Dorset’s rugged Jurassic Coast doesn’t just provide a dramatic backdrop for coastal visits from the lush countryside – it also provides the kind of outdoor terrain all rock climbers crave, and it’s for this reason that Dorset has garnered a glowing reputation among outdoor enthusiasts. While staying at Summer Lodge or The Acorn Inn in the idyllic village of Evershot, pay a visit to the Jurassic Coast to see for yourself why rock climbing in Dorset has become so well known across the country.
In its entirety, the Jurassic Coast stretches across 95 miles of England’s coastline, with Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, which are said to record 185 million years of the Earth’s past. With such incredible history evident in these cliffs, and fossils to be found within the sheltered coves, it’s worth setting aside some time to explore on foot. But to get more hands-on, and feel the thrill of overcoming a challenge, many people come for the rock climbing.
Within the Dorset stretch of this extraordinary coastline, it’s the areas of Portland and Swanage that garner the most attention. Here, the diversity of rock-faces suit all ages and climbing abilities, with plenty of bouldering opportunities, too. Naturally, these walls need to be tackled with a professional climbing instructor who can provide the climbing equipment while ensuring everyone’s safety. This is where Dorset’s outdoor pursuits specialists come in.
First-time climbers can join an Introduction and Taster Day for Climbing with Dorset Adventures. While taking on some of the coast’s easier routes, participants learn basic techniques they can use to improve. From there, participant’s then have the chance to continue on to more advanced climbing courses.
Freeborn Climbing are another outfitter offering climbing courses along the Dorset coast, including a two-day Introduction to Climbing. In addition to courses, meanwhile, Portland Climbing offers Custom Days Out, perfect for anyone who wants to organise their own tailored climbing trip during their time in the region.
Climbing Sites around Swanage
The coastal town of Swanage is the setting off point for three miles of limestone cliffs; the fossils found here earned this coastal stretch its inclusion in the Jurassic Coast World Heritage area. The most popular climbing sites here are Dancing Ledge, which is a flat area at the base of a cliff, the limestone walls of Hedbury Quarry for more advanced climbers, and Boulder Ruckle, where climbers also have the chance to abseil.
Climbing Sites around Portland
The tiny island of Portland lies in the English Channel, just off the Dorset Coast, and is connected to Chesil Beach on the mainland by road. As a part of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, this is another popular place for rock climbing in Dorset. In fact, despite its size, Portland alone has 35 climbing routes. The west coast is home to a number of bolted routes, while the east coast is better known for its easier routes and bouldering terrain. For a greater variety in one place, many climbers head to The Cuttings or Reptile Smile.
Back in Evershot, guests of Summer Lodge and The Acorn Inn can rest their tired limbs while tucking into wholesome local cuisine with a glass of fine wine. After being out on the cliffs all day, it’s certainly well deserved.
Image credits: Cover photo © iStock / Joe Gough. Durdle Door © iStock / allou. Climbing in Portland © Flickr / Robbie Shade. Climbing at Blacknor © Flickr / Robbie Shade. Climbing in Portland © Visit England / Visit Dorset.