Rugged Jurassic Coast
Whether you’re heading out fossil hunting, taking up a guided tour, striding out on a natural history walk or simply marvelling at the dramatic rock formations by yourself, the Jurassic Coast brings a whole new meaning to spending the day at the beach.
This charming fishing village in south-east Devon grew up around a smugglers' cove and its fascinating history makes it popular with visitors - particularly exciting is the story of smuggler Jack Rattenbury, nicknamed "Rob Roy of the West". Visit the famous Beer Quarry Caves, where 19th century smugglers like Jack would store contraband, and which are the main source in England for Beer stone, used in the construction of many cathedrals and churches and even in Buckingham Palace.
A large part of Beer's history revolved around the making of lace, and former customers have included Queen Victoria (the flounce for her wedding dress was made here) and the Prince and Princess of Wales. But today the main feature of Beer life is fishing, and since there is no harbour it is a daily occurrence to see boats winched up the beach using steel cables. Be sure to sample some of their haul in one of the delightful restaurants that dot the area, or hire a motor-boat and try some mackerel-fishing for yourself!
For those who like to walk, a visit to the Jubilee Gardens with a pretty view over village and cove is bound to please, and from there you can follow the brook through the town and down to the sea. The saying goes that you are not a true Beer local until you have fallen into the brook... perhaps more likely after a spot of ale at one of the local pubs!
If visiting Beer in August you might catch the bustling Regatta Week, packed with events for all the family, from sailing to skittles and from fancy dress to fireworks. With its ever-warm welcome and abundance of local colour, there is plenty in Beer to capture your curiosity.
If the coastline's rocks are a draw, don't miss the dramatic beauty of Burton Bradstock's cliffs as they glow golden in the evening sunlight due to their distinctive hard and soft layered geology.
Quaint and picturesque, with its 16th century thatched cottages made almost entirely from Jurassic stones sourced from within the parish, the village itself is a must-see. Much of the character has been retained from the days when the village was mostly made up of fishermen, farmers and flax spinners, and a lot of the history of Burton Bradstock can still be discovered - why not follow the "Roberts Trail" around the village, named for the 18th century entrepreneur Richard Roberts, who lived in Burton Bradstock and built up a famous, worldwide business of hemp and flax? The Roberts Trail Map, available from the local Post Office, will guide you through the various areas that are associated with this local figure, and are a charming way to tour this peaceful village.
When it's time to sit down and rest your legs, the award-winning Hive Beach Cafe is a great place to head to. Watch as chefs create their mouthwatering seafood platters served with The Hive's own wine, or simply order a hearty sandwich and a hot drink to keep you going until dinner! The Anchor Pub in the village is also a popular spot for meals, drinks and a warm welcome.
Mid-August means the Burton Bradstock Festival of Music and Art, which includes an eclectic schedule of events from classical and jazz to bluegrass and world music, with most concerts taking place in the village's 16th century church.
With its breathtaking views of coast and countryside, beautiful walks and gentle pace of life, Burton Bradstock is the perfect spot in which to unwind and simply forget the world for a while!
Considered a gateway to the World Heritage Site, Charmouth has one of the finest fossil beaches in Europe. The Heritage Coast Centre on the seafront is the best place to discover more about the area's dramatic geology, pick up fossil hunting tips or get involved in the many natural history activities that run year-round, from fossil hunting weekends to rockpool rambles. You could even visit the towering Black Ven cliff, between Charmouth and Lyme Regis, where Mary Anning famously discovered the first ichthyosaur skeleton when she was just 12 years of age. Follow in Mary's footsteps and keep your eyes open for Ammonites, Belemnites, ichthyosaur bones and the interestingly named Devil's Toenails!
Not interested in fossil hunting? Then why not try a spot of sea fishing (the area is rich in bass) or some walking (perhaps through the stunning, unspoiled National Trust estate of Golden Cap, the highest point on the south coast)? And if all you want to do is kick back in the sun, then head for East Beach, with its golden, pebbly sand and river lagoon.
The village itself is relaxed and picturesque, and there are several good pubs, cafes and restaurants which cater to all tastes. So whether you fancy some fresh, sustainable seafood or a traditional English breakfast, there'll be something to satisfy just a short stroll away.
Arguably one of West Dorset's most beautiful villages Eype is situated on the magnificent World Heritage Coastline, close to the historic market town of Bridport. Eype consists of both Higher Eype and Lower Eype. Lower Eype has access to the beach for fishing, swimming and fossil hunting and Higher Eype has a local pub.
Just a couple of miles from Lyme Regis, Rousdon is set on the rugged Jurassic coastline, nestled above the spectacularly unspoilt natural canopy of the Undercliff. The village has a bakery and coffee house, and meals, drinks and light refreshments can be found at The Dower House Hotel. The area is a haven for wildlife and for those properties located on the Rousdon estate grounds, you have access to 350 acres of pastures and woodlands, boasting access via a very steep footpath to a private beach. The South West Coastal Footpath passes through the estate, giving many miles of wonderful walking in both directions.
A traditional Devon seaside town, Seaton is situated midway between Lyme Regis and Sidmouth and is a designated gateway to the Jurassic Coast, with a mile-long beach that's ideal for windsurfing, diving, sailing and more. The place where the Axe valley meets the sea is specified as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it's easy to see why: the large, meandering river with its lush green banks, dotted here and there with woods and farms, is not only stunningly beautiful but is also a fantastic spot for nature-lovers, being home to three nature reserves (Black Hole Marsh, Seaton Marshes and Colyford Common) and their bird-watching hides. The twitchers amongst you might easily spot a rare visitor or two in the tidal salt marshes!
If you'd prefer to relax, then why not observe the nature reserves from the comfort of the open-topped Seaton Tram? The Tramway runs from Seaton to Colyton, allowing a chance to explore the chocolate-box village of Colyton before heading back. More adventurous visitors can even have a go at driving the tram themselves, or can look out for special events, such as the Hallowe'en Tram of Terror.
If shopping in Seaton Village you could always stop at the Seaton Museum on Fore Street to learn more about the fascinating history of this ancient town, which has been settled for over 6,000 years. And of course, there are plenty of pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants for when you're ready to take a load off and settle down for some refreshments.
Finally, if visiting at the end of August, make sure you take in the spectacular illuminated carnival with its costumed walkers and brightly lit floats, to really end your summer with a bright pop of colour!
West Bay is a charming fishing village on the famous Jurassic Coastline. The area has been a favourite holiday destination for generations with its wonderful food and friendly welcome. West Bay is a gateway to the Jurassic Coast, which covers 95 miles of coast from Orcombe Rocks at Exmouth, Devon to Studland Bay in Dorset.
Sometimes known as the Dinosaur Coast, tourists throughout the World visit Dorset for fossil hunting in stunning coastal scenery. The famous sandstone East Cliff at West Bay, formed from Lower Jurassic Bridport Sands exposes 180 million years of history & is now famous as the backdrop for the award winning TV series 'Broadchurch'.