20/04/2019 – Burton Bradstock to West Bay

Click for 3D map of the walk – on laptop/desktop, click on 3D if needed and use Ctrl to manipulate the map and scroll to zoom in or out.


I didn’t leave until much later than I normally would and only arrived in Burton Bradstock around 9. Even then, I didn’t feel like setting off straight away but had a cup of coffee first instead. I had manage to park higher up on the grassy car park with the rear of the van offering a lovely view over the sea. I opened the rear gate and enjoyed the view, sipping my coffee, before putting on my walking boots and setting off.

I walked down towards the beach and then straight right again up on the cliff. I was astonished as to how much the cliffs here have changed compared to last time I was here quite a few years ago now. Such a lot has disappeared and in 2012 there was a cliff fall that even killed someone. Now there was barely any path left towards the top of the cliff and I had to climb over the fence to get somewhere. Once at the top the path just followed the cliff and was really flat, right up to the campsite just outside Burton Bradstock where the cliff and the path dip steeply. I knew that at the bottom there is a river and the path turns right, following the river for a while, until you come across a bridge. I decided to take a shortcut however and turned left, following the river towards the sea. I know that once on the beach, most of the river disappears under the beach and what is left is really shallow. I got wet feet anyway, but it’s fresh water so I didn’t worry about my boots and feet too much. It soon dried, by the time I readed the climb up the cliff the other side.

The beach is difficult to walk on as most of it is fine grit, but by following the tideline things were easier, until I had to climb up the steep slope on the beach to reach the foot of the cliff. Then the path rises steep up again until you arrive just at the top of the cliff above West Bay. Looking back now and again, the view was stunning but at the same time it was clear how high the cliffs are here. I could see Golden Cap in the distance, however, which is a different scale altogether. In places, the cliff looks really unstable here too, but the cliff path keeps a safe distance.

Once I reached the cliff over West Bay I had a wonderful view over the village with the little harbour with Bridport to the right. I could see Lyme Regis in the distance again, which is steadily getting closer and closer. I can also see the first bit of Devon in the distance.

By this time, there were a lot of people on the path and on the beach, probably because of the nearby campsite which was very busy. The path down was really steep with a lot of people on it with footwear that belonged on the beach. Once I arrived down I walked along the beach towards the east end of the harbour. I rested a bit on the wall, enjoying the view. I then decided to walk back along the beach, fully realising that the first bit wouldn’t be easy. It’s all grit and your feet sink into it with every step. I made my way towards the tideline and took in the stunning view of the repeating rythm of the cliffs rolling on towards Burton Bradstock.

The view from the bottom is very different. Looking up, you can see how the cliff face works and there was one very big rock fall half way back. Looking up you could see the hard and soft layers of the cliff, which made me wonder about how these layers came about. I noticed that underneath the rocks in the hard layer were these very intricate and interesting structures. In places it looked like opened up tunneling of some sea creature and in other places it looked like hard structures or harder fossils had dropped out. I wonder what they are but now being home, I can’t find any explanation on the web. If anyone knows i’d be very interested to hear what they are.

Getting closer to Burton Bradstock, I could see that the beach was now very busy. It was hot and the sun was bearing down already, even though it’s early on in the year. A lot of the way the beach is quite sandy but getting closer to Burton Bradstock, the gritty beach returns, which again makes walking more difficult. I was glad to get back to the van. I had lunch, enjoying the view, and then returned home again. Next time… West Bay to… at least Golden Cap I think. I just have to find free parking and i think that, from experience, I know just about where to go.