Durdle Door

ROute Section Number 1:

Sandbanks to Weymouth

Britain’s newest and most exciting driving route, the SW660, starts with this inspiring drive through gorgeous unspoilt Dorset countryside. For 40 miles between Sandbanks and Weymouth it offers views of rolling green hills and sensational chalky seascapes. Don’t expect motorways – there’s barely a dual carriageway in this section.

Your Route

Where to start...

After the old chain ferry chugs across the entrance to Poole Harbour you’ll drive off into the Isle of Purbeck with a glorious selection of country roads ahead. Choose between faster routes inland or loops of leafy lanes closer to the coast for a more wiggly scenic tour.

Use sat nav and maps to detour to the best sights, like Lulworth Cove and Corfe Castle. It’s easy to drive down to tiny seaside spots like Ringstead and Kimmeridge Bay too – but note that they’re down tiny dead-end lanes so you’ll have to come back the same way.  

Corfe Castle
Durdle Door

Did you know?

An amazing 40% of Dorset is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. This route is entirely within the AONB and leads through the heart of the very best bits.

The Best Views

Corfe Castle’s romantic hilltop ruins provide one of Dorset’s most photogenic panoramas. Have smartphones ready, particularly at sunset. There are pretty walks in all directions and the chocolate-box village is full of traditional teashops and pubs.

Route Highlights

Poole Harbour and Studland

Hop onto a boat from Poole Quay or Sandbanks to see red squirrels on the National Trust’s Brownsea Island or simply park on the harbourside to gaze across the vast natural harbour. It’s always busy with watersporters.

A few yards away, the seafront beach is long, clean and sandy. Then admire the superhomes of the rich and famous as you drive through Sandbanks to the ferry. The four-minute crossing reaches Studland peninsula, a nature reserve of dunes and heath with another long sandy beach leading to the spectacular King Harry Rocks.

Recommended Detour

The Isle of Portland

The Isle of Portland is a geographical oddity, joined by the narrow strip of Chesil Beach pebbles to the resort of Weymouth – but very different. Driving across the causeway to Portland you enter a very different atmosphere. There’s an old red-and-while lighthouse overlooking some of the UK’s most turbulent seas and great walks along daunting cliffs. This hard white Portland Stone has been quarried for centuries to construct much of Westminster and St Pauls.

During your trip

Other potential detours

Visiting Swanage

At the far eastern end of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site this is a small, quiet and rather nostalgic seaside resort. Nearby Spyway Dinosaur Footprints is not as well known as it should be and is well worth a visit.

Visiting Lulworth

You can find some of England’s most dramatic shoreline scenery along the Jurassic Coast at Lulworth. Stop here for a chance to explore the unique circular Cove itself and Durdle Door’s famous rock archway.

Visiting Weymouth

Good old Weymouth is a chance to discover all the familiar ingredients of a classic British seaside resort: a flat golden sandy beach with a long promenade, donkeys and Punch & Judy.

Dorchester & Poundbury

If you stay on the A352 and don’t turn down to Weymouth, the road curves inland to the heart of West Dorset. If you fancy the faster progress of the A35 heading west, the Dorchester makes a fine stopping point.

Go Exploring

Discover somewhere new

Fancy a walk away from the crowds? First find the car park at Renscombe near the quaint Purbeck village of Worth Matravers. Then stroll south across the grassy headland to find a completely unique and little-visited sight. The strange tiny Norman church of St Aldhelm is a square cube of stone and stands alone on the cliff edge, 354ft above the sea.

Featured accommodation

Staying in the area

  • Hotel

The Kings Arms Hotel

Described by the Mail on Sunday as a “jewel on the Dorset coastline”, this cosy boutique hotel is beautifully positioned on the banks of the River Avon, looking out to an immaculate bowling green, Norman-era castle ruins. Aside from the location, the hotel’s other main lure is its award-winning restaurant. Running the kitchen is former Michelin-starred Chef Patron Alex Aitken, one of the New Forest’s best-known and well-regarded chefs.
  • Hotel

Harbour Hotel Christchurch

Perched on the edge of Christchurch harbour many of the contemporary rooms look out across the water. The award-winning restaurant, The Jetty and the Upper Deck are both set within the hotel grounds beside the harbour and headed up by renowned Chef Patron Alex Aitken. There’s also a HarSPA for guests to relax in
  • Hotel

Knoll House Hotel

A few minutes’ walk from Studland Bay, you’ll find one of the most charming hotels in Dorset. Stroll the gardens, enjoy Afternoon Tea or stay and explore the natural beauty of this protected peninsula.
  • Self Catering

Original Cottages

Holidays are about finding those moments. Searching for secret coves. Exploring untrodden trails. Unearthing hidden secrets. Britain is full of awe-inspiring places with stories to tell. And at Original Cottages, we’re here to help you find them. Across the Southwest we have over 1600 properties to choose from so whether you’re looking for a coastal chic apartment for two, or a countryside retreat for the whole crew, we’ve got something truly local and perfect for you.
  • Hotel

The Pig – on the beach

THE PIG’s mellow yellow house situated along Studland Bay, truly rural, with uninterrupted views of the long stretches of Dorset’s sandy coastlines. Explore the Jurassic Coast, then hunker down at THE PIG-on the beach with characterful rooms, a walled Kitchen Garden, a sea view conservatory restaurant, Sheep’s Hut treatment rooms, a path down to the beach, our own beach hut, a herd of Dorset Horn sheep, roaring log fires and a fairy-tale gargoyle or two. Re-fuel your adventures with THE PIG’s 25-mile menu – what we cannot grow, rear or catch ourselves we source within 25 miles!

Featured Venues

Local Food & Drink

Local Experiences

Have Some Fun

The White Horse at Osmington

Enjoy this 4 mile AA recommended walk, with map and directions.

St Aldhelm’s Head and Worth Matravers

Enjoy this beautiful AA recommended 5 mile coastal walk with map and directions

Fore Adventure

Fore Adventure at Middle beach are one of Dorsets leading outdoor adventure providers, founded by Jade and Dan Scott in 2010 they have been hosting wild food adventures for over 12 years and are experts in their field. As featured on Channel 4, ITV, BBC and Sky. Take a trip to Old Harry Rocks with one of their signature Sea Kayaking or Stand Up Paddle Boarding tours, explore natures very own larder on a Fishing or Foraging event or discover your wild side on a Bushcraft, Rock climbing or Coasteering adventure.

Our Trusted Partners

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