No doubt the best thing about traveling is the thrill of finding new hidden places.
This week, my friend and I decided to create our own little adventure and go for a road trip on England’s South Coast, driving from Southampton out west to Lulworth Cove. And what a day we had!
The night before and the morning of did not look too positive. Weather forecasts predicted rain, the sky looked gloomy and dull (nothing new for England) and our friends warned us “do NOT go to the coast or the New Forest if its raining… it will be MISERABLE.” We decided to go to the coast and the New Forest.
Our adventure began early in the morning with our backpacks packed with berries, kinder chocolate and salt and vinegar snacks, a car freshly tanked with fuel, a picnic rug on the back seat, and a GPS set for destination number one: Burley village in the heart of the new forest.
Driving into the village was an adventure itself. We came across numerous horses sporadically pondering around so we started a RHC- Random Horse Count. The roads were so thin they had “passing places” on the sides so that cars could actually pass each other. My friend Ellie and I didn’t really realize what was going on until about 8 cars coming towards us all of a sudden diverted to the side of the road to let us through. Lucky they knew what was going on.
Soon enough we had arrived at the Burley village. I don’t even have any photos of this place as the sky was so gloomy, rain was bucketing down and the air was an unfriendly cold. We got the courage to get out of the car and walk around whilst firmly holding onto our umbrellas, but we soon retreated as we realized we were actually in a WITCH village or something! All the shops seemed to sell witchery and magic products and the only sign of humans we saw was a lady who just stood outside the closed witch shop staring at us for sometime. She was probably just as confused as we were! And there wasn’t even a single shop open!
Ellie and I hopped straight back into the car and drove right out of the New Forest. It was a shame as this place could have been so beautiful but the weather really did dictate how it went. And I guess fate wanted us to be somewhere else. We drove back out onto the freeway and headed towards Swanage- a small coastal town on the south of England.
On our way to the coast, more grey clouds came in soon enough the rain let loose and started bucketing down again. All we could do was laugh in the car.
On our way to Swanage, we spotted the ruins of a castle on a hill. Little did we know that this was Corfe Castle and the village we discovered on the top of the hill which we thought was a ‘secret village you could only get to by trekking it through the bush’ actually had a carpark and direct entry off the freeway. At least we got some fitness in our day!
We pondered around the village sometime and things began to look a little more hopeful! We couldn’t help but squeal and jump around as we spotted the slightest hint of blue sky peaking through the heavy cloud cover of England. I checked the weather forecast and stared at it in disbelief as the forecast changed from cloud and rain to a hopeful little cheerful yellow sun! We decided to take some time out before heading out further to the coast so we found the cutest tea room. We asked the waitress if there was any seating outside and she doubtfully said “Yeah if you want to brave it!” I’m still not too sure what she thought it was like out there, but we had the loveliest time drinking tea and eating scones with the private view of the Corfe Castle- seriously no one else was out there! Our only company was a little bird which kept flying around us grabbing little crumbs of our scones.
With the hope that the sun might actually stay out for a while, we raced down to Swanage Pier where we came across a helpful gentlemen who gave us up a map with some directions to a place called Old Harry Rocks. The night before we googled it and thought it looked “nice” and that we should “probably see it”. Little did we know that these chalk formations were part of the Jurassic Coast- a WORLD HERITAGE SITE.
After driving around for a while trying to find the rocks which we thought were called Harry’s Old Rock, we managed to find the carpark which lead us out onto a footpath into the ‘bushland’ with an arrow pointing saying OLD HARRY’S ROCK. We walked and walked and walked…….
and walked and walked…….
until we wondered where exactly these rocks were? Ellie suggested that maybe we were on them. I laughed. We spotted a little gap in the trees and noticed a little dirt path which seemed to lead out onto the cliff face. Bored and tired of walking endlessly we ventured out and found THIS………
Thrilled by our discovery we took some time out to enjoy the breathtaking views by sitting on the grass looking out into the what looked like the Mediterranean Ocean, whilst eating some snacks and taking in the sunshine! That little ledge you can see in the pictures was a THRILL. I can’t even describe how high up it was- you were literally standing on a little piece of ground sticking out of the cliff face. Definitely a memorable experience!
With the sunshine out, the sky bursting with blue and our adventure mode kicking in, we were off to our next destination! Little did we know what waited for us at Lulworth Cove……
The drive further west was so beautiful! Green forests, valleys and hills.. The whole time while we were driving out, we could just see this dark grey cloud behind us in the rear view mirror. At one point it even started to hail! But we quickly raced away from it into the blue sky in the horizon…
Upon arrival at Lulworth Cove we noticed the MASSIVE hill to our left leading us to a place called Durdle Door. We first decided to venture down the short road towards the cove. What we found was quite possibly one of the most surprising and picturesque places I have yet seen in the UK. I could not believe that this was really England- it looked like Sydney and Phuket combined! I think these pictures say it all.
Yes, this is England. And yes, this isn’t the Summer. And yes, the day did start off with clouds and rain and hail and doom and gloom and a dark witch village in the middle of a wet forest….. but it’s funny how things turn out!
Our final destination for the day lay on the other side of the massive mountain. The walk up itself was a killer but the view…. worth every step!
Once we reached the peak of the mountain, we were a bit confused as to where exactly Durdle Door (what we called Mr Durdle’s door) was. We asked a man where it was and he claimed it was down the other side of the hill. We asked if we should just go back to the car and drive to the closer car park. He said that was a lazy option and eventually walked away.
Down we go!
30 minutes later and we had reached it! And what a spectacle it was! A little piece of heaven.
To finish off the day we indulged in some double scoop ice cream cones laughing about how the day had turned out. Even the drive back home brought more surprises as we passed fields of yellow flowers!
Looking back on our adventure, I am so glad we persisted in the hunt for what we wanted. Even though the day wasn’t looking so great at the start and everyone was warning us, I love that we found what we wanted. If you really seek and believe you will find some treasure, you will get there!
Traveling is always full of surprises, some pleasant, some annoying and some you just have to deal with! But at the end of the day, it’s not the weather or the location or your circumstances that dictate what your adventure will be like.
"If you come to a fork in the road, take it." -Yogi Berra
4 thoughts on “England’s Best Kept Secret”
Loved reading that blog Ady. Glad you got to visit some of my homeland…. the south coast of UK is quite beautiful… although I agree that if the weather is crappy, it can make things all look a bit “non”. But glad the sun came out for you.
We’ve been to all those places! We sat in that same little cafe at Corfe having tea and scones in 2008. And Lulworth Cove is beautiful. Very crowded in summer in fact. We spent a day there after watching jousting at Lulworth Castle. Just over the hill is a spot where the sea comes in through a couple if caves which we did rock climbing in the cave then jumped into the sea. So much fun!
I love your blog! Especially this one, as an English girl in Australia I’ve been constantly trying to prove that England does have some spectacular beaches and isn’t all just doom and gloom! Having said that I would choose the Australian weather over ours any day, but I guess it just makes you appreciate the sun all that more! x
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