Guided walking at Lulworth Cove with HF Holidays
respectfully back from the cliff edge beside Old Harry Rocks, I’m thrilled to
get a clear view across the water to The Needles off the Isle of Wight. For someone who always loved physical
geography lessons at school, it’s very special to be standing at the eastern
end of one of the world’s most unique coastlines.
millennia gone by, the Old Harry Rocks and The Needles were part of a
continuous land mass, gradually eroded by the sea to leave two groups of chalk
stacks. Today Old Harry marks the east
Dorset end of the UNESCO-listed Jurassic Coast which runs westward for 95 miles
to Exmouth in Devon.
outdoor person will tell you that walking is good for both body and soul, but
I’d go one further. Group walking trips should be available on the NHS, the
perfect antidote to lethargy, loneliness and any fit of the blues. There’s nothing quite like following a footpath
in good company to boost the mood. So a spring break with HF Holidays along Dorset’s Jurassic
Coast ticked all my boxes. Spectacular coastal scenery, like-minded company and
the promise of HF’s plentiful home-cooked food.
base for four nights was West Lulworth House a short walk from the iconic
horseshoe bay that is Lulworth Cove. Built in 1881 and brought bang up to date with all modern facilities and
stylish decor, the property is open most of the year, but if you want to stay
here, you’ll need to book ahead. The 22
well-appointed rooms with views over the village to sea and hills are very
popular. But you’ll find similar
facilities and an equally warm welcome at all of HF’s 18 country houses.
Lulworth House follows the company’s tried-and-tested formula - a choice of
guided walks each day with qualified, knowledgeable leaders with accommodation on a full-board basis. Spring and winter walkers may find a pub lunch or afternoon tea
replacing the usual al fresco picnic, a popular comfort break in case of
inclement weather. In March however,
just a week after the Siberian snows sent temperatures plummeting across
Britain, I was blessed with blue skies and a light sea breeze. Stunning doesn’t even come close.
three days of walking involved two pub lunches – food choices selected the
night before – and one of HF’s fabulous picnics. Dinners are all home-cooked and eaten
companionably around large tables in the pretty dining room with panoramic
windows over the village. And if you
are one of the many people suffering from food intolerances, be reassured –
many of their home-cooked dishes are marked Gluten Free and managers Mark and
Lisa bent over backwards to accommodate my travel companion’s additional
as menu choices are made each evening for the day ahead, so too are the
walks. In spring we had a choice of two
each day, Easier and Harder. Summer
clients generally have a third option. Our routes were all between 4 and 8 miles, one starting direct from West
Lulworth House, the other two involving a short journey by coach to the start
with pick-up afterwards.
section of the Jurassic Coast does not involve the rugged ascents of mountain
landscapes, but there are some long, steady climbs. It is not however beyond the capabilities of
any regular rambler, and stops for drinks, snacks or photo moments ensured that
nobody felt overstretched. Along the
way, our excellent local guides Kai and Jo added to my rusty school knowledge
of this unique coastline.
one thing to read about chalk and greensand, Purbeck Beds and Portland Stone,
but quite another to see the coloured rock layers jutting out into the
sea. The horseshoe shape of Lulworth
Cove and the natural arch of Durdle Door still pull visitors by the thousands,
but in spring, we were almost alone, and every step brought new views, both
coastal and inland.
walked across protected heathland with views of Poole harbour; headed over
chalk downs to the song of skylarks; and stood on shingle beaches to the
soothing sound of the sea. After three days on the trail, I’d walked around 22
miles, eaten some great food, and met some really lovely people. I felt energised but mentally relaxed and my
bathroom scales proved that walking in the fresh air does a great job of
burning off calories.
what’s not to like? Honestly
nothing. So if you’ve ever fancied a
walking holiday but hesitated, don’t. An HF holidays short break is the perfect option with its daily choice
of routes. All you have to do is turn
up and put one sturdy walking boot in front of the other – everything else is
done for you. And if you fancy a day
off the trail, that’s fine too.
lady who had damaged her knee since booking still came with her sister-in-law
and simply drove herself to local attractions such as Corfe Castle and
Swanage. Another woman let her husband
do the walking one day whilst she sat in the sun at Lulworth Cove. And the company can be invigorating too. I walked with a lovely young French girl living
in Oxford and a lady from Bergen in Norway, together putting Europe to rights
as we tramped the undulations of Dorset. Just three days on the trail, but an immeasurable boost to both
wellbeing and fitness!
Travel Advisor recommends HF Holidays.