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World Heritage Site

for World Heritage Travellers

Dorset and East Devon Coast

Dorset and East Devon Coast

Dorset and East Devon Coast comprises 8 sections along the south coast of Great Britain that are globally important for the study of paleontology and geomorphology.

Rock formations are exposed from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous era's.

Great numbers of animal (marine and terrestrial) and plant fossils have been discovered here, as well as fossil dinosaur footprints. They include Dimorphodon macronyx, one of the earliest flying reptiles, and Scelidosaurus harrisoni, the "Charmouth dinosaur".

Geomorphological fields of study include a great variety of landslides, and beach formation and evolution on a retreating coastline. Chesil Beach for example is one of the best-studied beaches in the world. And the Fleet Lagoon, enclosed by Chesil Beach, is one of the most important saline lagoons in Europe. The site shows excellent examples of landforms, including the natural arch at Durdle Door, the cove and limestone folding at Lulworth Cove and an island, the Isle of Portland.

Map of Dorset and East Devon Coast


  • Natural

Visit July 1979

I was nine, when I visited Dorset with my parents. The pictures show the cliffs and caves, Storhead (a park?), a swannery and me with a monkey on my shoulder.

July 1979

What I remember (not on the pictures): eating fishsticks day after day, and playing with the children of the owners of the Bed & Breakfast we stayed in (I became a member of their Puffin-club).

Community Reviews

Joel Baldwin Australia 19-Jun-17

Dorset and East Devon Coast by Joel Baldwin

We visited the Jurassic Coast of Dorset and East Devon in May 2016. The site itself is very large, and covers about 1/3rd of the southern coastline of England. Although we'd allowed for two days to drive various parts of it, very uncooperative weather meant that we had to rush through most of it in just one day. The highlights I'd recommend are:

- Lulworth Cove, where you can see several hundred million years of geology in one spot

- Durdle Door, just adjacent to Lulworth Cove and very spectacular

- Fossil hunting on the shore at Lyme Regis, where many dinosaur bones have been found and ammonite fossils are just sitting around on rocks

- The Dorset County Museum in Weymouth has quite a bit of info as well and is a good rainy day options

Several other spots including the rock stacks near Durdle Door we had to skip, partly for time but also because many places charge 5 pounds or more for parking!

See below for my full video review.

Read more from Joel Baldwin here.

Frederik Dawson Netherlands 10-Apr-13

Dorset and East Devon Coast by Frederik Dawson

Walking along the beautiful coastline of white chalk cliff between the Lulworth Cove and the natural arch of Durdle Door was probably one of the highlight of my England trip. Originally not part of my first plan, but I decided to visit this place after saw picture of the Durdle Door on Wikipedia, at that time I hardly believed that the place was in England.

Travel without own vehicle was the real pain in the area especially in winter, from Wool train station there were infrequent bus connect the town to the village of West Lulworth, but the schedule was not so friendly to leisurely sightseer, at the end I decided to take taxi to Durdle Door and walk back to Lulworth Cove for better bus connection. Taxi took me to some kind of campsite with many small summer houses in the middle of green rolling hills, the driver said this place was the most convenient to see the famous natural arch, and true to his words, after walking downhill I started to see the coastline with stunning turquoise water of Atlantic. Then I saw the headland and a cove, the one on the photo of Ian Cade’s review, called Men O’ War Cove, the view was pretty lovely, I continued along the pathway to see the viewpoint where with my surprised, I saw the Durdle Door! Actually I planned to walk on the beach in Durdle Cove, but the access was closed with warning sign of danger, so I had no chance to see the Durdle Door closely, but the view of the area was really great. I looked at the coastline and saw that the chalk cliff is melting into the ocean, a sign that erosion from the ocean is still continuing and one day the cliff I saw will be gone.

After Durdle door, I tracked back to Lulworth Cove to see its almost perfect circle cove, the area was again a lovely place but with more tourist facilities. After leisurely walk in the area, I took a bus back to Wool Station before continued my trip to Stonehenge. I was quite surprised to know that the area was called Jurassic Coast for its abundance of fossils; so this was the second fossils site place I saw after Monte Giorgio on Italy and Switzerland border. However, I could not find anything in the area to emphasize the fossil; all information was about stunning geology or do I misunderstand something about the place? For me the coastline of Dorset is a lovely place to visit for its landscape, and it is more interesting than the one in Dover.

John booth New Zealand 04-May-10

Dorset and East Devon Coast by John Booth

I also found extensive views of Chesil Beach from the causeway near Weymouth and from Littlesea.

The quarry area on Portland bill was very interesting too, with the cut stones ready to be lowered into barges, long since discontinued, for tranport and use in many London buildings.

