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The Jurassic Coast

by | Destinations, England | 17 comments

Our campsite at Kimmeridge on the Jurassic Coast was idyllic, very quiet and tranquil, the peace disturbed only by occasional machine-gun fire and exploding tank shells. One night, it seemed that the shells were being aimed directly at our camper. The earth moved! The army have some kind of training facility close by…..

This was our second campsite as we explored the Jurassic Coast, a world heritage site renowned for the fossils, which are frequently uncovered by the erosion of the cliff face.  The first campsite was near Lyme Regis and within easy reach of Charmouth and Chesil Beach, places we had heard of but never visited. As a young teacher, I had been tasked with teaching the book Mary Anning’s Treasures to a class of first years and I recall thinking that the book was a bit twee, but Mary’s story has stayed with me and I was keen to explore the coast where she discovered her fossilised treasures.

Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis on a sunny Saturday in July was busy, but it had the lovely feel of a typical British seaside town. We enjoyed wandering along the beach front by the multi-coloured beach huts and taking in a coffee overlooking the beach before climbing on to the harbour wall and looking back over to the town.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

The beach huts at Lyme Regis

The roads through the town are narrow and twisty, no problem for scoot but might be a bit tight for the motor home.

Charmouth is one of the best places to go fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast apparently, so we went. The beach is long and gravelly with high cliffs, which occasionally break away to reveal some fabulous fossils. Lots of people were out with tiny hammers hoping to find something of note; others, like our selves were just turning over rocks, hoping that the next one would be the lucky one. I think fossil hunting probably requires a bit more knowledge and skill than we have, but it was a lovely sunny day as we explored the beach and as we walked further and further along, we had it entirely to ourselves.

Fossil hunting on Charmouth beach

We did find several tiny fossils embedded in the rocks, but nothing collectible so in the end we took to hunting litter instead and did our bit for the environment.  It should be noted though that this is a remarkably clean beach, due in no small part to the volunteer litter pickers who were out in force on the busier stretch of the beach.

Some Jurassic litter!

Time for an ice cream

Our next foray was out to Chesil Beach. This is an eighteen mile stretch of pebble beach, much of which is separated from the mainland by the Fleet Lagoon, leaving this narrow spit of beach which is quite remarkable. We accessed the beach at Abbotsford. The beach is quite steeply banked and so at first we did not see other people along the water’s edge, but as we came over the top we saw quite a number of people mackerel fishing or just sitting in the sun. We walked along the beach and soon left most other people behind. It is easy to understand why: walking on this shingle is quite hard going – two steps forward and one back. We walked as far as we were able but access to the lagoon area at this time of year is not allowed as it is a bird sanctuary and the birds are nesting.

A view over Chesil Beach

And on the beach.

Rather than walking back the way we had come, we turned slightly inland and followed the track which led up to  St Catherine’s chapel high on the hill overlooking the bay. The view from the top on this blue sky day was stunning and a great place for our picnic lunch.

St Catherine’s Chapel

Back at Abbotsford, we then took the road marked “Unsuitable for motorised vehicles” alongside the beach. We are accustomed to going “off road” on a motorbike and this is normal where we lived in Canada, but today we were on the tiny scoot…..The track was fine for the most part, a little tricky in places, but scoot coped admirably – until  a couple of hundred yards from the end when the track turned into the beach and we were in deep shingle. Scoot was going now where under his own steam and had to be pulled and pushed to the end, where a 4×4 was stuck in the shingle, abandoned and waiting to be extricated by a tractor. That was the excitement for today!

Stuck!

Kimmeridge

And so to Kimmeridge and the campsite with the exploding tank shells……an interesting bay just south of Wareham and a really good base for exploring this section of the Jurassic Coast.

Wareham is the nearest town and it is really pretty. We had to call there to collect the replacement mirror for the motorhome (see The Devonshire Coast) delivered by eBay to one of the local shops and were really quite impressed. There are pubs and cafes on the banks of the River Frome and people were out playing in the water and in boats. The town is peppered interesting,  old buildings and the main street has great shops for window shopping!

A few miles along the coast is Lulworth Cove, which we had heard of and wanted to visit. We took the scoot and headed out that way, getting slightly distracted by Lulworth Castle, which is quite eye-catching and worth a visit. It is set in beautiful parkland and they were just preparing for a pop festival the following weekend when we visited.

Lulworth Castle

Church of St Andrew at Lulworth Castle, dating back to C15

It is easy to understand why Lulworth Cove  is so popular. The village is chocolate-box pretty and the cove itself incredibly beautiful, but when we visited early on a Tuesday afternoon, it was mobbed. We climbed up to the cliffs overlooking the cove and surprisingly had the place to ourselves for a picnic lunch.

Lulworth Cove

The rocks and caves around Lulworth Cove

We had intended to walk the path between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, another iconic landmark of this area, but the path looked so crowded, we decided to give it a miss and scoot round.

