Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

The weather forecast is becoming increasingly important to me. When you’re painting at the coast visibility is key if you want to see those distant peninsulas, so the promise of 2 clear days was irresistible. Having painted in Devon recently I wanted to move East into Dorset, to Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove. The forecast was spot on, I left Bristol at 7:30am with the car full of painting gear, food and camping stuff. I’d booked into a local campsite right on the coast so could get an early start on day two.

Day 1

I Started at Lulworth cove in the glorious sun. It was already busy when I got there with families on the beach and boat rides departing up the coast. I had a good walk around, looking for an angle. I’m incredibly fussy when it comes to finding a spot, everything has to line up to provide a composition that I think is worth painting. The blue boat on the beach looked good, it was absolutely glowing in the sun and the two men painting the hull told me that it wasn’t going anywhere soon. I felt a little close to it while stood on the beach, so retreated to the hill above and got a perfect spot.



The sun had started to swing around by the time I had finished the boat painting so I headed up Dungy Head to get a view looking back at Lulworth Cove. The path is very steep and not made any easier by having 20kg on your back! I kept stopping on the way up (to check the view) and eventually settled on a decent height that let me look down into the cove. Those two boats in the water just made it. Lovely.


It was lunchtime (no, not nap time) after the first two paintings so I found a nice spot to eat my half stale, half soggy sandwiches. I chatted to some lovely people while enjoying the view before continuing down the West side of Dungy Head and down to Durdle Door. I hadn’t been to Durdle Door since I was 17 and I had forgotten how dramatic it is, helped in no small part to the divine weather. I spotted a bird of prey on the walk down and snapped a pic (not sure which one, help please)



The light was warming up as the sun was dropping which leant an orange tint to the chalk cliffs. I set up and got to work with a good audience and had some nice chats.



I was pretty tired after this third piece, so called it a day. Walking back up to the campsite, I spied this rather incredible trike-thingy in the car park. Amazing!



Dinner was served in the form of a mediocre burger, fries and onion rings, washed down with some quality beer. I walked up to the cliff top to consume this styrofoam-encapsulated feast and watch the sun go down.




The campsite was lovely, with tent spots scattered amongst pine trees. I brought a duvet with me, but forgot pillows. Darn. I’d love to say I had a wonderful nights sleep, but there were some people having a very sweary, heated argument about 40 feet from my tent and it sounded like things were being thrown. I finally got to sleep around 4:30am so was not a happy bunny.


Day 2

I woke up feeling rough, but got going quickly after some awesome porridge cooked on the camp stove. Coffee was drunk, tent packed away and car moved up to the cliff parking where I walked up about 50 feet and set up on the path for the first one of the day. The morning sun was hitting Durdle Door, casting a beautiful shadow on the water and cliff. Irresistible.


I was so taken with the view I got out a 12 x 10″ and did another.


Lunch comes around quick when you’re working hard, so it was time to stop and eat an even staler and even more soggy sandwich. And a Twix. I hadn’t actually painted the arch yet, so walked down to Durdle Door and then up the incredibly steep Western cliff path. The sight from the top was about as perfect a view as you’ll find anywhere in England I think. Stunning.



I really wanted to paint it all in one, but needed either a 16 x 12″ or 14 x 12″ board and seeing as I had neither, I opted for two seperate 16 x 7″ paintings. This also meant I could cope with any light change over time as the sun was descending quickly, thus changing the colour temps.



I wish I could have stayed until sunset as it was clearer than the day before but I had to get back to Bristol. I met a lovely chap while doing the second painting who kindly took this picture.


All in all this was one of my favourite painting trips. I really feel at home painting these views and am surprised I never thought to come down here earlier. Plenty more coastal paintings to come, weather dependant. I can’t wait.

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