Other interesting features along the cast were the cliffs at Bowleaze Cove, the red cliffs of Sidmouth and the Devon Cliffs at Exmouth.

Ian Cade England 03-Jul-06

Dorset and East Devon Coast by Ian Cade

I really quite enjoyed my trips to this piece of coastline, I have visited pretty regularly having family days out here when I was very young, but I have also made two trips to specifically tick it off as a visited site.

Whilst the reasons for its inscription may seem a little dull,

“The coastal exposures within the site provide an almost continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning the Mesozoic Era”

The reality is actually a little more interesting and you don’t have to be a budding geologist to have a nice trip here.

I visited the part of the coast stretching from the almost completely circular Lulworth Cove along to the Durdle Door (which is just the other side of the headland in the picture). It is a really nice walk, giving you a bit of exercise and fresh air as well as the ‘Highlights’ of the coast, well for the non expert anyway. Unfortunately after a few hours spent breaking open any rock we could see we were not able to uncover any fossils, but apparently this is one of the best places in the Europe to do it.

The little village of Lulworth has a great visitor centre and a fine fish and chip shop so makes a nice place to start and end in. And for those that share my silly obsession of finding the World Heritage symbol on a plaque then just to the west of the cove there is a really fine example of the symbol and the reasons for its inscription!

There are lots of lovely little towns and villages all along the coast, replete with B&B’s, campsites and small hotels, or if you wanted just a day trip to the coast the best place to base yourself would probably be Bournemouth which has a nice seaside charm, it also sits on the edge of the New Forest which is on the UK tentative list and has an airport used by budget airlines!

The coast is a nice place to get a dose of fresh air and rewards even the non experts who visit it.

Marie Indge, UK 10-Nov-05

The views of Durdle Door and Portland Bay from the cliff tops are quite something and the walk down to the beaches at Durdle Door is certainly worth the effort. On a hot day the sea is so inviting and clean and on a stormy day, the atmosphere is simply electric.

Jeremy Tollpuddle, England

Dorset and East Devon Coast by Jeremy Tollpuddle

This is the closest site to me but it has taken me a long tme to get around to see it. In the end i was very happy that i did. I visited the area around Lulworth Cove and the Durdle Door, which was a really fantastic way to spend an afternoon and the walk along the cliff top is highly advisable, it is a nice 2km (1.2 mile) walk, but it is up and down hill so provides a bit of a work out!!. the two Lulworth Villages were really pretty aswell. definatly worth a visit if you are in the area, amkes a nice afternoon away from nearby Bournmouth, which is a very nice places to visit aswell

Ronni B., Saudi Arabia

The Dorset Coast extends from outstanding coasts to vast cliffs displaying its internal beauty to those who visit.What i was told there many tourists were stunned by the fasinating creatons...=)

Bill Billsworthy, Australia

I used to live in Dorset. It was a bit cold but I highly advise you to go there. Any information about the coastline would be greatly appreciated as I am doing a project on it at school. Thankyou.

Norman Day, UK

I'm delighted to see that you have listed the spectacular Dorset and East Devon coastline so quickly and that you have visited this beautiful part of the world. More information on this coast can be found on and information on the area can be found on The swannary is in the beautiful village of Abbotsbury on the Dorset coast. The famous Chesil beach, a major feature of this World Heritage Site, is best viewed from the hill above Abbotsbury village.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 2.67. Based on 9 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Dorset and East Devon Coast

Unesco ID: 1029

  • Country:
  • UK

Inscribed: 2001

Type: Natural

Criteria: 8  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2001 - Inscribed 


The site has 8 locations.

  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: Bowleaze Cove to Peveril Point Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: Chesil, the Fleet and Portland Coast Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: Lyme Regis to West Bay Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: New Swanage to Studland Bay Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: Orcombe Rocks to Chit Rocks, Sidmouth Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: Portland Harbour Shore Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: River Axe, Axmouth to The Cobb, Lyme Regis Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela
  • Dorset and East Devon Coast: River Sid, Sidmouth to Seaton Hole Dorset and East Devon, England, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Irela


The site has 22 connections.


  • Lighthouses: Portland Bill lighthouse (dating from 1669)


Individual People

  • Napoleon was here: There is a story that Napoleon was seen landing in 1804 at Lulworth (to inspect it as an invasion beachhead), Thomas Hardy later writing a poem and a short story about these incidents.
  • Painted by JMW Turner


  • Jurassic: The property's geology displays approximately 185 million years of the Earth's history, including a number of internationally important fossil localities. (Nom file)


WHS on Other Lists

World Heritage Process

  • Inscribed on a single criterion only: viii. to be outstanding examples representing major stages of earth's history, including the record of life, significant on-going geological processes in the development of landforms, or significant geomorphic or physiographic features


138 community members have visited Dorset and East Devon Coast.