Durdle Door in the moonlight, Dorset, England. Captured late evening as the moonlight flooded through the rock's archway. The long exposure has also produced some nice star trails to the right of the arch. Durdle door is one of the many stunning locations to visit on the Jurassic coast in southern England.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Durdle Door is a natural limestone rock arch that was carved out 10,000 years ago by the sea. It’s one of the many, and possibly the most famous sights to see on the Jurassic Coast.

Evening view of Durdle Door beach from the cliff, Dorset, England.

Stretching 95 miles along the Dorset and Devon coast, the Jurassic Coast is a stunning piece of land that is a natural museum literally recording 185 million years of the planet’s history within its geology. It’s so precious that it has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are many great locations along this coast for photography, but for today we are going to look at Durdle Door.

The rock is part of the Lulworth Estate, and is not only a world famous landmark, but also a popular holiday resort. The Durdle Door Holiday Park lies at the top of the cliff. In order to visit the rock you need to drive through the holiday park to the pay and display car park behind it. From there it’s a ten minute walk to the beach. Or you can park at Lulworth Cove and walk the coastal hiking path from there.

Man O’ War Cove

The rising moon casting beautiful moonlight over Man O’ War Cove.

As you approach the first sight you will see is the Man O’ War Cove on your left. Durdle Door sits between here and St Oswald’s Bay. Steps lead down the cliffsides to each beach, although the steps to Durdle Door were washed away a few years during a massive storm. So you might have to make your way down the grassy slopes. But it’s not too difficult.

Sunset in spring, when the sun goes down over the sea

It’s a great place to photograph at any time of the year, but the prime time is from September to March, when the sun moves further south and sets out at sea. Throughout the summer the sun sets over the land. But there are still photography possibilities such as these:

Durdle Door beach in July as the sun disappears over the cliffs, Dorset, England.

Durdle Door in the moonlight, Dorset, England. Captured in July late evening as the moon rose over the arch and moonlight flooded through the rock’s archway.

Best moment for soft light on the arch

There is a small window of opportunity when the setting sun is in just the right position to cast soft warm light on the front of the arch as it hits the sea. This happens in spring and autumn. You have to catch it in autumn just as it moves south from setting over the land. But this only lasts a couple of weeks, then it moves too far south and the light falls on the back of the rock. In spring when it comes back northwards there is another short opportunity before it begins to set over the land. To work out when this happens, use the photographers ephemeris (TPE).

The late afternoon sun in spring casts a warm glow over Durdle Door rock arch and beach, Dorset, England.


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It’s not all about the arch though

As I said, this entire coastline is stunning, so don’t forget to look around you because there are great photos to be made everywhere.

View across the cliffs to Bats Head from the cliffs above Durdle Door beach as the sun goes down for the evening.

The Big dipper (Ursa Major) constellation on a moonlit light at Durdle Door beach.

Great for blue hour shots too.

Close up of Durdle Door as the last wisp of light disappears over the horizon at dusk.


Durdle Door in the evening with the rising moon above it.


Close up of Durdle Door as the last wisp of light disappears over the horizon at dusk.

Try some close ups

A view through the Durdle Door arch as a cargo ship sails by in the distance.


Durdle Door in the moonlight.


Durdle Door in the moonlight.

Road Directions

Durdle Door is just west of West Lulworth on the B3070 which leaves the A352 (Wareham to Dorchester road) at Holmbridge.


I run regular weekend workshops on the Jurassic Coast. Click here for more details on how to join

For more photos of Durdle Door, check out my gallery here


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