The South West Coast Path: Lyme Regis to Portland

The South West Coast Path: Lyme Regis to Portland

The South West Coast Path stretches an amazing 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset, through Devon and Cornwall and finishes at Poole Harbour in Dorset. It passes through some of the most beautiful and dramatic scenery in the UK. Over the last couple of years I have walked stretches of the route along the Jurassic Coast between Lyme Regis and Portland with my family. As we live in the Midlands, it’s always a treat for us to spend time by the sea and this part of the country really is special.

Lyme Regis

I love Lyme Regis. It’s such a lovely, traditional seaside town and has a gorgeous sandy beach. There’s plenty to keep you occupied if you want to spend some time here, including the aquarium, a museum and lots of places to get a bite to eat. From here, the South West Coast Path heads slightly inland, however the views from Timber Hill are well worth the effort. From here you have a great view of Lyme Regis and Charmouth. The route then descends into the unspoilt village of Charmouth.

Lyme Regis has a lovely sandy beach and is a good place to start exploring the Jurassic Coast

Charmouth

Charmouth is one of the best places in the UK to find fossils. If you have time, it’s well worth popping into the heritage centre right by the beach to find out what exactly you should be looking for. After heading through the village, the path follows a section of the Monarch’s Way, based on the escape route taken by Charles II after the battle of Worcester, before it starts to head towards the mighty Golden Cap. At a 191 metres above sea level, this is the highest point on the south coast and offers amazing views in all directions. As you head down to Seatown, it’s worth looking back to take in the striking yellow sandstone of the cliffs.

West Bay

The path hugs the rugged coastline for the next stretch, again sometimes following the Monarch’s Way, and offering amazing scenery. The view from the top of Thorncombe Beacon is especially good. The dramatic cliffs of West Bay may well be familiar to viewers of the tv series Broadchurch, as it was used as a prominent location during filming. The South West Coastal Path follows the dramatic cliff line, I love this bit as it’s usually fairly quiet and the sea air is invigorating!

 

West Bexington

We stumbled upon West Bexington by accident, and it really is a hidden gem. There’s a car park and cafe and mile upon mile of golden shingle beach. On the day we were there, there was no one around, which made it extra special. There is also a nature reserve which is home to many species of bird. From here, the path heads to the historic village of Abbotsbury, which is well worth a look around if you can spare the time. The route then heads a little inland, before heading back to the coastline. This section runs beside the Fleet Lagoon, the largest tidal lagoon in Britain and the natural ridge of Chesil Beach.

West Bexington is a little oasis of calm along the popular route

Portland

The Isle of Portland is actually not an island at all, as it is tied to the mainland by Chesil Beach. To get here, you can follow either the road and cycle way from Ferry Bridge, or the shingle ridge of Chesil Beach. The Coast Path follows the circumference of the isle, offering fairly easy walking along the old quarry tracks. The highlight though has to be the famous Portland Bill lighthouse, which is open to the public. At the southern tip by the lighthouse is a great spot to sit with an ice cream and enjoy the views.

It’s a great route down the coast to the Isle of Portland and the iconic lighthouse

This section of the South West Coastal Path is around 45 miles in total, so needs to be done in sections. The route is generally well marked so navigation is not too challenging, and it is mostly of a moderate difficulty. It is a beautiful path that is within the capability of most walkers with a decent level of fitness. It is worth noting however that care should be taken when walking along cliff paths and through some of the more exposed sections.

For other things to see and do in the area:

Pecorama

Andrewshayes Holiday Park

Seaton Wetlands

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