COVID-19

As the Covid-19 lockdown eases, access for climbing is opening back up, subject to some measures and restrictions depending on where you are going. Please make sure you have read and understood our current advice before heading out and apply it alongside RAD advice to ensure access issues don’t develop.

Lulworth Cove Area

Swanage

Lulworth Cove is home to some of the earliest recorded traditional routes in Dorset. In recent times a collection of hard sport routes have been added at Stair Hole, including the famous Mark of the Beast (F7b+). Nowadays Stair Hole is known as a popular DWS venue.

Crag information
Climbing Area: South West & Southern Rock Type: Limestone
Importance: National CRoW Land: Yes
Ownership: Estate No. of Routes: 200
Within National Park: No Year Developed: 1988
Grid Reference: SY82267982

The climbing on Stair Hole, Dungy Head and Durdle Door all fall within an area of land mapped as Open Access under CRoW. Climbing is a permitted activity under the CRoW legislation so there is a legal right of access to all three areas for climbers, walkers and members of the public.

A climbers code of conduct has been developed to help address concerns about conflict between climbers, members of the public and nesting birds - please follow the guidelines closely. Please take a discrete approach to climbing in the area which periodically attracts negative attention through tombstoning and the resulting injuries and rescues. Climbing and DWS are clearly different and permitted here, but can be caught up in media stories about tombstoning, so make an effort to keep a low profile so as not to encourage members of the public to have a go.

For safety reasons, there is no public access to the military ranges east of Lulworth Cove (which are used for live firing), other than on days when the ranges are open due to firing not taking place and even then only the marked path can be used. This means that no climbing can be accessed within the ranges at any time as it would necessitate walking off of the marked path.

Parking and Approach

Lulworth Cove is well signed from the town of Wool which is on the A352 and the main crags are approached from the big car park in West Lulworth (where there is a parking charge in summer but none in winter). Crag appraoches from here are:

Dungy Head/Church Rock: walk up the main road, past the Heritage Centre, and continue up the steep hill on the right. After 200m turn left up a hidden track, by a large double garage, just past Stair House and follow this steeply to gain a ridge. The routes are all approached from here.

Stair Hole: walk up the main road, past the Heritage Centre, and continue over a ridge to descend into the Stair Hole basin. Do not bear left towards the telescope on the hill.

Durdle Door: can easily be reached by walking over the hill from Lulworth where you will arrive on the map below. Alternatively you can park in the car park which is situated at the far side of Durdle Door campsite. 

Amphitheatre Roofs: is situated on the far side of the main Lulworth Cove. Walk around the shingle beach of the main cove and follow a steep track up the slope on the far side. Take the lower path to the main coast path and after about 150m double back down the slope to a rock amphitheatre. From here scramble (Diff) or abseil down to just above the water-line from the far side of the amphitheatre marked by a deep gully. The starts are reached by scrambling along the base of the cliff which is easy at low tide but tricky at high tide (VDiff). It is also possible to abseil into the eastern end from a large stake 20m from the MOD fence. Leave gear well out of sight to avoid being "rescued".

CRoW Information

Open access land, designated under the Countryside & Rights of Way Act (2000) give area access rather than linear access as provided by public rights of way. It also gives a legal right of access specifically for climbing, as well as walking and other quiet recreation on foot.

Please bear in mind however that the landowner still has the right to restrict access for up to 28 days per year (often used on public safety grounds for shooting in moorland areas), and can also apply for longer term restrictions with Natural England (such as bans on dogs, or regular restrictions during particular times of year). It is important to check for these restrictions regularly as they can be added at short notice – all details for open access land in England can be found on Natural England’s website.  

Group Advice

Generally unsuitable for group use.

Area information

Weather Information

Guidebook info currently being updated

Lulworth Climber's Code of Conduct

Updated: 10/05/2017

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02/06/2020
02/06/2020 - climbers (and everyone else) are being asked to stay away from this area until further notice. All local car parks are closed and there are police "no access" signs up on local roads.