The beautiful Jurassic Coast stretches 95 miles along Britain’s south coast, between Swanage and Exmouth, and as a recently designated Natural World Heritage site it has plenty to offer visitors. Providing a geographical record of the Jurassic period, its beautiful pebble, shingle and sandy beaches are famously good places for hunting fossils. Boasting breath-taking cliff top views, pretty coves, excellent walking trails and sites of historical interest, the Jurassic Coast is a popular destination for dog-owning holidaymakers. Here are some ideas for ways to make the most of this glorious area with your canine companion.
The seaside and harbour town of Weymouth is ideally situated in the centre of the Jurassic Coast and as such is the perfect base from which to explore all the sites of interest. Weymouth’s own beach has a designated dog area towards the Pavilion and nearby, the famous 18 mile pebbly strip of Chesil Beach- a UNESCO World Heritage site- is a great place for long, breezy dog walks. Weymouth is also home to many dog-friendly pubs such as the Old Rooms Inn on Cove Road, overlooking the water, perfect for enjoying a drink after a long day of coastal exploration.
East of Weymouth lies a string of treasures to discover with your dog including beautiful Lulworth Cove where, over centuries, the currents have eroded the clay, sand and limestone at different speeds, creating its characteristic curve. The cove is a beautiful spot for a stroll and from here it is well worth the cliff top walk to Durdle Door- a naturally occurring limestone arch. Both of these areas welcome dogs and exemplify the diverse and dramatic scenery so distinctive to the Jurassic Coast.
Further east, Corfe Castle is a must-see if you’re travelling the Jurassic Coast. Explore the ruins of the keep and discover more than 1000 years of history, including siege, murder, feasting and fighting. Dogs are welcome on a short lead in the grounds and there is an array of wildlife walks surrounding the castle. After centuries of changing hands, it is now conserved by the National Trust who provide excellent information, including downloadable walking trails, on their website: www.nationaltrust.
While you’re there, be sure to explore Corfe Castle village itself, where Enid Blyton drew inspiration for her Famous Five stories; visit the local Ginger Pop Shop to pack stock up your picnic with ‘lashings of ginger beer.’
The charming seaside town of Swanage marks the eastern end of the Jurassic Coast. From here it’s a thirty minute walk along ‘The Victorian Trail’ up to Durlston Country Park- 280 acres encompassing coastal cliffs, wildlife-filled hedgerows and parkland. The park is totally dog-friendly with lots of walking trails taking in spectacular sea-views including the famous Dancing Ledge, rich woodland and historical sites including Durlston Castle. For more information visit: www.durlston.co.uk
The Swanage Steam Railway boasts the busiest steam train timetable of any preserved railway and is a great way to see the countryside around the Jurassic Coast. The railway welcomes dogs on all services except- unfortunately- the Santa Special! See www.swanagerailway.co.uk f
To the west of Weymouth, take a pleasant daytrip with your dog (on their lead) to Abbotsbury Sub Tropical Gardens, 20 gorgeous acres of rare plants and exotic flowers: www.abbotsbury-
Still more westerly lies Lyme Regis whose dramatic beaches are some of the best for fossil hunting. Dogs are allowed on Monmouth Beach, Cobb Gate and East Beach all year round. What’s more, the surrounding Dorset countryside provides excellent walks and views including the Golden Cap, the Jurassic Coast’s highest point.
To experience the tranquil side of the Jurassic Coast, visit Sidmouth, a pretty fishing village with beautiful beaches and surrounded by the matchless East Devon countryside- perfect for peaceful dog walks. Around nine miles west of Sidmouth is another dog-friendly beach at Budleigh Salterton and in between are a couple of attractions worth mentioning:
The Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary is a working farm where visitors (and their dogs) can meet the 500 donkeys cared for in the peaceful fields: www.
The 63 acres of Bicton Park Botanical Gardens include glasshouses, a nature trail and a maze. Dogs are welcome here on a lead: www.bictongardens.co.uk
At the very western end of the Jurassic coast is Exmouth where two miles of sandy beach are open to man’s best friend, not to mention the estuary of the river Exe, a haven for walkers and bird watchers.