Tuesday, December 18, 2012
If someone asked you to choose a tour of any region of England, which one would you pick? That question was recently posed to me, and in selecting an area to visit, I came across an itinerary that included a destination called Durdle Door in Dorset. It sounded like something straight out of Alice in Wonderland. I had to go.
Last weekend I traveled on a three-day tour of southwest England compliments of Rabbie’s, a Scottish tour operator that has recently started offering small group tours of England. Their South West Highlights tour included stops at Stonehenge, Bath, Exeter, Glastonbury, and Tavistock, as well as visits to Dartmoor National Park and the Dorset Coast.
The last of these was the first place we went after Stonehenge. We started in Lulworth, a small seaside village full of pretty thatched roof cottages and quaint cafes and restaurants. Along the high street ran a stream with colorful boats in it, and at the end was a beautiful cove with a pebble beach.
Even in the winter Lulworth lured visitors to its shops and shores, which were buzzing when we arrived.
My tour group consisted of me and two Australian university students, and the three of us stopped at the Dandelion Cafe Bistro for a quick lunch of bangers and mash before exploring the town and the cove.
Afterwards we hopped back on the van, a shiny new vehicle driven by Kevin, our guide for the trip. He drove us up a hill to Durdle Door, which, as it turns out, was not a location from a fairytale, but a naturally formed rock arch on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.
Despite being real, Durdle Door could have come out of a fantasy. The stunning cliffs, the long sandy beaches, and the beautiful limestone arch were exactly what I least expected to find in England.
In fact, the warmth of the winter day, the clear blue skies, and the spectacular rocky coastline made me feel like I was back in California. Maybe I had fallen down the rabbit hole after all.
But I didn’t mind. The atmosphere was enough to make me want to stay in Wonderland—er, Durdle Door and the Dorset Coast—forever. But the tour had an itinerary and I had to follow it, and off we went to the next stop: Exeter. To be continued…