South West Coast Path
The Dorset Coast Path forms part of the 630 mile South West Coast Path National Trail. Dramatic landscapes and seascapes are revealed with every twist and turn along this coastal walk.
The path provides access to all kinds of stories: an exceptional record of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Earth's history - the 'walk through time'; classic landforms straight out of geography text books - the Black Ven landslide complex, Chesil Beach, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove; stories of farming, both ancient and modern, of smuggling, quarrying, fishing and of war and fortification; and wildlife that is as rich, varied and specialised as anywhere in the country.
The path links together coastal hamlets, villages and towns and simply gives people the opportunity to access all that is special about the Dorset coast.
Landscape / terrain
The coast path follows cliff top, lagoon, beach and urban environments. There are some very steep ascents and descents in parts of Purbeck, Portland and West Dorset. Steps are installed on most of the steeper sections. The path is currently accessed through a mixture of self closing gates, kiss-gates and stiles.
Finding your way
The South West Coast Path is way marked by the acorn symbol - the symbol for National Trails .
Please note the Lulworth Ranges (Ministry of Defence) are only open during school holidays and at weekends.
Sections of the Dorset Coast Path are prone to periodic closures following landslips. For up to date information on closures visit the South West Coast Path website. (opens in a new window)
Coast Path closure between Burton Freshwater and Burton Hive
The Coast Path between Burton Freshwater and Burton Hive Beach has now been re-opened (September 2013) and includes a minor diversion (pdf, 1Mb) (opens in a new window).
Coast Path closure West Weares, Portland
There are two Coast Path closures (January2013) between Blacknor and Priory Corner (pdf, 957kb) (opens in a new window). The closure is needed because of cliff movement and the likelihood of danger to the public. This situation is being monitored but the path is likely to be closed for several months. Minor diversions are signed on the ground.
Path closure Castle Cove to Bincleaves, Weymouth
There is a path closure just west of Bincleaves open space (pdf, 768kb) (opens in a new window) (September 2013). The closure is needed because of a landslide and the likelihood of danger to the public. The Coast Path is unaffected.
Buses and Trains
The X51, X53 and X54 bus serves most of West Dorset and some of Purbeck. There are also various bus services between Weymouth and Portland Bill. Visit our bus pages for bus timetables, routes and bus stops.
Start point: Lyme Regis
Finish point: Poole Harbour
Total distance: 138 km / 86 miles
Map information: OS Explorer Map OL15
Time needed: 6 days
Districts covered: West Dorset, Weymouth & Portland and Purbeck
Trail Managed By: Dorset County Council
Dorset tide times
- Tide times in Dorset - Portland (opens in a new window)
- Tide times in Dorset - Bournemouth (opens in a new window)
Linking trails and walks
Places of interest
- Lyme Regis Museum (opens in a new window) and The Cobb
- Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre (opens in a new window)
- Chesil Beach
- St. Catherine's Chapel (opens in a new window) (Abbotsbury)
- Abbotsbury Swannery (opens in a new window) and Fleet lagoon
- Abbotsbury Sub-tropical Gardens (opens in a new window), Abbotsbury Abbey (ruins) and Tithe Barn
- Chesil Beach Visitor Centre (opens in a new window)
- Tout Quarry Sculpture Park (Portland)
- Portland Bird Observatory (opens in a new window) and Portland Bill Lighthouse
- RSPB reserves at Radipole, Lodmoor and Arne
- Durdle Door
- Lulworth Castle (opens in a new window)
- Flower's Barrow Iron Age Hill Fort
- Kimmeridge Bay Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and Centre (opens in a new window)
- Corfe Castle (opens in a new window)
- St. Aldhelm's Head (chapel)
- Swanage - Corfe Castle Steam Railway (opens in a new window)
- Old Harry Rocks