Where Keats wrote poetry, Rupert Brooke lost his love, and Bertrand Russell caused an uproar skinny dipping with his lovers
Lulworth Cove is the idyllic bay, a near perfect circle, backed by white chalk cliffs and boasting a sandy beach fringing clear blue water. Add a few olive trees and it could almost be a Mediterranean hideaway.
Travel along the cliffs in either direction and you will come across the beginnings of another Lulworth at Stair Hole, the impressive arch at Durdle Door and broad Worbarrow Bay with its jagged line of Mupe Rocks protruding from the sea.
Portland and Purbeck limestone
The rocks hold the secret to the perfect form of Lulworth Cove. The hard Portland and Purbeck limestone nearest the sea form a tough, resistant barrier through which a river carved a narrow valley when the sea level was lower. As the sea rose, water flooded in and began hollowing out the soft clays and sands behind the tough outer rocks.
The chalk cliffs backing the bay are fairly resistant too, but the weaker clays and sands have now been fully hollowed out by small streams and the sea creating the beautiful cove we see today.
Lulworth Cove was made famous in Thomas Hardy’s novel Far From the Madding Crowd (1874) as the place that Sergeant Troy swam out from and disappeared:
“Troy came to a small basin of sea enclosed by the cliffs. He undressed and plunged in. Inside the cove the water was uninteresting to a swimmer, being smooth as a pond, and to get a little of the ocean swell, Troy presently swam between the two projecting spurs of rock which formed the pillars of Hercules to this miniature Mediterranean.”