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