A visit to Lulworth Cove, Dorset

Summer is fast coming to an end. July is almost over, the nights are very obviously drawing in and we are edging ever close to the cold, wet and generally grimmer autumn, and worse, winter months! But still, it’s not all bad. The past couple of weekends have given us some great weather – temperatures into the mid-20s and beyond and sunshine that has lasted for most of the day.

And what better way to enjoy the sunshine than on a bike?

Stood on top of Beachy Head in East Sussex.

Stood on top of Beachy Head in East Sussex.

Last week, I made my second visit to Beachy Head, just a stone’s throw from Eastbourne in East Sussex. At around 110 miles each way, it was a long day out, but great weather and great scenery made it very worthwhile. And a fascinating fact about Beachy Head is that the area boasts the highest chalk sea cliffs in all of Britain. Well I never!

Seriously though, on a sunny day, what a great place Beachy Head is. There’s not much more than cliffs to see but plenty of walking is possible and there’s even places to stop and rehydrate. Parking is priced at £1.00 an hour (reasonable, I thought) but the charge appears to apply to motorcyclists as well. Parking charges for motorcycles, regardless of where you are, really irritate me! Aside from taking little or no space in a car park (perhaps a third of the space of a car), how do you display a parking ticket on a motorcycle without it being stolen or blowing away? I ended up leaving the ticket in a mobile phone holder with my registration scrawled over it.

Waking up this morning – Saturday – I saw that the weather was again going to be brilliant and I wanted to get back out and enjoy the sunshine. I was toying with the idea of going to the Isle of Wight. Apart from not having been before, I am attracted to the coast when on the bike, and there’s plenty of it there. It was the extortionate price of a return ferry crossing with Wightlink that put me off. As with the car park comments above, how can a ferry company justify £36.00 for a return crossing that takes a mere 40 minutes in each direction, with only a motorcycle?

For the sake of timing, the route was mostly motorways before joining the slightly more exciting A31.

For the sake of timing, the route was mostly motorways before joining the slightly more exciting A31.

Lying in bed at 6.00am, I was Googling the ‘best beaches in Britain’. I had no desire to set foot in the sea but I love to look at it and take some pictures at the same time. The accessible beaches (as in those closer to home) were few in number so I decided on Lulworth Cove. From the pictures available online, it looked good, and it’s world heritage status gave it some appeal too. At around 95 miles each way, it was also more than do-able.

It was around 8.30am that I hit the road, taking the A33 to Basingstoke, joining the M3, later the M27 and finally the A31. Motorways, whilst quick, are tedious. With lots of south-coast bound traffic and the odd accident on the motorway too, there were several long stretches of traffic, requiring a bit of filtering from time to time. But I arrived in Lulworth in good time after two and a bit hours on the road with a McDonald’s breakfast stop at around the half way point.

The free motorcycle parking at Lulworth Cove. Just go careful on the gravel!

The free motorcycle parking at Lulworth Cove. Just go careful on the gravel!

The Lulworth Cove car park is reasonably priced, and, despite a whinge about charges for motorcycle parking above, here they can park for free! From here, however, it’s quite a walk (in terms of distance and hills) but it’s really worth it. The views on the way to the cove, and on arrival there, are spectacular.

The cove and surrounding areas were shrouded in fog when I arrived but that quickly lifted, revealing the chalk cliffs and clear waters below. And as it lifted, more and more people descended on the beaches – with their parasols, cool boxes and giant inflatables.

Enjoying the sunshine and the views from the top of the cliffs

Enjoying the sunshine and the views from the top of the cliffs

Exhausted from the walk, I found a quiet spot on the edge of one of the cliffs and sat for an hour or so, enjoying the views and catching my breath. I later took a closer look at each of the beaches, taking a few pictures, before ascending the half mile hill in the direction of the car park. From there, it was still a good mile or so back to the car park, though thankfully mostly downhill.

A view that you could never tire of

A view that you could never tire of

Back at the car park and dying of thirst, I was pleased to see a selection of shops, restaurants and shops (selling ghastly souvenirs) but I could at least grab a drink and rehydrate before hitting the road once more and heading home. As much as I love fish and chips when by the sea, and even though there was a fish and chip shop there, I was still rather full from my breakfast.

Lulworth Cove, like Beachy Head, is somewhere that I would love to get back to, and all the better if I can manage it in what is left of the summer. Who knows, I might even dig out my jelly shoes and dip my toes in the Channel.

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