Along the West Dorset Heritage Coastline there are a variety of beaches, where you can bathe, fish, dive, sail, walk – or simply admire the stunning views. There are two harbours near to Bridport which are West Bay and Lyme Regis.
West Bay Beach
Burton Bradstock Beach
West Bexington Beach
Durdle Door Beach, Lulworth
West Bay has two beaches. East Beach consists of a very fine shingle ridged beach with sand at the water’s edge and extends as far as the eye can see along the Chesil Beach to Portland Bill. West Beach consists of a fine, smooth, pebbly beach, with shingle and sand at the water’s edge. West Beach is ideal for younger children due to a protective cove being formed between the harbour’s Jurassic Pier and the esplanade’s rock armour groynes.
Burton Bradstock DT6 4RF
Ideal for families, Burton Bradstock has ample parking and is easily accessible from Bridport. Wonderful cliff top walks can be taken from both ends of the beach. The very popular Hive Beach Cafe is right on the beach and has a large outdoor eating area meaning that parents can keep an eye on exploring children.
Cogden Beach DT6 4RL
Nobody in their right mind would install a pay and display meter in the middle of nowhere. Unless, of course, lots of people want to park there. That pretty much sums up Cogden. On the face of it, it’s a pay and display meter in a fairly small pull-in in the middle of nowhere to the East of Burton Bradstock, just off the B3157. But don’t be fooled. It’s true there’s nothing there. Nothing in the sense of human habitation, cafés, public toilets or shops. But it is probably for all the things that aren’t there that people like to visit! What’s more, the limited size of the car park puts a natural brake on the number of people who can get there at any one time by car. What Cogden has, is a pleasant and fairly short walk down to the Chesil Beach across land owned by the National Trust. Please note: this beautiful nothing in the middle of nowhere is a big draw to dog owners, so if you don’t like dogs you may not like Cogdon. However, if you have a dog it is perfect for a long walk.
Eype Beach DT6 6AL
Eype has been described as one of West Dorset’s most beautiful villages, a bold claim in a county that is full of very beautiful villages! However, when you walk around viewing its pretty thatched cottages and delightful country gardens, you can soon understand why such a statement was made. Eype means “steep place” and its buildings can be traced back to the late eighteenth or early nineteenth centuries. Situated westwards along the coast from Bridport, Eype also boasts a stunningly attractive beach at Eype’s Mouth Beach. This beautiful sand and gravel beach is backed by magnificent cliffs the most notable of which is the Golden Cap, the highest cliff on the south coast at 191m above sea level.
Seatown DT6 6JU
A pebbly beach with views of Golden Cap, the south coast’s loftiest cliff, and good fossil-hunting potential. Lunch at the Anchor Inn, Seatown, Chideock, DT6 6JU, 01297 489215, www.theanchorinnseatown.co.uk – a chocolate- box pub right on the beach under Golden Cap. Ideal for children who want to explore under the watchful eyes of their parents – it has a large outdoor dining area.
Charmouth DT6 6LL
Charmouth beach is one of the best places along the 152-mile Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site to find fossils. Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre organises guided walks led by experts throughout the year. The walks help bring to life the area’s185 million years of geological history. Located to the East of Lyme Regis. Follow the signs for Charmouth from the A35. www.charmouth.com
There are four main beaches in Lyme Regis:
The beautiful and unspoilt village of Beer is well worth a visit. There is an excellent selection of local shops in Beer (village store, newsagents, Post Office, off-licence, bakery, deli, several eateries, 3 local inns, art galleries, antique shops) and the beautiful horseshoe shaped beach – a real sun-trap with clean waters, rock pools at low tide and beach cafes. See the local fishermen bring in their catch or hire a boat. Limited parking on street. Large car park in village centre.
A long shingle beach shelving steeply, popular with walkers West Bexington Beach offers far reaching view from east to west. The beach is backed by the West Bexington nature reserve operated by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. Find the beach by taking the turning opposite the Bull Inn in the village of Swyre (DT2 9BZ).
Chesil Beach DT3 4LA
An 18 mile shingle spit reaching from Portland Bill to Abbotsbury, wonderful for walking and bird watching, and a popular centre for windsurfing.www.chesilbeach.org Interestingly, the stones on this beach are larger to the east than to the west.
Portland Harbour DT5 1SA
This is the place for watersports: scuba diving, kite surfing, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing. It will also become home to the London 2012 Olympic sailing events, hosted by the Weymouth & Portland National Sailing Academy, which also offers sailing lessons for all levels of ability. Follow the A354 from Weymouth to Portland. As you approach Portland, follow ‘Sailing Academy’ signs. www.wpnsa.org.uk.
Weymouth DT4 8ED
Weymouth’s status as a seaside resort was established over 200 years ago when King George III visited to ‘take the waters’. However, a fact that is likely to be of more interest to the kids is that Weymouth’s sand is renowned for being particularly suited to sand sculpture and, more importantly, sandcastle building. Follow the A354 from Dorchester. Beach and car parks are well signposted. www.visitweymouth.co.uk.
Osmington Mills DT3 6HB
A hidden gem previously used by pirates, with its own waterfall and charming pebbled cove with beautiful views towards Portland. The food and drink at the nearby Smuggler’s Inn is good. The Landscape painter John Constable and his wife Maria spent their honeymoon at Osmington in 1816. Constable painted a seascape during his stay, entitled ‘Osmington Shore, near Weymouth’, which now hangs in the Louvre in Paris.
Dogs on Beaches.