Redcliff Point is a comparatively low-key spot on the Jurassic Coast between Weymouth and Ringstead Bay.
Here soft clay cliffs, overlaid with harder limestones, crumble into the sea over a narrow, rock-strewn beach on a regular basis - especially when conditions are particularly wet, particularly dry, particularly cold or particularly hot.
Being both on the South West Coast Path and within easy walking distance of Bowleaze Cove and Preston, an eastern suburb of Weymouth, the cliff tops here are frequented by Coast Path ramblers as well as many local dog walkers. Care is needed by both, as rapid erosion means that the cliff top is retreating inland at a rate measured in metres per year.
The cliffs here are predominantly of Jurassic clays, but although fossils may be found, there are better beaches for this at Kimmeridge to the East and Charmouth and Lyme Regis to the West. Although part of the Jurassic Coast, Redcliff does not share the same place in fossil hunting history as these world renowned locations.
The beach here is not much used by locals, not because they can’t, but simply because there are better beaches for swimming and sunbathing that are easier to get to and less affected by the tide and cliff falls. For sand and shingle beaches that are good for young kids, Weymouth is the place to go, while Ringstead offers an interesting alternative with easy parking and no crumbling cliffs to negotiate.
For those interested in the scenery, Redcliff lacks the chalky white magnificence of White Nothe and the stark natural beauty of Dancing Ledge, Durdle Door, or Portland Bill. These all offer the casual or committed walker more interesting coastal and sea views and are often less congested with other users than this section of the Coast Path can be due to its popularity with local urban dog walkers.
Those looking to walk this section of the South West Coast Path on its own can park at Bowleaze or at Osmington Mills.
Those walking the SWCP as a whole, from East to West, will reach Redcliff after already encountering more magnificent cliffs and coves to the East and before encountering the more rural coastal wilds to the West beyond Weymouth.
Many choose to skip this section of the SWCP altogether by taking the South West Coast Path’s alternate and more scenic route, which cuts inland at Osmington, just East of Redcliff, and follows the South Dorset Ridgeway via Abbotsbury to the Chesil Beach.
For many, Redcliff Point, will be a place to pass through rather than an objective in itself. That said, Redcliff was supposed to be one of the spots to which spectators for the 2012 Olympic Sailing events were going to throng. Although as it turned out, thronging was not something Olympic sailing spectators indulged in to any great degree!
Nevertheless, in readiness for that eventuality had it arisen, and to cater for the rapid inland march of the line of the cliff top (and the need for the Coast Path to do likewise in response). This was one of the first places designated under the Government’s new Coastal Access arrangements, meaning that anyone can (should they really wish to) come here at any time to walk and enjoy the view and the beach, if they can get down to it safely.
In essence, to save time and hassle having to move the line of the Coast Path every time part of it falls into the sea, the access land designation allows for the path to keep on moving inland over areas which already have public access. But beware, such designations are very clearly defined and come with restrictions for users, including the need to keep dogs under close control, not lighting fires and no camping!
Here soft clay cliffs, overlaid with harder limestones, crumble into the sea over a narrow, rock-strewn beach on a regular basis - especially when conditions are particularly wet, particularly dry, particularly cold or particularly hot."