Having emigrated from my home county of Dorset to the mean streets of London many years ago I have now reached an age with a family of my own where I am rediscovering the delights of this beautiful county. The Dorset coast is one of the most dramatic and inspiring places in the UK and I have many memories of wild youthful adventures here. I'm delighted I can now relive it all with my son in tow.
Dispatches from Dorset
One of my favourite Dorset destinations is Lulworth Cove. This exquisite horseshoe bay, a magnificent geological quirk, is a four year old's dream; soaring cliffs, hidden pathways, magical rockpools and crystal clear waters complete with yachts bobbing gently in the waves. It's a picture postcard spot.
The height of summer makes for a very busy beach experience - there is a huge carpark but it can still be a struggle to find a space. Visiting in the spring or late autumn is far more rewarding as you have the whole place to yourself. The cove itself is rocky so good beach shoes are a must for little feet - especially if they're like mine and enjoy scrambling like mountain goats. Crabbing in the rockpools is a favourite family pastime (a little tip - limpits make the ideal bait and here they are in bountiful supply). Crablines, fishing nets and other beach paraphernalia can be purchased fairly reasonably from the various tourist shops en route to the cove.
There is a little food kiosk by the beach but this is a little pricey so if the holiday vibe has scuppered picnic organisation, head back to the carpark area for the excellent fish and chips. For dessert there's a tiny chocolate box cottage, appropriately named The Doll's House, which is now a sweet shop with a mind boggling array of Dorset fudge.
If you're feeling energetic, the steep path from the car park takes you over to Durdle Door and Man O War Bay. The perilous gradient of the pathway may put you off (and it is very steep!) but luckily there is another, less travelled path on the other side of the hill with a much more gentle incline for little legs. This all forms part of the South West Coast Path so you can walk along the cliffs for miles or clamber down to the beach and appreciate the wonders of Durdle Door and the view across to Portland. It's a great place to swim and the kids can paddle safely in the surf. Further down the beach you'll find some tiny caves which make for realistic pirate hunting. And this being the Jurassic coast, don't forget to look for your dinosaur fossils!
When the sun is shining on this part of the world you can't really ask for a more perfect family day out.
Stay in a holiday cottage near Lulworth Cove>