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Jurassic Coast

dog at jurassic exmouth beach

Exploring England’s Prehistoric Heart Along the Jurassic Coast

Stretching for 95 miles, the Jurassic Coast offers one of England’s most awe-inspiring landscapes. Follow the South West Coast Path along soaring cliffs abundant with prehistoric secrets, discover bustling resorts that transported Victorians, search for 185 million year old fossils underfoot, and watch the sea relentlessly carve out the craggy shoreline as wildlife thrives in coastal habitats.

This UNESCO World Heritage Site promises non-stop discovery across 185 million years of planetary history. Read on to start planning your own adventures along Devon and Dorset’s fossil-rich coastline.

jurassic coast exmouth

The Route

The Jurassic Coast encompasses 155 square miles of coast between Old Harry Rocks in Dorset to Exmouth in East Devon. This ancient shoreline passes through and alongside scenic towns and villages including:

  • In Dorset – Swanage, Lulworth Cove, Weymouth, Abbotsbury, West Bay, Lyme Regis, Charmouth, Bridport
  • In Devon – Seaton, Beer, Sidmouth, Budleigh Salterton, Exmouth

Each stretch has its own unique geological features, rich history and attractions that could occupy you for days. It takes most hikers 2-3 weeks to complete the full route.

“Walking the Jurassic Coast: Fossils and Landforms” by Ronald Turnbull is a comprehensive guide to exploring one of the world’s most captivating coastlines. Rich with geological wonders and ancient fossils, this book offers detailed routes and insightful commentary, making it a must-have companion for adventurers and fossil enthusiasts alike.

Find Out More

jurassic coast

Travelling Along the Jurassic Coast

Whether tackling the multi-day hike or visiting specific spots, getting around is convenient:

By Car

Many key Jurassic Coast towns sit just off the A35 trunk road in Dorset or A30 in Devon so driving between them is easy. The A353/A354 connects inland.

Public Transport

Regular buses run between the main resort towns. Many villages are also served by seasonal coastal hopper buses that stop at landmarks along the route.


Mainline train services connect to larger destinations like Weymouth and Exeter before bus or taxi onwards. Some towns like Beer have stations just inland.

The Spectacular Coastline

The Jurassic Coast’s coastline is the star attraction, boasting:

  • Imposing cliffs carved dramatically over millennia showcasing a colourful array of rock strata. Watch as waves, weather and rockfalls continue reshaping the cliffs.
  • Sweeping sandy bays like those at West Bay, Seatown and Budleigh Salterton contrasting with the sheer cliffs.
  • Iconic coastal landforms like Durdle Door’s huge sea arch and the towering stack Old Harry Rocks. Lulworth Cove’s idyllic horseshoe shape.
  • Bustling working harbours, hidden smugglers coves and scenic coastal paths punctuating the route.

With new geological revelations around each corner, you could hike the coastline repeatedly and still make fresh discoveries about its ever-changing drama.

jurassic coast exmouth

Fossils and Prehistoric Life

The Jurassic Coast gets its name from the Jurassic rock strata dominating stretches of the shoreline. These sedimentary layers formed between 65 to 200 million years ago and are renowned for the wealth of fossils containing conserved prehistoric life they contain. Keep an eye out for:

  • Ammonites – Curled cephalopod fossils commonly found along the shoreline and cliffs. Iconic Jurassic coast symbols.
  • Marine reptile remains like Ichthyosaurs and Plesiosaurs have been discovered in the cliffs. See their skeletons at Lyme Regis Museum.
  • Dinosaur fossilised footprints can sometimes be spotted at low tide around Charmouth.
  • Petrified forest remains emerge on the foreshore between Branscombe and Lyme Regis. Fossilised tree stumps from an ancient woodland now called “The Undercliffs.”

Be sure to visit the coast’s excellent fossil museums to see the most significant finds.


Family Fun

As well as scenic strolls hunting for fossils, the Jurassic Coast offers hands-on adventures for kids and families:

  • Lyme Regis Coastal Scenes – Use clay to recreate ammonites and Jurassic creatures.
  • Rockpooling – Discover crabs, fish and anemones in pools when the tide goes out.
  • Sandcastle competitions – Get creative on wide family beaches. Look for events at Lyme Regis.
  • Dinosaur and fossil themed trails – Museums bring the past to life.
  • Play parks and areas – Burn off energy like at the Donkey Sanctuary near Sidmouth.
  • Boat trips – See the cliffs and coves from the water.

With so many ways to ignite kids’ imaginations about the Jurassic past, it’s an engaging family adventure.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why is it called the Jurassic Coast? – The cliffs and beaches along the coastline contain fossils from the Jurassic period (between 145m and 200m years ago)

Where does the Jurassic Coast start and finish? -It oficially runs from Orcombe Point in Exmouth and continues for 95 miles until Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage in Dorset.

Top Attractions and Activities

Some of the most popular attractions to add to your trip in the area include:

Whether you come for exhilarating hikes, family beach days or to marvel at the ancient past, the Jurassic Coast offers endless inspiration and adventure anchored in millions of years of planetary history.

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