5 Best Beaches on the Dorset Coast
What Dorset may lack in overall coastline it certainly makes up for in the variety and quality of beaches along the 60 or so miles of coast. The fact that over half the county's coastline is made up by the UNESCO World Heritage Site Jurassic Coast should give one an inkling that there's something special about Dorset's beaches!
The choice of coves and beaches is impressive with, to use a cliche, something for everyone. There are vast sandy stretches around Bournemouth, quality surf spots near Kimmeridge and the most amazing and bizarre coves along the Purbeck coast. This is prime holiday territory so the choice of Dorset cottages to rent is pretty comprehensive too
Located on the Isle of Purbeck (which isn't really an island) is the anomoly that is Lulworth Cove. Formed relatively quickly in geological terms the cove is almost a perfect circle with a break in the cliffs leading out to the open ocean.
It is the result of several hundred thousand years erosion by the sea of the various bands of rock and clay that form the coast here. The cliffs are limestone and chalk, where as the hole in the middle is hewn from softer clay.
Best for Millionaires
Arguably the most overpriced strip (or spit if you prefer) of land in the UK is Sandbanks on the outer edge of Poole harbour. Boasting a plethora of the most expensive houses in Britain (and therefore the World!) Sandbanks is the haunt of the inordinately wealthy and a source of fascination to those who aren't!
Whilst the narrow strip of sandy, beach fringed land has its merits, including great views across the World's 3rd biggest harbour, it is hard for the mere mortals amongst to understand how many of the houses here fetch over £5 million. But the likes of Liam Gallagher. Lenny Kravitz and Gordon Ramsay have all been rumoured to have an interest in property here. Sandbanks is particularly popular with premiership footballers.
Best for Families
Fisherman's Walk Beach in Boscombe (just outside Bournemouth) is a fine example of a good old fashioned British family beach. Other close contenders were Swanage and Weymouth, but Weymouth tends to get ridiculously crowded in the summer and the parking is just a bit easier here.
As you would expect of a family beach Fisherman's Walk is safe in all respects with clean water (Blue Flag Award) and seasonal lifeguards. The bathing is made even safer with zoning for watercraft and the LV= KidZone - lost children scheme.
It also has all the facilities nearby including shop, cafe and toilets.
Best for Fossils
They don't call this stretch of coast The Jurassic coast for nothing! With cliffs and coast documenting 180 million years of geology, the Blue Lias rock here is rich in fossils from this period. Frequent landslips regularly unearth new fossils making this a haven for paleontologists.
Charmouth beach near Lyme Regis is one of the most accessible and amenable sites on the coast for fossil hunting with recent cliff falls exposing many fossils. The most common find is the ammonite although it was near here that Mary Anning famously discovered the first complete ichthyosaurus back in 1811.
These days however you'd be pretty lucky to find too much as there are plenty of commercial fossil collectors combing this stretch.
Best for Length
I basically tailor-made this category for Chesil Beach as it deserves mention. At 18 miles (29Km) long and virtually straight for most of its length, the beach here is pretty spectacular. It doesn't become any less unusual on closer inspection either. The beach consists of a shingle bank reaching 50ft (15m) high and around 600ft (200m) wide - it is apparently and example of a 'tombolo'!
One interesting fact about Chesil beach is that the size of the chert and flint shingle actually gradually changes size over the length of the beach. I can't remember which way around it is but the stones are bigger at one end than the other.
Another unusual fact is the stones that make up the beach are not like any in the locality and their exact origin is not entirely clear.