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Dorset’s rocky coastline inspires minimalist Clifftops lodges

This coastal UK retreat is anchored into the cliffs atop an ancient stretch of Jurassic coast

clifftops dorset lodges
Laura Dean

Look back from the secluded Church Ope Cove on Dorset’s Isle of Portland and you’ll catch a glimpse of Clifftops, a cluster of five lodges that emerge as if organically from its craggy face. Below, the South West Coastal path winds its way along the green Jurassic coast.

To suggest that this idyllic spot is well protected would be an understatement.

The entire island is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Coast, and this stretch of rugged shoreline is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest. Even the estate’s own Pennsylvania Castle is Grade II listed. Suffice to say, any new developments here have to tread carefully.

clifftops dorset lodges
Jim Stephenson
clifftops dorset lodges
Jim Stephenson

London-based architecture firm Morrow + Lorraine was undeterred. ‘It was a fascinating place to work,’ says director J-J Lorraine, whose concept spoke of structures that would ‘appear hewn from the ground, rather than built upon it’.

Rough-cleaved slabs of the island’s indigenous stone were used to set the lodges into the cliff face, with panels of natural copper that will patinate over time.

clifftops dorset lodges
Jim Stephenson

The result is a coastal retreat firmly rooted in place – stepped walls separate each lodge like beach groynes, while picture windows maximise views and minimise reflections for boats at sea. Inside, interiors are pared back, with sleek oak joinery and walls in the same local stone.

Those who look closely might even find the odd fossil. Each lodge sleeps four, from £1,048 for a short break, thepennestate.co.uk

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