Last Updated on June 23, 2021 by Fiona Maclean
Exploring the Dorset Jurassic Coast With Bridgestone Potenza
Written in conjunction with Bridgestone Potenza
I am a Londoner through and through, but as much as I love city life, I have been longing to escape to the countryside and go exploring again after a long winter in lockdown. Now that restrictions are easing and that I am double vaccinated, I am more than ready for an adventure! I was thrilled to be offered the opportunity to get away from the city to go on an exhilarating road trip with Bridgestone the well-known premium tyre company, to explore the Dorset Jurassic Coast. The closest part of the West Country to London, it’s a great place for a short break!
Returning to normality, as much as we all long to do so, can potentially provoke some anxieties. Naturally, since the pandemic, we all feel the need to question the safety and wellbeing of ourselves and our families and the situations we put ourselves in. It is not surprising that attitudes to travel since Covid are changing.
Many people are deciding not to risk travelling abroad this summer. There’s the complicated and ever-changing traffic light system, long quarantines and expensive Covid testing to consider, as well as the ongoing concerns about keeping well and virus free. It looks as if the UK Holiday Sector is in for a real boost.
Interestingly in a survey conducted by Bridgestone to celebrate the launch of the new premium ultra-high performance Bridgestone Potenza Sport tyre, 75% of respondents have said their attitude and interest in staycations has increased due to COVID-19 and 23% of transport has also changed, with most responses stating they would rather drive, over their previous favoured mode of transport which was by plane. Right now, I know I definitely feel more comfortable going on a staycation and travelling by car.
In fact, driving seems to be winning the popularity stakes with 66% of people interested in travelling just for the pure joy of driving.
Andy Mathias, Marketing Manager for Bridgestone North Europe Region said: “A driving escape is the perfect way to unlock a plethora of exciting and varied destinations that we are lucky to have in the UK, from stunning mountain tops to remote beaches. However, it is not just about the destination as the journey itself can make for an exhilarating escape.”
There are so many beautiful places to explore in the UK, and especially when the sun shines there is really no need to go abroad. I particularly love the West Country. I used to visit with my family when I was a child, and later again with my own children. So, I was really excited to set off on a road trip to revisit the Dorset Jurassic Coast.
I was driving a BMW 318d Saloon 2.0 SE, fitted with the new Bridgestone Potenza Sport tyre; a high-performance tyre that gives you great grip and control. We were staying in Studland near Swanage which is 95 miles from my London home, and when the roads are reasonably clear it takes less than 2.5 hours to get there. I took the M3 and A338 south to Sandbanks where we took the Toll Ferry which connects Poole and Bournemouth to the Isle of Purbeck.
Overall, the drive was effortlessly smooth and comfortable; the tyres gave an excellent high-speed performance and held the road brilliantly. They were especially good for driving on the motorway and along some of Dorset’s winding roads. The weather was mostly dry and sunny but we had one wet and misty morning. The sporty profile shape of the tyre creates really good stability and the innovative tread increases grip to deliver outstanding braking performance, which proved to be exceptional in both wet and dry conditions.
On this road trip to the Jurassic Coast, we stayed at Knoll House Hotel which is situated on Dorset’s Purbeck Peninsula, providing fabulous uninterrupted sea views, with Shell Bay and Knoll Beach just a stone’s throw away. The hotel has hosted a string of famous guests in the past, in particular, Enid Blyton who was a regular visitor with her stays inspiring her Famous Five series, but also Winston Churchill, King George VI and Dwight Eisenhower were here during the 1940s, and screen siren Vivien Leigh! Now a little dated perhaps but still quite charming, very comfortable and quintessentially English and after all it was once fit for a King.
Much as we were tempted to stay put and just enjoy the views, we were also perfectly positioned to explore the coastline over the next few days. Here’s where our road trip around the Jurassic Coast took us.
Table of Contents
First Stop on our Dorset Jurassic Coast Road Trip – Studland Bay
Studland Bay stretches for four miles; beautiful sheltered unspoilt sandy beaches ideal for water sports, beach games, relaxing or building sandcastles. We were staying at Knoll Beach which is backed by a wilderness of dunes, Shell Bay is also backed by dunes and heathland, South Beach is the smallest and most popular with the locals, whereas Middle Beach is sheltered by low cliffs. And, for any naturists, among you, there is a 1km designated naturist area.
On arrival we were able to take in some of the picturesque coastline on foot, walking along Studland Bay south to Old Harry Rocks, one of the Jurassic Coast’s imposing chalk formations. Even if you can’t stay at ‘The Pig On Beach’, once the summer residence of the aristocratic Bankes family who owned Corfe Castle and Kingston Lacy near Wimborne, it’s worth dropping by for drinks as we did and sitting on their lawn which boasts spectacular views.
If you’ve got enough time then do head north to reach the traditional endpoint of the 630-mile South West Coast Path.
But with just two days to explore we had to get on the road….
The coastal roads are a driver’s dream. Lovely winding well-kept roads flanked by colourful hedgerows and stunning landscape with verdant fields and lush rolling hills made all the more pleasurable by a fine set of wheels which drove well over rough and smooth surfaces. We meandered through several lovely Dorset villages, real country idylls with traditional cob houses and pretty cottages made of Purbeck stone.
Our road trip took us along the coast between Studland and Lyme Regis.
A bit of history at Corfe Castle
You can’t help but marvel at Corfe Castle which sits regally above Corfe village at the top of a magnificent hill close to Swanage. This iconic early Norman castle which is now a ruin was one of the country’s great strongholds. Built during the reign of William the Conqueror to control passage through the Purbeck Hills via a road between Swanage and Wareham. William established 36 castes Between 1066 and 1087 in England, but they weren’t usually situated on hilltops and were more likely to be built in a valley, it was also unusual for castles at this time to be built of stone, which gave Corfe particularly high status.
