Summer holiday been and gone in the blink of an eye? If you’re left to pick up the pieces amidst the office tumble weed, a day hike to the Jurassic Coast offers sun, sea and an adrenalin-rush like no other. With a landscape dating back to the days of the dinosaurs, spectacular sea views and a helter-skelter ride of petrifying peaks and knee-trembling descents, this trip could provide just the thrills you’re seeking.
Setting off on our 13-mile trek from Weymouth, it’s just us, the seagulls and the silent sails of the paragliders until sudden screams halt us in our tracks, With signs warning of coastal erosion, we fear the worst.
Turning the bend, we discover a pack of teenage girls suspended from high ropes in an adventure playground. With relieved smiles, we descend into Smugglers Cove where the eponymous Inn provides the perfect pit-stop for a shandy. Refreshed, we set off this time in the company of basking sea-kayakers enjoying their own private beach against an emerald shoreline.
From such gentle beginnings, the walk quickly becomes a gruelling endurance test as Machu-Pichu style peaks suddenly rear up on the horizon. Making the Seven Sisters appear like a walk in the park, the ascents require steely determination and great gulps of sea air.
Having clambered to the summit, the razor-sharp descents are every bit as daunting. Gingerly inching down, my legs burn with the effort of avoiding toppling head-first down the slope. I quickly realise why others have opted to make the descent on their derriere. After hours of thigh-clenching mincing, I make it to level ground. After high-fiving my colleague, I’m horrified to see an identical vertiginous height towering above me in what is to become a recurrent theme along this stretch of coastline.
Panting and puffing in a sea of sweat, the helter skelter ride finally comes to an end as we spot Durdle Door jutting out into the sea like the gateway to the lost city of Atlanta. After a triumphant ice cream and a quick stroll along the golden sands of the Man O War beach, we carry on to our final destination.
Dragging our aching feet, we stagger through another couple of moderate climbs before descending into the welcome arms of Lulworth Cove half an hour later.
Arriving to a fanfare of Morris dancers, we encounter a mini Stratford-Upon-Sea crammed with thatched-roofs, chintzy tea rooms and fudge-stacked souvenir shops.
Trooping into the Lulworth Cove Inn for a well-deserved late lunch, we join the teeming throngs of day-trippers, kayakers and walkers. (As food options around the Cove are limited, expect lengthy queues.) After devouring a tuna steak, I give my aching feet a refreshing dip in the Cove’s crystals waters – yes, still bracing even in July.
Feeling like a salty, old sea dog, I reflect on my amazing day hike to the Jurassic Coast -one of England’s most stunning coastlines. Offering thrill and spills galore, the walk provides the perfect antidote to the post-summer-holiday blues and a great escape from the office tumbleweed.
What’s your favourite coastal walk? Please let us know.