Lulworth Cove, England

   On July 30th, 2016; I visited the incredible rock formations and stunning scenery around Lulworth Cove, England.   

Lulworth Cove area map

The beauty of the Purbeck Coast results from the way the power of the sea has acted on rocks of different resistance. At Lulworth Cove, limestone forms a massive bastion against the sea. A perfect horseshoe bay has developed where a stream breached the limestone, allowing the sea to enter the valley and hollow out the softer clays lying behind the limestone barrier. The Chalk forms a resistant cliff at the back of the bay.

Geological map of the Lulworth Cove area; image taken from
Geological cross-section of the Lulworth Cove area; drawn by Ian West
Process of how Lulworth Cove is formed; Image taken from: “The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast: A Walk Through Time” Brunsden 2003

     Pictured below, the oyster-shaped cove was created over thousands of years, as the sea broke through the Purbeck and Portland limestone cliffs and began to erode the softer clay and chalk behind.

Looking east towards Lulworth Cove, England

     On one side of the cove, the Middle and Upper Purbeck rock strata are contorted and folded into the “Lulworth Crumples,” one of which is in the back of the cliff at adjacent Stair Hole. Here the breach has been made by collapsing caves and arches. This has revealed the famous ‘Lulworth Crumble’, a complex fold formed by major earth movements that occurred in the same period that the Alps were formed.

Looking west towards the, “Stair Hole” England
Looking south-west towards the “Stair Hole”, England

     Pictured below, I’m standing near Durdle Dor, (a few kilometers west of Lulworth Cove).  Durdle is truly one of nature’s marvels, and one of the most photographed subjects along Dorset’s Jurassic Coast.

Looking south over the ocean at Durdle Dor, England 2016

     This giant limestone arch straddles the sea at the eastern end of the Durdle Dor Cove. Carved by the pounding southwesterly waves, the softer rocks have eroded, leaving the more resistant Portland stone standing firm. These rocks were laid down between 135 and 195 million years ago, in the Jurassic period when southern England was under a tropical sea. The rocks here have been tilted so they are almost vertical, and the limestone barrier has been almost destroyed.

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