Paddle Guide - Lulworth Cove & Durdle Door, Dorset

Paddling on a SUP at Durdle Door

Paddle Guide -  Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door, Dorset

Probably one of the most famous stretches along the Jurassic Coast is the area around Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door located in the village of West Lulworth in Dorset. Every year thousands of people visit the beaches in Dorset to see the formations which formed through the last ice age. Most people will walk over the hill between the two famous landmarks but paddling on a SUP or kayak from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door gives you a completely different perspective of the coastline that majority of people will never see.

There aren’t many options for free parking in the village of West Lulworth and what is available is quite a walk down to Lulworth Cove so it is best to park in the main car park which is located at BH20 5RQ. On busy summer days the car park will get fill up very quickly so to avoid having to park in the overflow car park which is a longer walk from the beach it is best to arrive early. The walk down to the beach is about 10 minutes so if you are able to carry your paddleboard or kayak this distance we would recommend pumping them up at the car so that you do not have to walk your paddleboard bag and pump etc back to store in your car during your paddle. During peak season tor a full day the car park costs £20.00, there was an option for up to 4 hours for £10.00 but we did not want to rush back. There are a number of cafes and shops & toilets as you walk down to Lulworth Cove but there are no facilities at the beach at Durdle door so make sure you pack enough supplies for the duration of your paddle.

The distance of the paddle from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door itself is 2.5km each way but due to its exposed nature we would only recommend it to experienced and confident paddlers when wind conditions are favourable. If you are not a confident paddleboarder or kayaker then paddling around Lulworth Cove itself is a really great paddle. Due to the shape of the cove it you can normally find a part of the cove which is sheltered from the wind and an easy paddle for beginners and less confident paddlers. The entrance to the cove is rocky and there can be a bit of swell so avoid this area if you are sticking to Lulworth Cove.


If you are heading to Durdle Door exit the cove and turn right. First up you will come to Stair Hole. Stair hole is a small cove located a small distance west of Lulworth cove and the layers of rock and folded strata is a great example of how continental shifting has caused the rock to shift creating the Lulworth crumple along with years of coastal erosion creating caves, arches and blowholes in the rock.

If the tide is right then you can paddle into stair hole. At low tide the water within Stair Hole will be shallow so watch your fins on the rocks and be aware of lose rocks. After stair hole continue paddling along the coast keeping the cliffs on your right. You will reach the edge of a cove which is St Oswolds bay. This bay is not as easy to access on foot as some of the other bays on the Lulworth Estate so is normally relatively quiet. You can choose to follow the coast around the bay to Man O war bay or if the conditions allow keep paddling in a straight line to the next headland. As you come around the headland you will see the famous arch of Durdle Door. You can paddle through the door itself and explore the beach surrounding the Door. If you want to extend the paddling journey further you can keep going along the coast towards the next headland which is called Bat’s Head; you will notice the further along the beach you paddle from Durdle Door the quieter it gets.

We visited Durdle Door on our paddleboards on a sunny day in September and the beach itself was very busy so we decided to head back around the headland to Man O War bay for lunch and a swim. The bay is normally quite sheltered and the gradient of the beach is more gentle than the beach at Durdle Door so it is a lovely spot for a swim and rest before heading back to Lulworth. Again, be weary of any changing conditions before beginning the journey back along the coast to Lulworth as you do not want to get caught out by the wind picking up en-route. When you get back to Lulworth Cove there are a couple café’s right on the beach to sit and enjoy the landscape and take a well earned rest! The Boat shed café and The Cove kiosk are by the cove as well as various other kiosks, pubs and restaurants on the path back up to the main visitor centre and car park.


Before you go:

  • Plan Ahead: Make sure you check the weather in advance and are confident with the conditions as the route can be quite exposed
  • Stay away from the cliffs: There have been several rock slides along the section of the jurrasic coast between Lulworth Cove and Bat’s head this winter so if you are taking your paddleboard or kayak anywhere along this stretch of coast stay away from the base of the cliffs and be extra vigilant of rock slides after rainfall.
  • Be aware of other water users: The area between Lulworth Cove and Weymouth gets busy in the summer months with charter boats, leisure boats and jet skis with most of them heading towards Durdle Door. They should be slowing down as they approach Durdle Door but make sure you are visible and prepared for the wake they will produce.


paddling from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Doors
Written by Kristy Hobart

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published