A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to go on a helicopter flight over the Jurassic coast, an amazing experience which I highly recommend.
Being just half an hour long, it didn’t go all the way along the 96 mile coastline, instead concentrating on the area heading east from Exmouth along the Lyme Bay coastline to Lyme Regis and Charmouth and back again.
We visit Lyme Regis and Charmouth fairly regularly but have never visited the Devon part of the Jurassic coastline which stretches as far as Orcombe Point near Exmouth so on a weekend break to Lyme Regis I was determined to visit some of the coastline I flew over and one of the first pieces of the coastline we saw was the beach at Beer.
Beer is a quaint and beautiful seaside town with narrow roads and picturesque houses which leads down to the beach.
The shingle beach at Beer boasts a small fleet of working fishing boats and the surrounding picturesque white chalk cliffs provide a natural suntrap sheltering the cove from prevailing westerly winds although we did visit on a stormy Autumnal day.
Give the kids a beach and they love to run, explore and play and the steep shingle bank made an excellent slide.
At the eastern end of the beach there is a small concrete pier that you can stand on to get great views over the next town along – Seaton.
The cliffs here are Cretaceous chalk cliffs but you can clearly see them change just beyond Seaton where the cliffs change from white to the older Triassic red rock cliffs.
After exploring for about an hour we decided to head round the corner to Seaton which we did by car as the coastal path was quite steep and slippery underfoot and you could not walk around the beach way.
Seaton is a larger town than Beer which also faces onto Lyme Bay and lies to the west of the mouth of the River Axe.
The kids loved clambering over the impressive sculptures on the promenade which invite spectators to consider the power of the sea and its relationship with the land.
There are two to admire – one saying “Waves shapes the shore” and the other saying “Shore shapes the waves”
Like Beer, the beach is shingle and as the weather took a turn for the worse we headed to the local fish and chip restaurant FryDays to shelter from the rain and enjoy a spot of lunch.
I was torn between heading west to Sidmouth or east to Charmouth but the kids were keen to try some fossil hunting so we decided upon Charmouth next which is around a 20 minute drive away.
I failed to check the tide times for our visit and it was high tide which made fossil hunting impossible, however, the women in the visitor centre were amazing. They showed the kids just what to look for on the beach, how to find it and even what the creatures would have looked like millions of years ago.
As the weather was stormy we were told the best places to look for fossils the next day as the waves would have churned up the beach and brought lots to the surface.
I don’t think I have ever seen the tide so high in Charmouth and the waves were licking the steps down to the shoreline. It didn’t stop Isaac from doing a spot of rock climbing though.
The weather wasn’t being particularly kind to us by now so we decided to pause our beach exploration and head back to Harcombe House where we were staying with a plan to go to Lyme Regis the next day.
What a difference a day makes to the weather – glorious sunshine and so warm we soon ditched our jumpers – not bad for November.
We parked in Charmouth Road car park (£2 for 24 hours) which looks across to Charmouth and Golden Cap – the highest point in Dorset and the kids were excitedly pointed out where we were yesterday. This time the tide was out and the sea nice and calm which made it the perfect day for fossil hunting.
Not sure fossil hunting was on the kids minds though, they were too busy exploring the shoreline and seeing what creatures they could spot.
Lyme Regis is famous for its historic Cobb and it and the harbour are iconic features, set against moody blue cliffs. The town is famous for its fossil finds and there are a number of museums and art galleries to visit if the beach gets too much.
I am always a little nervous walking along the Cobb with the kids as it isn’t fenced off, but they always insist on doing it anyway and thankfully Grandad was there to help too.
One of the buildings on the Cobb has even been converted to house a marine aquarium much to the kids delight.
Here is the view from the end of the Cobb!
Part of the beach at Lyme Regis is much like the rest of the Jurassic coast and is shingle, but by the harbour is a sandy spot where you can indulge in some sandcastle building.
We have by no means finished exploring the Jurassic coast but the helicopter flight with Red Letter Days has certainly inspired me to find new beaches to see.
These stunning red cliffs are Sidmouth in Devon which is next on my must visit list!
Have you visited Dorset or Devon – which is your favourite part of the coastline to visit?
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