The Jurassic Coast has some of the most stunning scenery in the UK with natural arches, limestone stacks, and towering cliffs. Here are 7 great coastal walks on the Jurassic Coast to help you see the best.

By: Mark Barnes | Published: 28 Jun 2023 | Last update: 21 Nov 2023

The South West Coast path is one of the most iconic trails in Britain. Stretching 630 miles along the southwest of the country, the route collects everything from stunning beaches to historic castles; cream teas to comfy country pubs.

A small section of the path (about 100 miles) contains the Jurassic Coast. Here, jagged white cliffs plunge into the ocean and huge arcs of golden beaches frame the English Channel making it some of the finest scenery in Britain.

The good news is you don’t need to traverse the entire 630 miles to get a taste of this dramatic countryside. We have put together 7  Jurassic Coast walks that capture the best of the area in both Devon and Dorset. Each is only 1 to 3 hours long, not too difficult, and makes for a great half-day out.

dorest coastal walks

IN THIS GUIDE

JURASSIC COAST WALKS


1 – OLD HARRY ROCKS

Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 6.2 kilometres (3.9 miles) | Time – 2 hours | Our Tip – Don’t stand too near the edge of the cliffs when taking photos.


Old Harry Rocks was once two white limestone rocks standing proud at the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. Unfortunately, Old Harry’s Wife crumbled into the sea at the end of the 19th century.

Old Harry remains and, joined by other white stone monoliths, it’s one of the most impressive stretches of coastline in the UK.

This clifftop circuit from Studland Village along the Old Harry coastline is a great way to take in the glistening white chalk formations in the area. In addition, the grasslands near the rocks are awash with unusual wildflowers and an abundance of butterflies.

Where to start the walk? — This Jurassic Coast walk starts at the car park at the Bankes Arms pub in Studland.

Details —  You can either do a quick walk from the pub to Old Harry Rocks and back (25 minutes each way) or complete a loop via Ballard Point (2 hours). Maps and instructions are on the South West Coast Path website.

2 – ST ALDHELM’S CLIFFS WALK

Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 4.4 kilometres (2.8 miles) | Time – 1 hour | Our Tip – Wear walking boots after rain as it can get muddy walking across the fields.


The St Aldhelm’s Cliff walk passes a rugged section of the Dorset coastline that is unfairly under-visited. This is a great walk to admire the harsh realities of the battered coastline and get off the beaten track a little.

The walk passes the 13th-century St. Aldhelm’s chapel and has excellent views of the carved-out bay of Chapman’s pool. Since the path is so close to the edge, it also gives you dramatic views of the beaches below framed by stacks of crumbling rock.

Where to start the walk? — Start the St Aldhelm’s walk from the car park just west of Worth Matravers.

Details — From the car park head south across the fields and bend west to the chapel. There is then a short steep 200ft descent and ascent after which the path follows the cliffs and crosses another field before returning to the car park. This Jurassic Coast walk takes around 1 hour and 30 minutes. Visit the official South West Coast Path website for map and instructions.

3 – LULWORTH COVE TO DURDLE DOOR

Difficulty – Easy | Distance – 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) | Time – 30 minutes | Our Tip – This walk can get very busy, try to be there early or late to avoid the crowds.


One of the many fun facts about Great Britain is that we drink around 60 billion cups of tea a year. If you’ve spent too much time in quaint, cosy tea rooms and only have time for one walk, this is the one.

Over the course of an easy one-hour stroll you’ll pass dramatic towering white cliffs; the iconic stone arches of Durdle Door and arcs of sweeping golden sand. It rightly deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful stretches of coastline in the country.

From high above the sea, cows graze in lush green meadows – a dining room in an enviable location. Secret beaches appear tucked into coves and the waves of vertical cliffs extend into the distance. There is nowhere else quite like it.

Where to start the walk? — Start at Lulworth Cove Car Park.

Details — Start by exploring the folded limestone rocks of Stair Hole. Then head over the cliffs to photograph the arch at Durdle Door, one of England’s most iconic landmarks. From here you can stroll the sands of Man O’War beach or head even higher over the mighty crags of Bats Head. It’s a great few hours. Detailed information and maps are on our Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door walk guide.

4 – BOWLEAZE COVE TO SMUGGLERS INN

Difficulty – Easy-Medium | Distance – 5.8 kilometres (3.6 miles) | Time – 2 hours | Our Tip – Don’t drink so much in the pub you can’t focus on the views when heading back.


Like most of our favourite hikes in the Cotswolds, this walk includes a pub lunch in the middle.

Rising over cliffs and down to beaches, the path undulates through a very fine section of the Jurassic Coast path between Bowleaze Cove and Osmington Mills.

Nestled beautifully between two cliffs in the tiny village of Osmington Mills, The Smugglers Inn is packed with character and feels miles from anywhere. Recharge here with a locally brewed pint and traditional English pub food mid-way through the way.

Where to start the walk? — Begin the walk at the perfectly named Lookout Café just above Bowleaze Cove.

Details — Follow the southwest coastal path for 2.7 miles to Osmington Mills. The walk takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes (one way) and return is via the same route – map and instructions.

