There is something particularly endearing about England when the sun comes out. With layers of suncream, flip-flops shuffling, the population descends onto the nearest beach to bathe in hours of sunshine and temperatures that reach the mid-twenties – a rarity in our usually mild climate. This bank holiday weekend was no exception. These charming observations came to mind on a spontaneous day trip to Durdle Door, a hint of Greek paradise on the Dorset coastline. Up unusually early on a Sunday, we decided to make the most of the glorious morning and head somewhere that we have always wanted to visit.
An hour’s drive from the New Forest, Durdle Door is perched on the edge of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site with breathtaking views either side and delightful villages surrounding it. Arriving just after nine, we began to make our way down the rocky path in search of the famous limestone arch. Our idea of getting there early, however, wasn’t exactly unique; we were two amongst a throng of visitors marching down the cliff. Beach equipment in tow, children slipping on the rocks, everyone elated to get to the sea… the scene was the epitome of British summertime. Halfway down, we decided to break off from the crowds and perch on the side of the cliff to take in the views from above.
The blue of the sea before us was exactly the colour of the water visible from the plane when landing in Croatia a few summers ago, and the cove beaches on either side of the arch brought to mind visions of a nondescript Greek island. It was hard to believe that this kind of place exists in England. Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the country that we live in and it has only been in the past year or so that I have really come to appreciate England for what it is. Moments like this make me realise just how much beauty there is on our doorstep. Mini break over, we continued following the happy crowd down some steep steps towards the pretty pebble beaches below, forking off to the right of the arch. I struggled slightly on the rickety steps with my sliders; trainers would probably have been a much more sensible footwear option but that’s kind of the beauty of coming unprepared and finding things out for yourself.
Here, on the right, was the more popular side with beachgoers setting up camp on the pebbles, buckets and spades out, some slowly edging towards the water, and a joyful dog or two wagging their tail. Further out in the sea, swimmers were exploring the arch, some attempting to cliff jump from less-than-impressive heights, and a wooden boat adding a quaint holiday feel to the scene. We stretched out on the rocks and watched the world go by. With only a bottle of water between us, we came slightly unprepared in comparison to our neighbours but we planned on picking up lunch somewhere later anyway. Having the beach next door to explore and another location a short drive away, we were eager to continue our adventure.
On the other side of the arch, we found perfect lighting, with the cloudless sky almost blending in with the serene water before us. It would have been lovely to stay but with midday soon approaching, the heat was quickly becoming too much; here, there was no shade to hide from the now scorching sun. We snapped a few photos, took a quick water break and mentally prepared ourselves for the climb back up the steep steps and rocky cliff – unarguably, the least desirable aspect of a visit to the beach.
We somehow made it back to the car, delighted with our early morning escape. There is something special about getting up early on the weekend and driving somewhere spontaneously with no particular plan in mind. One of the reasons for starting this blog was to make moments like this happen more often but this was completely impromptu; maybe all that it takes is a change in mindset. Air-con on full, we waved goodbye to Durdle Door and drove away happily, feeling proud of ourselves for making it there early before the crowds turned to a few hundred. Next up was Lulworth Cove just further along the coast.
Have you been to Durdle Door before? How did you spend the bank holiday weekend?