Holidaying in Dorset is one of the best decisions you can make. From the scenery which inspired countless generations of artists, writers and poets to the stunning cultural attractions, unique architecture and amazing culinary experiences, there’s an endless ocean of possibilities in Dorset.
It’s why our Lyme holiday cottages are situated within spitting distance of the ‘Pearl of Dorset’, Lyme Regis.
Situated in the heart of the world-famous Jurassic Coast, Lyme Regis is a seaside resort and fishing port that’s been integral to Dorset life for centuries. Today, it retains its status as one of the most desirable holiday destinations in the country, a distinction it’s held for long before it became Jane Austen’s favourite holiday location.
Key to that success has been the Cobb, the man-made harbour that has become a world-famous attraction over the years. It helped transform Lyme Regis into a key harbour town, with the port more active than even Liverpool right up to the late 18th century! But what do you need to know about the Cobb?
The Cobb’s Mysterious Origins
The Cobb keeps its cards close to its (metaphorical) chest when it comes to its origins. Case in point? Nobody knows why it’s even called the Cobb. Indeed, nobody knows who commissioned or originally worked to build it either.
What we do know about the early history of the Cobb though is that there has been a structure on the site used to create a harbour since at least 1313.
The first known drawing of the Cobb originates over 200 years later in 1539, which shows a basic shape similar to that of the current construction, which was built after strong westerly gales had previously breached the breakwater. Further additions were added to the wall in 1756 when it was connected to the mainland and again in 1823 when the North Wall was constructed.
The Cobb’s Jane Austen Connection
Although most of Jane Austen’s novels avoided the mention of real place names, Austen’s love for Lyme Regis meant that the Cobb landed a starring role in her last novel, Persuasion.
For those who haven’t yet read it, spoilers are incoming. Ready?
Well, the novel reaches its dramatic peak as young Louisa Musgrove falls and cracks her head on the seawall.
The event in question appears in chapter 12 of Persuasion, in the passage “There was too much wind to make the high part of the new Cobb pleasant for the ladies, and they agreed to get down the steps to the lower, and all were contented to pass quietly and carefully down the steep flight, excepting Louisa; she must be jumped down them by Captain Wentworth. In all their walks, he had had to jump her from the stiles; the sensation was delightful to her.
The hardness of the pavement for her feet, made him less willing upon the present occasion; he did it, however. She was safely down, and instantly, to show her enjoyment, ran up the steps to be jumped down again. He advised her against it, thought the jar too great; but no, he reasoned and talked in vain, she smiled and said, “I am determined I will:” he put out his hands; she was too precipitate by half a second, she fell on the pavement on the Lower Cobb, and was taken up lifeless!”
What to Do at the Cobb?
Walking the Cobb today is as popular as it was in Jane Austen’s time and the incredible man-made structure remains a popular spot for tourists, with numerous cafes and restaurants located nearby, ideally placed to give you spectacular views out over the harbour.
Located along the wall itself is Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium, a wonderful local attraction which highlights the local marine animal and plant life which offers a hands-on learning experience for children and adults alike.
Why settle for land-based adventure though when the Cobb also plays host to a number of local fishing trip and rib ride operator, for an unforgettable day.