5 – WEST BAY TO HIVE BEACH CAFE

Difficulty – Medium | Distance – 8.6 kilometres (5.3 miles) | Time – 2.5 hours | Our Tip – Make sure you take the time to walk on the beach under the cliffs.


The cliffs of West Bay came as an unexpected surprise to us. The faces of the cliffs look like ripples on a lake and, being sandstone rather than limestone, their golden colour gleams in the early morning or late afternoon light.

This walk begins at West Bay, and heads across a golf course and fields before passing through Burton Bradstock. The hike finishes by dropping into the charming Hive Beach Cafe where you can recharge on local fish before heading back along the cliffs to West Bay.

Where to start the walk? — Park at the East Bay car park in West Bay (location: DT6 4EW).

Details — This circular Jurassic Coast walk is 5 miles, and takes about 2 hours. Most of it is across undulating hills but there are a couple of short, but quite steep ascents, which require a bit of puff. See the official South West Coast Path website for map and instructions.

6 – BRANSCOMBE TO BEER

Difficulty – Medium | Distance – 7 kilometres (4.35 miles) | Time – 3 hours | Our Tip – Make sure to grab a drink and snack on the beach at Beer.


This scenic day hike near the western end of the Jurassic Coast in Devon, ticks three boxes. First, it its a genuine circular walk. In one direction, called Hooken Undercliff, it skirts the base of the cliffs allowing you to look up at the remarkably shaped white wall of rock from below. While in the other direction, it hugs the cliff edge providing wonderful views over the sea and rolling hills.

Secondly, it passes through an area of Special Scientific Interest including the remains of WWII radar station, a 1920’s steam-powered winding wheel, and an Iron Age Forge.

Finally, it visits the intriguing village of Beer. Its gentle shingle beach set under high white cliffs, complete with stripped sun chairs and colourful huts, evokes a throwback to Victorian seaside outings. Cafes serve fresh fish on the beach and the Anchor Inn pours pints above it.

The entire area is part of the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and there’s plenty to explore nearby. Read more in our guide to Exeter and East Devon.

Where to start the walk? — You can begin the walk in either Beer or Branscombe. At Beer, park at Beer Head (location: EX12 3AQ) which is £4 all day. At Branscombe, park at the Branscombe Beach Car Park (location: EX12 3DP) which is £1 per hour.

Details — The path is well maintained but uneven and involves a couple of steep sections. You’ll need a good level of fitness, but the gorgeous coastal views make it all worthwhile. Map of Beer to Branscombe walk.

7 – GOLDEN CAP

Difficulty – Medium-Hard | Distance – 7.2 kilometres (4.5 miles) round trip; 3.8 kilometres (2.4 miles) there and back | Time – 3 hours | Our Tip – If it has rained, wear walking boots and be particularly careful coming down.


If like us, you have to get to the top of something, then this Jurassic Coast walk is for you.

Golden Cap is the highest cliff on the south coast standing at 191 metres (627 feet). While it’s not the adrenaline hit induced by some of our favourite scrambles in the Lake District, it still towers above the surrounding countryside providing stunning views.

Sea cliffs disappear off in each direction backed by a patchwork quilt of green fields. The view eastwards towards Thorncombe Beacon towering over the golden shingle beach used to be particularly lovely, but in 2021 a large landslide carved a massive gash in the cliffs.

Where to start the walk? — The path up Golden Cap begins at the car park by the sea in Seatown (location: DT6 6JU).

Details — It’s just over 1 mile from the car park rising to the summit but the steep path will take you about 40 minutes. At the top you have a choice to head back the way you came or complete a loop passing through Stanton St. Gabriel and Langdon Lane.

Use the information board in the car park or follow these Golden Cap map and instructions.

MAP | JURASSIC COAST WALKS

The Jurassic Coast walks we have selected for this guide are spread across a fairly large area. We’ve shown all our walks on the below map to help you get your bearings.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  


BEST TIME TO DO THESE JURASSIC COASTAL WALKS

The best time to undertake these Jurassic Coast walks is from May to early July. Throughout this period, the days are long and generally dry, the flowers are out and the school holidays have not yet begun. It’s the perfect time to enjoy Dorset’s beautiful coastal scenery. September and October are also good options, however, the temperatures could be starting to drop.

The weather is often best from mid-July to the end of August, however, the area is extremely busy over this time. Book your accommodation well in advance and try to set off on the walks early to beat the crowds.

Winter months can be cold and wet, but the scenery is no less beautiful. Wait for a window of sunny weather and book last minute to secure a sojourn to the Jurassic Coast while it’s bathed in soft winter light.

TIPS FOR OUR JURASSIC COAST WALKS

1 –The paths are generally clear and easy to follow on each of these walks, but allow a bit longer to explore and soak up the views.

2 – On dry days most of these walks can easily be done in trainers or comfortable shoes, but after a few days of rain the trails can get muddy. We’d suggest walking boots if this is the case, or at least shoes you don’t mind getting wet.

4 – Take a camera (because it’s beautiful) and swimming trunks for a (refreshing!) swim amongst beautiful scenery.

– Some of these walks can get very busy, particularly in the summer holidays, so start early where possible to try and beat the crowds.

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