Destination UK

Our favourite beaches for Fossil Hunting in Dorset

Posted on
January 31, 2017

You are probably thinking I am mad talking about fossil hunting during the winter months, but it is the perfect time of year for it, as stormy weather churns up the beaches exposing the fossils from the rocks and the cliffs.

Dorset is famous for being the home of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site which stretches from Studland Bay in Dorset westwards towards Exmouth in East Devon, a distance of approximately 96 miles.

The coastline features outstanding geology with parts dating back over 185 million years. For this reason it is a hotbed for fossil hunting with hundreds of specimens having been unearthed from the cliffs and beaches, but not every beach along this stretch of coastline is good for fossil hunting.


When fossil hunting, it is really important to follow the Fossil Hunting Code to ensure the safety of your party, check the tide times as it is best to go fossil hunting during an ebbing or low tide to give your more time to explore and also check the weather conditions.

Fossil Hunting Charmouth

I would also recommend you take the following equipment:

  • Tide times book – to see when it is safe to fossil hunt
  • Sturdy plastic bags to put fossils in
  • Old newspaper to wrap up delicate finds
  • Mobile phone
  • Camera
  • Safety glasses and geological hammer (optional – you can hire these at Charmouth Heritage Centre)
  • A notebook and pen to record your finds

I have three favourite fossil hunting beaches in Dorset:

Charmouth & Lyme Regis
Perfect for beginners, Charmouth and Lyme Regis are world famous for fossil collecting and you have an excellent chance of finding fossils loose on the beaches in this area.

I highly recommended you visit the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre before you start your search as they are a mine of useful information and show you what to look out for and where to find it. They even have a video microscope available for you to examine your fossil finds and during school holidays and on some weekends, they also run guided fossil hunting walks for a small additional charge.

Charmouth
We always look for fossils trapped between boulders and among pebbles on the beach and once you know what you are looking for they are really easy to find.

Lyme Regis
Kimmeridge Bay
Kimmeridge Bay is famous for its fossil finds which regularly fall from the unstable rock face and its unique geology means that it is home to many interesting marine creatures. It is here you walk along huge rocks and literally see huge ammonites appear under your feet.

Kimmeridge
It is important to remember that the cliffs are very unstable here, so it is advised that you do not search for fossils on or near them and you are not allowed to use hammers to crack stones, or take any finds home with you.

Kimmeridge is also one the best places in Dorset to go rock pooling and has a recently opened Etches Collection Museum where you can see the fossils you have found brought to life with huge CGI projections on the ceiling of the building.

EtchesCollection
Lulworth Cove
A short walk around Lulworth Cove, which is worth a visit for its perfect horse shoe shape in itself, you can visit the dramatic Fossil Forest, the petrified remains of a Cypress forest growing in a swamp on the edge of a warm lagoon in the Jurassic period.

LulworthFossilForest
It is a great walk for children and mine were fascinated by the rock formations, the fossil forest, as well as the chance to play on the shingle beach with its limestone and chalk spurs and boulders.

Lulworth Cove
If visiting Lulworth, it is also worth mentioning that the spectacular Durdle Door is just a 5 minute drive away (or an hours hilly walk if you are feeling energetic), so well worth a visit too.

Durdle Door
Have you been fossil hunting before and lucky enough to find anything?

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16 Comments
  1. Reply

    Sarah

    January 31, 2017

    Lovely Post. Reading this bring peace om my mind. Very Interesting writing. Outstanding photography as usual. Thanks Kara, for sharing this:)

  2. Reply

    Mellissa Williams

    January 31, 2017

    I remember going fossil hunting with my son in the Isle Of Wight but haven’t been to Dorset to so this. A very useful list for fossil hunting beginners and I didn’t know there was a fossil hunting code!

  3. Reply

    Sonia

    January 31, 2017

    I used to love fossil hunting when I was little, I don’t think we have ever done it with mine though so we really must add it to our list of to dos. I really want to visit Dorset soon x

  4. Reply

    Talya

    January 31, 2017

    We love to fossil hunt too and Dorset has some incredible beaches for it – a lovely round up.

  5. Reply

    Jen

    January 31, 2017

    I live on The North East coast and our local beach is great for finding fossils. There is something rather magical about finding them, and I know children find it fascinating.

  6. Reply

    five little doves

    January 31, 2017

    I have some amazing childhood memories of fossil hunting down in dorset, and some amazing fossils to show for it!

  7. Reply

    Jo

    January 31, 2017

    Looks like a great day out for the children! And what a gorgeous setting!

  8. Reply

    MELANIE EDJOURIAN

    January 31, 2017

    I’ve never been fossil hunting before but it does sound like great fun and I am sure my little ones would really get excited about going.

  9. Reply

    Mary Louise

    February 1, 2017

    I love Lulworth cove, in the summer it is like being abroad! Beautiful beach.
    I have never been fossil hunting but my Daughter who is nearly Five loves to put a pair of afety glasses on and hammer away at materials. I think we would really love to try it as a family activity.

  10. Reply

    Sara-Jayne

    February 2, 2017

    We used to fossil hunt when I was little but we have yet to go in fossil hunting season with the boys – I’m taking note of your beaches though!

  11. Reply

    Lisa Backsnbumps

    February 2, 2017

    We went fossil hunting in Charmouth and had a great time. Must take the kids again.

  12. Reply

    Moderate Mum

    February 2, 2017

    How exciting, I didn’t even know this was a thing! Would be a great trip for my dinosaur mad Godson x

  13. Reply

    Kerry Norris

    February 2, 2017

    I’ve never thought to go fossil hunting with my girls. Will have to try it x

  14. Reply

    Don

    April 10, 2017

    Great post! Thank you for sharing this. I’ve never been to Dorset, but it sounds and looks incredible, and like a fossil hunters dream. I recently took my 2 young children on their first fossil hunting trip along the Oregon coast just north of California. So many fossils found, but i dont think it compares to Dorset! Excited to visit someday. Thanks again!

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KARA GUPPY
Bournemouth

Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog chelseamamma.co.uk