Purbeck Coast

Introduction

This area lies between Swanage and Weymouth. It includes some stunning paddling beneath the limestone cliffs of the Jurassic coast.

Times of high water

Swanage: High water is 2 hours and 35 minutes before high water at Dover (Sp) 1 hours and 20 minutes after high water at Dover (Np)

Weymouth: High water is at high water at Portland

Tidal streams

Tidal streams are significant inshore between Peveril Point at the south end of Swanage Bay and the St. Albans head area. Streams are weaker west of here, becoming minimal in Weymouth Bay.

Swanage Bay: Streams are weak. They set round the bay in the direction of streams on the points.

Peveril Point: The north north-east going stream begins at 5 hours after high water at Dover. The south south-west going stream begins at 2 hours and 15 minutes before high water at Dover. The north north-east going stream reaches a speed of 1.5 knots at springs. The south south-west going stream reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. An overfall forms across the Peveril Ledges for most of the tidal cycle, which can be an ideal training spot. You may wish to communicate with the Coastwatch station which overlooks the Ledges.

Eddies near Peveril Point: Eddies form behind Peveril Point

Durlston Head: The north-east going stream begins at 5 hours and 30 minutes after high water at Dover. The south-west going stream begins at 30 minutes before high water at Dover. The flow reaches a speed of 3 knots at springs. A race forms, with a back eddy.

Weymouth Bay: In Weymouth bay and near the Harbour the streams are weak, less than half a knot.

St. Alban's Head: The east going stream begins at 5 hours and 45 minutes after high water at Dover. The west going stream begins at 15 minutes before high water at Dover. The flow reaches a speed of 4.7 knots at springs. A large race with big waves can form, massive on springs. The largest waves can be avoided inshore, but there is a back eddy. At springs, the period without overfalls rarely exceeds half an hour.

On the west side of St. Alban's head: The tide flows south constantly.

Around a mile offshore Lulworth Cove: The east going stream begins at 1 hours before high water at Portland. The west going stream begins at 5 hours after high water at Portland. The east going stream reaches a speed of 1.6 knots at springs. The west going stream reaches a speed of 1.7 knots at springs.

Inshore stream between Kimmeridge and Weymouth: The east going stream begins at 3 hours before high water at Portland. The west going stream begins at 3 hours after high water at Portland. The east going stream reaches a speed of 1.1 knots at springs. The west going stream reaches a speed of 1.4 knots at springs.

Notes

Kimmeridge Ledges: A reef extends a kilometre out to sea. Avoid in swell.

Broad Bench: A reef extends from Broad Bench to the west of Kimmeridge Bay. Give this a wide berth.

Lulworth range: Range office 01929 404819. The range runs from the west end of Kimmeridge bay nearly to Lulworth cove. Landing is permitted in the inter-tidal zone, but do not go inland. See the firing times.

Access/Egress

Between Swanage and Weymouth, good options for access and egress are limited.

Swanage Monkey Beach: (SZ 034 787) g Drop kayaks beside the pier and park at the car park just uphill.

Swanage Beach: (SZ 031 795) g Roadside parking fills up quickly during the morning in summer - aim to be early.

Kimmeridge Bay: (SY 909 790) g Large car park. Private toll road, possibly avoidable early in the morning! If surf, stay out back until a clear route in can be seen.

Lulworth Cove: (SY 825 800) g Lulworth is a very busy tourist destination, although there is a large and expensive car park. It is possible to drop boats near the beach before leaving cars in the car park. However, this is only permitted outside the hours of 10 am to 6 pm, May to September.

Ringstead: (SY 751 813) g Car park set back from the sea and a cafe

Weymouth Bay, Bowleaze: (SY 703 819) g Large pay and display car parks, with height barrier, by pebble beach.

Weymouth North: (SY 699 817) g Two car parks, one at a holiday resort, which may have a height barrier. The other is smaller by a cafe.

Weymouth Harbour: (SY 677 790) g Launch at council slipway, park on commercial road.

Suggested trips

Lulworth: Durdle door, Lulworth Cove and the area between may be the highlights of this area, but there is much to see along the rest of the coastline nearby. If possible, avoid launching at busy Lulworth Cove, and paddle from Kimmeridge or Weymouth instead.

West from Swanage: The paddle west from Swanage is somewhat committing, but certainly worthwhile. Tidal streams run close inshore and any swell would create challenging conditions. Dancing Ledge makes a good lunch stop if you can land. Good as an out and back paddle from Swanage or with a shuttle to Kimmeridge.

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