Stretching 95 scenic miles from Exmouth in East Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset, England's Jurassic Coast is rich with history, charm, and traditional sights, sounds, and tastes. Thatched cottages line narrow country lanes, coastal hamlets and fishing villages gaze peacefully over the English Channel, bright red phone & mail boxes pop in the most unexpected places, fish & chip shops ooze the smell of salt & vinegar, bright-coloured beach huts line seaside promenades, livestock of all kinds freely graze on glorious green hillsides, and ole English pubs and tea rooms are a plenty. It's a true joy, I tell ya. Now, let me show you!
Here's a little history about this part of the world from the Jurassic Coast's dedicated website:
The layers of sedimentary rock along the Jurassic Coast can be read like a book. They reveal the history of Earth across 185 million years and form a near complete record of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. Exploring this immense story takes us on a walk through time across deserts, tropical seas, ancient forests and lush swamps, recorded in rock and laid out along the 95 mile stretch of coast between Exmouth in East Devon and Studland Bay in Dorset. Discover the Highlights of a Walk Through Time here.
It is a site of outstanding international importance for Earth Science. For this reason the Dorset and East Devon Coast - the Jurassic Coast - was designated as England's first natural World Heritage Site in 2001.
And now for my favourite spots on the Jurassic Coast. Feel free to share your favourite places in the comments below :)
1. Durdle Door
The walk down to the 'door' is quite steep and as it was quite busy, I opted for the easier and less crowded hilltop view:
Here I was looking down towards Durdle Door from the East while hiking the South West Coast Path towards Lulworth Cove:
Weymouth has many good sides and it's worth your time to explore. The colourful Harbour was a highlight for me.
Portland, and more specifically Portland Bill, is the most Southerly point on the Jurassic Coast. Portland Bill Lighthouse is a great spot to stretch your legs, have a wander, and grab a bite from the 'Lobster Pot' restaurant. They serve lovely food from cream teas to sandwiches to fish & chips, all with a smashing sea view. Worth a visit!
Portland hosted the 2012 Olympic Sailing competitions, so you can stop off for a nice view of the Olympic rings overlooking the town and Chesil beach.
4. Chesil Beach
Running a massive 29KM from end to end, Chesil Beach is a bit of a marvel. We stopped to photograph it in Abbotsbury, shown here:
5. Hive Beach
A traditional pebble beach with really easy access from the main road, tons of parking, and a beach front cafe, Hive Beach is hard to pass up.
6. West Bay
This little gem of a seaside market town is full of charm. I recommend eating fish & chips by Bridport Harbour or heading to the beachfront Watch House Cafe for some fresh stone-baked pizza. Lovely.
7. Eype's Mouth
We had the pleasure of camping up the hill from Eype. The coastal cliffs were filled with wildflowers in mid-May during our trip, and the dramatic clouds made for some really cracking scenery.
8. Lyme Regis
Lyme Regis has a great seaside feel. There is lots of parking by the Marina and some great pubs and cafes within short walking distance. I had a cream tea with my folks on the beachfront and it was just glorious!
A sweet little village and a great long beach for wandering aimlessly. I saw a 4ft jellyfish swimming here, so I wouldn't dangle my feet but there is a tea room on the waterfront to wet your whistle.
10. Ladram Bay
This idyllic Bay includes a pebble beach and towering sea-stacks in all directions. You can join the South West Coast Path here or just relax in the ocean-view cafe and enjoy a meal, a drink and a lovely view.
Note: a Holiday Park owns this land and it's open to all for a $5 parking charge. It's worth it in my opinion.
11. Jacob's Ladder
I almost stopped my list at 10 after cutting a couple of other places out (like Beer, which you should still visit) but I couldn't not mention Jacob's Ladder.
I really enjoyed strolling through Connaught Gardens while listening to the thrash of the vibrant crashing waves against the rocks below. There is (of course) a tea room here as well, so you can have your cake and eat it :)