Any ideas for days out in Dorset?

Even the street lights in Lyme Regis are Jurassic (photo by Susannah Grant CC-BY)

Even the street lights in Lyme Regis are Jurassic (photo by Susannah Grant CC-BY)

On the south coast of England, Dorset is famous for its evocative landscapes as described in Thomas Hardy’s Wessex novels. There are beautiful beaches and the famous Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site stretching from Purbeck to Lyme Regis. The seaside resorts of Bournemouth and Poole, and the timeless countryside with its tiny villages and busy market towns.

A great day for all the family is a visit to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. In a relatively short distance, the coast covers the geological time period of the entire Mesozoic era from the Triassic to Cretaceous, over 250 million years. It is world famous for its fossils.

You do not have to be an expert to find them. The best place to go is the beach between Charmouth and Lyme Regis and walk along the shore line at the bottom of the crumbling cliffs. You’ll soon be finding fossils from the Jurassic period: ammonites, belemites and even ichthyosaurs. Visit the nearby Charmouth Heritage Coast Center to see displays of the many fossils found nearby. Why not join a group with an experience guide who will help you find even more fossils. When fossil hunting, keep an eye on the tides, and do not climb the cliffs.

A short distance along the Dorset coast is Lulworth Cove and the Durdle Door sea arch. Formed by the action of the sea eroding the softer rocks behind the hard Portland Limestone cliffs, it is a beautiful, shell-shaped cove with beaches protected from the rough seas. A delight for families.

Visit Abbotsbury Swannery. This famous colony has hundreds of mute swans. None are tagged or clipped. They are completely free. Established in the 1040s by monks as a swan farm, it is now a great tourist spot. It is open from March to November, and on a visit in mid-May to late June you will see hundreds of fluffy cygnets. On a day’s visit, get there at the right time and you can watch the mass feeding of up to 600 swans at 12 noon and 4.00pm every day.

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