Travel is relative. We all want to visit the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, or go shipwreck spotting along Namibia’s desolate skeleton coast, but the truth is – unless you’re extremely lucky – your chances of doing these things every couple of months is slim to none. This is why committed travellers should not turn their nose up at an exploratory jaunt within their own national boundaries. Those that do run the risk of missing out on one of the world’s true natural wonders: Dorset’s stunning Jurassic Coast.
Located only three hours from London, the Jurassic Coast is a stunning stretch of rugged cliffs and charming coves covering 96 miles of coastline and 180 million years of geological history. The name Jurassic Coast is actually rather misleading; just as the film Jurassic Park featured dinosaurs from all three periods of the Mesozoic Era, this famous portion of coastline is home to rocks and fossils from the Triassic and Cretaceous periods as well as the Jurassic.
But the appeal of the Jurassic Coast extends far beyond the geological and scientific. The stunning rock formations and majestic stretches of beach give the region a universal lure that can be appreciated by people of any age or background.
The most famous of these formations is the superlative Durdle Door. Reminiscent of something out of Avatar, and with a name that conjures up the Tolkienesque landscapes of Middle Earth, Durdle Door is a magnificent rock arch formed from millions of years of sea erosion on the soft limestone of the coast.
What remains is a 200ft rock formation, arcing up out of the English Channel and providing visitors with a stunning natural wonder which is the rival of any in the world.
Just beyond Durdle Door is another one of the Jurassic Coast’s treasures. Viewed from above, Lulworth Cove resembles an enormous crater, presumably formed as a result of a devastating meeting between the surface of the earth and a monstrous meteorite. In truth, the formation of Lulworth Cove was rather less catastrophic – but with no less dramatic results.
Created over hundreds of thousands of years of water erosion on the soft clay, Lulworth Cove now attracts over half a million visitors each year, each one eager to sample the breath-taking delights of this unique attraction.
Visitors in search of a glimpse back in time should make the half mile trip along the coast from Lulworth Cove to Stair Hole. This semi-formed cove resembles what Lulworth Cove would have looked like in the days of its infancy, but is a beautiful attraction in its own right thanks to its folded rock strata and numerous caves.
These three jewels in the Jurassic Coast’s heavily-laden crown help to make the region one of the UK’s premier tourist spots. Before you jet off on your next adventure to a far-flung corner of the globe, don’t forget to check out the gems right under your nose.
John Burns is Editor at My Holiday Caravan.