Durdle Door, a large limestone arch, is one of the most iconic landmarks on the Jurassic Coast. It is quite remarkable and we were glad we went, but if anything, there were more people there than at Lulworth Cove!

Durdle Door

Durdle Door, one of the most photographed landmarks on the Jurassic Coast

We returned to the very peaceful campsite at Kimmeridge and after a cup of tea set out to walk the cliffs from there. It could not have been more different: we saw two other people on the cliff path as we walked out towards the east! It was absolutely beautiful and I think this is one of the best cliff walks we have done.

Clavell Tower at Kimmeridge Bay

The cliffs at Kimmeridge

That evening we decided to go out for dinner and scooted down to Corfe Castle. Wow!

Corfe Castle

View of the castle from the beer garden of the pub on top of the hill!

The castle came into view as we came over the brow of a hill to go down into the town and took us by surprise. It looked amazing in the evening sunshine.  Corfe is another small, very pretty village, which should not be missed in this area.

A word about those machine guns and the tank fire…….  this only lasted a half hour or so one evening and I cannot claim that we were  really affected by it. In every other respect the campsite was lovely, beautifully situated, and, for the most part, very peaceful!

So much still to explore on the beautiful Jurassic Coast! We will be back, but that’s it for now.

 

17 Comments

  1. Ha – I would have been totally freaked out by the gunfire and exploding shells!! The beaches you visited, especially Lyme Regis are gorgeous. How amazing to have such beautiful views and an almost empty beach all to yourself. The castles and St. Catherine’s Chapel would also be fun to explore. This looks like a lovely area, I’d love to visit it someday.

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    • Yes, it is beautiful. It was our first visit to this area and we really loved it.

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  2. You should have opened with – the peace only disturbed by occasional machine-gun fire and tank shells exploding- and then come back around to it. You totally buried the lede. I am not sure about the beaches but the geology, castles, and small villages were outstanding. The Jurassic Coast looks absolutely beautiful.

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    • You are absolutely correct. Thank you. Will change.

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  3. Beautiful beaches, great views, and lots of historic buildings to see! Sounds like my kind of traveling! Not sure I’d be up for the gunfire and exploding shells near the campground. Hopefully, they let people know that beforehand, especially if you are camping with your dog. Nice that there was a great cliff walk right from the campsite.

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  4. I have never heard of the Jurassic Coast and I wasn’t expecting it to be in the UK honestly! I absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE the colorful little beach huts at Lyme Regis! They’re so pretty and full of personality! Too bad you couldn’t see the birds nesting in Fleet Lagoon, that would’ve really cool, but I understand why you couldn’t. The angle on your photos is really cool! Lulworth Cave looks really cool, like a crater almost!

    Reply
    • I love the beach huts also. Would love to have one, but they are outrageously expensive and very rarely come up for sale. My husband is the photographer in chief; most of the photos I take are squint!

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  5. I’ve never managed to get down to this area of the country but my Grandparents have been a few times and told us how beautiful it is. The pictures just look incredible. Next time we are home for a while we will be heading down here!!

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  6. Perfect change on the lede … I’d read this before you made the change and just now was rereading for my comments and saw you’d editing. LOVE the lede now. 😉 I can only imagine the joy of camping nearby to an military gun range. And so LOVE the photo of you and your buried scooter. Great photos, great story. Loved reading it.

    Reply
    • Thank you so much. The edit was so obvious, I am marginally embarrassed I did not go there at first. Grateful to the person who pointed it out. Think I have been so wrapped up in dealing with the technical aspects of setting up a blog that I was not paying enough attention to the articles. Lesson learned.

      Reply
  7. These places look beautiful! I’d love to visit them… Maybe minus the campground with exploding shells nearby ????

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    • It really was not a problem as it never lasted very long. I think we were perhaps unfortunate as they do not engage in these kinds of manoeuvres very often.

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  8. You had some great time on the Jurassic coast, gunfire at the campsite notwithstanding! I read about your fossil hunt turning into a litter hunt. Nice to know that you did not find much litter on the Charmouth beach. It is nice to know that there are volunteers who keep the beach clean.

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    • Absolutely. We were very impressed.

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  9. Looks gorgeous and I love the beach huts, but there’s absolutely no way I could deal with the sound of gunfire! Makes me anxious just thinking about it! Otherwise looks like a perfect destination with some earplugs 😉

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    • Please don’t let that put you off. I don’t think this happens very often and it is such a lovely location.

      Reply
  10. The Jurassic Coast is one of my favourite coastlines in England. I took my family there on our last trip back and they also fell in love with it. Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door are stunning spots and we enjoyed a walk around Lyme Regis.

    Reply

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Hello!  I’m Jane. I live in the Lake District in the north of England with my husband, Peter. We love to travel, but this is a great place to call home.

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