Small coastal village Charmouth is a popular gateway to the Jurassic Coast. Famous for its amazing fossils, Charmouth was visited by Jane Austen who claimed that the village was ‘the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide, for sitting in unwearied contemplation’. Its beaches are surrounded by fossil cliffs, and shops sell a wide selection of gifts and souvenirs including fossils to take home. The cliffs are a mecca for fossil hunters. Just walking along the beach you’ll stumble across fossils – if you know what you’re looking for. Visit the Heritage Coast Visitor Centre at Charmouth to find out more on the types of fossils you can expect to find in the area.
The West Dorset coast around Lyme Regis is the birthplace of the sciences of geology and palaeontology. The regular landslips and erosion expose fossils that have been lying in the rocks for millions of years. Mary Anning, a local lady, unearthed many fossils which led to the establishment of scientific study to find out more about how the Earth was formed and how animal life evolved.
Charmouth’s restaurants are rich in local produce, and the village contains relaxing tearooms set in beautiful country gardens. Charter boats offer the opportunity to go fishing off the Jurassic Coast, and fossil hunting is allowed on the beaches as long as pavements and cliffs aren’t damaged. If you’re looking to stay in Charmouth, accommodation options are varied and plentiful. Choose a Charmouth hotel or a B&B, or opt for a family friendly holiday park or a self-catering cottage.
Heritage Coast Centre
The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre sits alongside the shingle beach and is where to head to find out about fossils and fossil hunting in the area, as well as the local coastal and marine wildlife. Interactive computers, displays and films are available as well as wardens who are on hand to answer queries. The wardens also organise regular guided fossil hunting expeditions, rockpooling walks and countryside and marine discovery activities. The Centre promotes the sustainable collection of fossils and you’ll find plenty of advice on fossil collecting inside. Ample parking is adjacent and a cafe is onsite.