If you’ve got a new passport, you’ll notice many of the blank pages have sketches of things dotted around the UK. Under “Geology”, you’ll find a drawing of a rock arch jutting out into the sea. That’s Durdle Door, one of Dorset’s most popular tourist attractions. In the summer, thousands and thousands of people come for a glance of this picturesque landmark of the Jurassic Coast.
The arch is a rock formation, composed entirely of limestone. It was formed because some parts of the rock were weaker than others, and the weaker bits were eroded by the waves much faster.
This formed an arch. However, there’s lots of erosion around. Recently, there was a huge landslip just a few hundred metres away from the door, and UNESCO teams watch out for the arch and try to make sure it’s not badly affected. The door is a part of the South West Coast Path, which begins in the nearby town of Poole and ends in Minehead, Somerset. The path goes along the coast of Devon and Cornwall as well, and is over 600 miles long. However, the rapid erosion in the area often means that part of the path is destroyed, and that’s what happened in the recent landslip.
As well as the beautiful Door, there’s many things to see in the area. The Door is surrounded by beautiful clear blue water, so walk just across the small headland and you can sunbathe in Man O’War bay. If you like castles and battles, the Lulworth Estate (which Durdle Door is a part of) has a reconstructed 17th century castle and a military firing range, which is still used by the army today to practice tank manoeuvres. If you like geography, then Kimmeridge beach is famous for its fossil hunting. There are hundreds of great locations to stop and take a photograph, and enjoy the countryside.
The door is also steeped in local history and popular culture. As well as some music videos being filmed there, it is also a film location, and featured in Nanny McPhee. Thomas Hardy was a local, and his friend Arthur Moule wrote a beautiful poem about their home, Dorset. He describes the way the sea flows and the waves “ripple through the rocks at Durdle Door”.
If you have a car, then Durdle Door is very accessible. You can get the chain ferry from Poole, and it’s a short and scenic drive along the coast. Likewise, you can drive from Dorchester, the county town of Dorset. If you don’t have a car, then there are buses from the towns of Weymouth, Swanage, Wareham and Wool, but these are a bit limited and very infrequent. They stop outside the Durdle Door holiday park, which is a caravan site. If you’re looking for a nice and affordable place to stay in Dorset, then staying at the holiday park could be just the ticket – you can walk to the Door every day if you wanted!
Besides, you’ll really impress your geography teachers with all your Durdle Door experience. It’s 150 million years old!
Image: Alice Barnes-Brown