In this series of articles from our archives, we turn our attention to various stretches of the glorious Dorset coastline.

THE coastline between Lulworth Cove and Bowleaze Cove near Weymouth is one of the most rugged and beautiful, yet arguably peaceful parts of Dorset's seascape.

The hills and cliffs rise and fall with the dramatic contours of the land; the South West Coast Path perched precariously on the edge and the pounding sea far below.

However, with little or no habitation on much of the stretch, the area is left to the wind, wildlife and walkers.

It is an ideal area for walking, great swathes of greensward and agriculture on one side and views across the channel on the other.

It's no wonder people describe this stretch of coastline as their favourite place.

The most recognisable landmark on the Jurassic Coast, perhaps even the whole south coast, is Durdle Door.

A pretty scene at Durdle Door captured by Gillian Thomas PhotographyA pretty scene at Durdle Door captured by Gillian Thomas Photography (Image: Gillian Thomas Photography)

This magnificent 65-foot arch was formed by the sea eroding softer rocks and leaving behind the hard limestone. It seems to take on different hues depending on the angle of the sun.

READ MORE: 'All about Clouds Hill in Dorset'

A beach lies on either side of the great arch, one known as Man o'War Bay, and access is either by a half-mile walk from Lulworth Cove or a drive through the adjacent holiday park to a parking site.

Crystal clear waters at Man o' War Bay by CW HillCrystal clear waters at Man o' War Bay by CW Hill (Image: CW Hill)

To the west is the impressive cliff of Bat's Head, the four sea stacks known as the Calf, the Cow, the Blind Cow and the Bull and the imposing Swyre Head.

White Nothe - Chris ShortWhite Nothe - Chris Short (Image: Chris Short)

The massive cliff at White Nothe (also referred to as White Nose), east of Ringstead, is a mixture of crumbling chalk and thin grass cover. A huge landslide is a dominant feature.

The hills above Ringstead offer superb views of Portland and the coastline.

Bowleaze Cove on a sunny September morning, taken by John KayeBowleaze Cove on a sunny September morning, taken by John Kaye (Image: John Kaye)

Bowleaze Cove, on the outskirts of Weymouth, where the small River Jordan runs into the sea, is a popular spot for water sports. From there to Weymouth centre is a long stretch of beach gradually turning from shingle to sand.


A landslip in 1826 near the White Nothe cliffs created the phenomenon know as 'Burning Cliff', when a chemical reaction caused the organic-rich clays to start smouldering. It had the appearance of a volcanic eruption and anyone getting too close to the smoke felt dizzy. The fire eventually burnt itself out.

RAF Ringstead Radar Station became operational in 1940 as part of the Chain Home and Chain Home Low transmitter/receiver radar chain, and was used until 1956. The USAAF 2180th Communications Squadron operated a Tropospheric Scatter System on the site until the station's closure in 1970. The controversial 150ft high aerial masts were dismantled and removed in 1974.

Ringstead Bay Ringstead Bay (Image: NQ)

The deserted medieval village of Ringstead was decimated by, according to who you believe, economic troubles, Black Death or pillaging French pirates. It became a centre for smuggling and is now an area good for fossils, particularly in the Kimmeridge Clay cliffs.

READ MORE: 'Stories of forgotten Dorset heroes'

The Smugglers Inn at Osmington Mills has one of the best pub car parks in Britain - just for the views across to Portland. The building is said to date from the thirteenth century and was once home to Emmanuel Charles, leader of an infamous gang of smugglers.

The Riviera Hotel, in Bowleaze Cove, Weymouth The Riviera Hotel, in Bowleaze Cove, Weymouth (Image: Supplied)

The striking art deco Riviera Hotel overlooking the sea at Bowleaze Coveway was built in 1937. The white structure is a listed building and visible for miles. It became part of the Pontin's empire in the late 1950s and has latterly been run by a hotels group.

The painter John Constable spent a great deal of time, including his honeymoon, in Osmington due to his friendship with the village rector, Archdeacon John Fisher. He painted many area landscapes, including one, of Bowleaze, now hanging in the National Gallery.

Jordan Hill Roman Temple Jordan Hill Roman Temple (Image: NQ)

On the hill behind Bowleaze Cove in a prominent lies the Jordan Hill Roman Temple, or rather, the square foundations of a fourth century Romano-Celtic temple. Entry is free, although there is not a lot to see. Legend has it that that squatters moved in during the fifth century.

White Horse at Osmington Hill White Horse at Osmington Hill (Image: Supplied)

Many stories have grown up around the origins of the white horse chalk figure on Osmington Hill.

That it is George III is without doubt, but the king never saw it as it was carved after his last visit to Weymouth and did the creator really commit suicide when he realised his subject was facing the wrong way - out of town?