South West Coast Path: Exmouth to Poole
With its 250-million-year-old red cliffs, iconic rock formations and nature-rich freshwater lagoon, the Jurassic Coast boasts some of the South West Coast Path’s most diverse walking. Climb to the highest point on England’s south coast at Golden Cap, hunt for fossils in the quaint village of Charmouth and gaze out over Purbeck’s captivating white chalk stacks. Discover the true beauty of East Devon and Dorset on this epic walk through time.
Take on 95 miles of the South West Coast Path with an unforgettable nine-day trip to the world-famous Jurassic Coast. As England’s first UNESCO designated natural World Heritage Site, you’ll soon discover why this stretch of coast attracts visitors from far and wide.
Starting in the historic seaside town of Exmouth – western gateway to the Jurassic Coast – walk through 185 million years of the Earth’s history. Explore the fascinating Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, that make up the time when dinosaurs and giant reptiles walked the Earth. Get to know the many charming towns and villages on the way, that are ready to refuel weary walkers with award-winning food, unique local ales and a restful night’s sleep.
Discover the magnificent Undercliffs National Nature Reserve – the closest thing to a tropical rainforest in England. Search for your very own fossils at world-famous sites like Lyme Regis and Charmouth, where you might find your very own prehistoric souvenir. Breath in the fresh sea air as you climb to the highest point on the south coast at Golden Cap and walk along the golden cliffs of West Bay and gaze upon iconic rock formations like the arch of Durdle Door.
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Geology / Nature / Coastal
By Water / Historic Earth / Birdwatching
South West Coast Path: Exmouth to Poole
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This undeveloped stretch of coast provides a mixture of easy, high open walking and some fairly strenuous climbs up and down steep slopes and steps to reach beautiful coves. The daily distances vary considerably, and some involve several hundred metres of ascent and descent, so don’t underestimate the time/effort required.
Day 1 - Exmouth to Sidmouth
Day 2 - Sidmouth to Seaton
Day 3 - Seaton to Seatown
Day 4 - Seatown to Abbotsbury
Day 5 - Abbotsbury to Ferrybridge
Day 6 - Isle of Portland
Day 7 - Ferrybridge to Lulworth Cove
Day 8 - Lulworth Cove to Worth Matravers
Day 9 - Worth Matravers to Poole
There are a range of comfortable pubs, inns, hotels and hostels to lay your head near the South West Coast Path for a well-earned rest, from large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B’s, as well as self-catering options and campsites. There’s ample choice in the many towns en route with smaller village gems to discover along the way.
Air / Rail
Fly to Exeter or to Bristol then train to Exeter. From there you can get bus and rail services (the Avocet line) to Exmouth to start your trip. For timetable information, visit Traveline or phone 0114 22 11 282. You can also fly to Bournemouth airport and go by bus to Shell Bay ferry offices, Studland (change at Bournemouth Lansdowne).
From Studland, either catch a bus into Bournemouth and then a train or plane home from there, or a bus into Swanage and catch a steam train to Norden followed by a bus to the main line train station at Wareham.
If you want to shorten this walk the Jurassic Coaster and other bus services run parallel to sections of the coast calling at Exmouth, Sidmouth, Beer, Lyme Regis, Seaton, Charmouth, Bridport, Abbotsbury, Weymouth, Wool, Wareham and Poole. You can download the Jurassic Coaster travel app here to access more information about times and routes.
The Jurassic Coast is constantly eroding. This erosion has created the beautiful coastline that we see today, but it’s important to remember that rock falls and landslides are part of this process, and can happen at any time.
Please use common sense and caution:
- Always stay away from the cliffs (top and bottom) – and keep your dogs on a lead near the edge
- Beware of mud flows which may extend across the beaches
- Never ignore a warning sign – they are there for your safety
- Check tide times if walking across beaches
- If looking for fossils, follow the Fossil Collecting Code of Conduct
Find out more here: www.jurassiccoast.org/enjoysafely
MILITARY RANGES DAY 8 Guidance
The path across the Lulworth Ranges is one of the highlights of the Jurassic Coast, but can only be used when the range is not in use. To avoid missing out on this it is recommended you plan your walk to get here when the ranges are open – most weekends and holidays. Visit https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walk-coast-path/trip-planning/military-training-areas for more details. As live ammunition is used, you must not stray off the paths which are clearly marked by yellow posts, and do not pick up any metal objects lying on the ground.
If firing is taking place, red flags are flown and the gates are locked. The alternatives are either a 13 mile detour around the ranges (partly on roads) or a more attractive option is to catch a bus (see Traveline) from West Lulworth to Corfe Castle and then walk along the ridge (which has great views) to the road near Great Wood and then descend down to re-join the Coast Path at Kimmeridge. Details of the Corfe Castle to Kimmeridge walk can be found here https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walksdb/584/
DIVERSIONS DAY 3 SEATON TO SEATOWN – Path diversion at Charmouth due to landslip
Movement of the coastal landslip to the east of Charmouth leading up to Stonebarrow Hill has led to the loss of a short section of the Coast Path. There is an official diversion in place, which is around 1.5 miles. For more information visit https://www.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walk-coast-path/trip-planning/route-changes/17/
Food & Drink
With their mild climates and fertile soil, East Devon and Dorset are home to some of the best local produce. Pubs, cafes and restaurants alike serve up top quality dishes that will make your trip truly memorable. Taste some of the freshest seafood around and sip ales and local ciders from one of the many welcoming and characterful pubs. Find out more here www.dorsetfoodanddrink.org
Maps, Guidebooks and Merchandise
The official guidebook and map for the Trail are available from the National Trails Shop along with a wide range of gifts and other merchandise.
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