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Lulworth Cove, Dorset

This is a small natural harbour that was created thousands of years ago when the sea broke through a narrow band of limestone rock and eroded the softer clays behind it, before being restricted by harder chalk rocks that now form a cliff at the back of the Cove. This is therefore a microcosm of the geology of much of southern England, with the broad swathes of Jurassic limestone (such as the Cotswolds) and Cretaceous chalk (such as Salisbury Plain), separated by broad clay vales, being reduced to a compass of a few hundred metres at this point.

Next door to Lulworth Cove is Stair Hole, which is a more recent example of erosion of the limestone. Eventually, Stair Hole and Lulworth Cove will join together. Stair Hole also shows evidence of ancient folding of the limestone in a dramatic “zigzag” of the strata at the back of the Hole. This is known as the “Lulworth Crumple”.

Lulworth Cove is a popular stopping-off point for sailors of small boats as they proceed up the Channel coast, as it offers a safe and sheltered anchorage.

Under the cliffs just to the west of Lulworth Cove a “fossil forest” can be seen. These are the fossilised remains of ancient tree stumps that were growing some 150 million years ago.

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