Jurassic Coast area guide
The Jurassic Coast, officially called the Dorset and East Devon Coast world heritage site, is a 95 mile stretch of coastline, cliffs and beaches. It is recognised as England’s first natural world heritage site because of its geological significant depicting history through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous years.
Stretching between Dorset and Exmouth, Devon the Jurassic coastline represents over 200 million years worth of geology and history. The Jurassic coast is recognised as an area of outstanding beauty and geological significance, whether for the breathtaking views, the fascinating fossil finds or the birds and wildlife (including dolphins and puffins), and is a fantastic destination for any type of holiday or short break.
Things to do
There are several beaches and bays that make up the geologically diverse Jurassic coast line and they can be reached and explored through a number of transports.
On foot: One of the best ways to explore the Jurassic coast is to follow the South West Coastal Path which follows the entire coast line and runs in full from Studlan Bay, Dorset to Minehead, Somerset. The views on this route are stunning and you can take time to stop and explore areas and beaches at your leisure. The path is simple to follow and acorn symbols will guide your way. There is a local network of footpaths which link onto the coastal path to make circular walks possible. Guided walks and tours are regularly run all year round by local museums and visitor centres; details of which can be found at tourist information centres along the coast.
By boat: There is a wide range of boat trips to chose from and they can be joined at Exmouth, Beer, Lyme Regis, West Bay, Weymouth & Portland, Lulworth Cove, Swanage, Wareham, Poole and Bournemouth. It is worth checking the details of the boat trips before you travel to find out the times and specifics of the cruises.
On bike: As the footpaths are marked along the coastline so are cycle routes, a map from a visitor centre will enable you to pick a route that's suitable for you.
By bus: Whilst the coast bus service does not allow you to see all of the coast up close it does allow you to view some of the beautiful surrounding areas. Bus stops are located at several points along the coast, pick up a bus timetable from your local tourist centre before setting off.
By coach: For a more guided tour of the Jurassic coast line book onto a coach tour that can take the hassle away from arranging the stop offs yourself. The coaches can arrange pick up from your Hotel/Hostel and will take you on a tour of the coastline pointing out sights you might miss doing the trip yourself. The tour will take you sightseeing to six of the historical bays and coves.
Prices range from £22 for under 16s to £30 for full paying adults (under 5s go free)
The Jurassic Coast is accessible through several Gateway towns and villages which not only provide access to the coastal areas but also have a range of accommodation, museums and visitor centres. These gateway towns are destinations in their own right. Fairlynch Museum in Budleigh Salterton, Honiton Museum in and Lyme Regis Museum are all worth visiting on your tour of the villages if you are keen to know more about the history and geology behind the Jurassic coastline and to look at some of the impressive fossil finds.
The Jurassic Coast is well know for its fossils which showcase the earth's history over the last 200 million years. Lyme Regis and Charmouth are known to be two of the best places to find fossils along the Jurassic coast line.
There are some basic guidelines to follow when looking for fossils:
• The best time to hunt for fossils is during the winter months after the rough seas have washed away soft mud/clays
• Only collect small and loose fossils that are washed up on the beach or hidden between rocks do not dig into or collect from the cliffs
• Take care when hunting between rocks as the may be slippery and some areas around the cliff falls can be dangerous
• Take care when hunting around rock pools that you return back to the safety of the beach before the tide comes in or you get cut off.
• Finally, if you think you find an important fossil contact the World Heritage Team to register it.
Tourist and information centres:
Budleigh Salterton Tourist Information Centre - Fore Street, Budleigh Salterton, Devon EX9 6NG
Lyme Regis Tourist Information Centre - Church Street, Lyme Regis DT7 3BS
Poole Welcome Centre - Poole Tourism, Enefco House, Poole Quay, Poole, Dorset BH15 1HJ
Ottery St Mary Tourist Information Centre - 10a, Broad Street, Ex11 1BZ
Seaton Tourist Information Centre - The Underfleet, Harbour Road, Seaton, Devon, EX12 2TB
Exmouth Tourist Information Centre - Alexandra Terrace, Exmouth, Devon EX8 1NZ