a luxury hotel - which became

a favourite of one Princess Victoria - to whom Swanage owes its tourism industry of today.

Bat's Head

The chalk cliff on the west side of Durdle Door makes a wonderful backdrop for an isolated walk. The cliff can be reached in 15 to 20 minutes by following the cliff-top path west from Lulworth Cove village. Descend to the shingle beach at Durdle Door and make your way west along the beach to admire the cliffs.

The Fleet and Chesil Bank

The 13km Fleet Lagoon is a shallow area of saline water between the awesome 18-mile Chesil Beach and the mainland. Amongst many other forms of wildlife, the Fleet is home to free-flying mute swans, which can also be seen breeding at the famous Abbotsbury Swannery. Refreshments can be found at either end of this vast natural wonder, but you might want to take a picnic of your own to keep you going!

Abbotsbury

The village of Abbotsbury, nestling under a steep limestone hill, is well worth a visit. Stroll along its winding high street, which features many thatched stone cottages, pubs and craft galleries. Gain panoramic views by climbing the hill to the medieval Abbey remains, enjoy the sub-tropical garden founded by Elizabeth Strangways Horner, or wander amid nests of newborn cygnets in spring at The Swannery.

Burton Bradstock

Just a few miles to the east of Bridport lies the pretty village of Burton Bradstock. Once a tightly knit community of farmers, fishermen, net makers and flax spinners, the village has retained much of its character and offers a glimpse into a bygone age. Make sure you find your way down to the coast - its shelving shingle beach and towering cliffs are extremely dramatic. You'll also find an excellent beachside caf here at Hive Beach.

West Bay

West Bay is a bustling community one mile south of Bridport town. The rope making and fishing industries are still evident, but tourism is the main thrust these days. The new harbour pier is an impressive sight and affords excellent views of the majestic cliffs shrouding the village. After savouring the harbour's hustle and bustle, perhaps enjoy peaceful coastal walks at West Bexington and Seatown.

Lyme Regis

Visitors to this pretty seaside town will be rewarded with a whole host of diverse attractions. Packed with small shops, galleries, studios, cafs and pubs, this is a fine base for an extended stay. The famous Cobb is an absolute must for a bracing stroll. Furthermore, the harbour, beach and adjacent coastline are all also bursting with atmosphere and will not disappoint!

Photos courtesy of Cliff Towler of the Creative Gallery,

St John's Hill, Wareham. www.creative-studios.com (01929 551700.s

Five things to help you enjoy your day

1 Do a bit of background reading before you set off. You'll be better prepared to make the most of your visit

2 Wear suitable clothing (even take spare)

3 Try local specialities - it'll make your day

4 Take binoculars, you'll see so much more!

5 Finally, please observe local signs and codes of practice. These are for your safety and to ensure our coast is left unspoiled for others to enjoy




The Jurassic Coast is a fabulous stretch of coastline. Perhaps you'd like to tell us just which section of it is your favourite, or which place along it you love to visit? Tell us on our forum at www.dorsetmagazine.co.uk

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