Corfe Castle was defended by Lady Bankes (the wife of its owner) during the English Civil War, before being betrayed by someone inside the castle, Lady Bankes was allowed to go free, but in 1646 the Castle was partially demolished by the Parliamentarians to stop it being used in the future.
Accessed via the village, this National Trust medieval castle is well worth a visit. We parked in the Purbeck Carpark below the village and walked up. Open 7 days a week, but do check their website for opening times, and currently, it’s best to book ahead.
Rock Pooling, Snorkelling and Surfing at Kimmeridge
Kimmeridge Bay is part of the Jurassic Coast (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) found along the South West Coast Path national walking trail. It is located within a marine Special Area of Conservation and is known to be one of the best and safest beaches for rock pooling and snorkelling in Dorset. The area is also popular with surfers and windsurfers with sea breezes and surf created by the rock ledges underneath the waves.
We arrived on a very misty morning, but the rock poolers were already out with their nets and buckets; it’s a great place to take the kids crabbing! You can visit the Wild Seas Centre which is beside the slipway, it’s free to take a look at their exhibitions and a small aquarium. It encourages all ages to explore the bay, its ledges and rockpools.
You can take a steep walk up to Clavell Tower which sits above the Bay, originally built as a folly and now used for holiday accommodation, for spectacular views over the bay. It has been an inspiration for both P.D. James and Enid Blyton.
We parked in the car park above the Bay, charges apply.
A Jewel of the Jurassic Coast – Lulworth Cove
When we arrived in Lulworth the sea mist still hadn’t lifted but that didn’t detract from its outstanding beauty. Lulworth Cove is one of the Jurassic Coast jewels; a delightfully secluded bay that has a crystal-clear water stream running into the bay from the chalk hills. It owes its existence to the collision of continents and the birth of the Alps!
If you want a bit of adventure, you can take a climb up the steep hill to neighbouring Durdle Dorr, another one of Dorset’s magnificent rock formations, or walk to Stair Hole which is reputed to be the inspiration for the location of Enid Blyton’s book ‘The Rubadub Mystery’. The area is especially popular with walkers, you can walk to the cove along the South West Coast Path national trail.
Lulworth Cove is part of the Lulworth Estate which has been owned and managed since 1941 by the Weld family. Alongside the cove sits the village of West Lulworth.
The cove itself is just a short walk from the large car park (costs apply) where you can also visit the Visitor Centre for information about the area and access toilet facilities. There are some wonderful quaint cottages to lust after as well as pubs and restaurants.
Bridport Harbour – West Bay
The mist was clearing and we were looking forward to our picnic lunch so we headed to West Bay which is also known as Bridport Harbour, a small seaside village centred around a small harbour with direct access to the Bay, technically it is a separate village to Bridport but it’s very close by. We parked in the village very easily and went down onto the bay with our picnic basket. A lovely sheltered beach which is a mix of shingle and sand overlooked by the dramatic East Cliffs.
You may recognise the town and surrounding area which was famously used for shooting the popular TV series Broadchurch.
Victorian Seaside Splendour at Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis has to be one of my favourite seaside resorts, with its Victorian Promenade, pretty pastel beach huts, Cobb harbour and the lovely sand and shingle town beach. By the time we arrived the sun was shining and families were walking the promenade eating ice creams and enjoying the seaside atmosphere.
We walked along the iconic Cobb as it is locally known, which was constructed as early as the 14th-century to shelter the town and its many boats from the frequent sea storms. Today it provides a hub for all the fishing activity in the area. But the Cobb is more memorable in my eyes for the dramatic scene in The French Lieutenant’s Woman with Meryl Streep. Writer John Fowles lived in Lyme for most of his life. Jane Austen encapsulates my view with this excerpt from of the integral scenes in her novel Persuasion on the Cobb.
A very strange stranger it must be, who does not see charms in the immediate environs of Lyme, to make him wish to know it better.
This historic town is the heart of the Jurassic Coast situated at the point where the rugged West Dorset and East Devon coastlines meet, sometimes known ‘Pearl of Dorset’. It has been a UNESCO world heritage site since the early 2000s.
And, for those looking for dinosaurs, Lyme Regis is famous as the birthplace of Mary Anning, one of history’s significant palaeontologists and fossil collectors. In the 1800s she found a complete ichthyosaur in Lyme when she was just 12-years-old. You can discover more about Mary’s life at the Lyme Regis Museum, built on the site of her family’s home. To this day Lyme is still a great place to go for fossil hunting and there are lots of fossil shops in the town if you don’t find your own ichthyosaur
The Jurassic Coast got its name because of its extraordinary geological history which spans millions of years. The Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous period are all represented within a 96-mile stretch…. there is so much more to explore!
After a wonderful couple of days rediscovering some of this spectacular coastline, we drove back to London. Our road trip route around the Dorset Jurassic Coast had taken us from the Purbeck Peninsula to some spectacular and very different places. Here’s a summary of our road trip over two days
- Studland Bay
- Corfe Castle
- Lulworth Cove
- Bridport Harbour and West Bay
- Lyme Regis
It had been a thoroughly enjoyable journey, travelling in the comfort and safety of our car. The Bridgestone Potenza Sports tyres are definitely a tyre for the road with great sporty handling, excellent steering response, good grip levels and very quick to respond in both dry and wet conditions.
Roads trips and staycations are definitely the way forward this summer, but do make sure you check your tyres before you hit the road!
The new Bridgestone Potenza Sport is a high-performance tyre that enables you to maximise the full potential of your vehicle and continue on your journey in complete control. For more information about the survey and about Bridgestone Potenza please visit the Bridgestone Tyres website