Explore the wonders of the Jurassic Coast

PUBLISHED: 13:10 22 June 2019

Exmouth's Geo Needle. Ref exe 37 18TI 0595. Picture: Terry Ife

Exmouth's Geo Needle. Ref exe 37 18TI 0595. Picture: Terry Ife


Make the most of living close to this World Heritage Site, with its globally significant geology and spectacular scenery

Beer Village. Ref edr 39 18TI 2006. Picture: Terry IfeBeer Village. Ref edr 39 18TI 2006. Picture: Terry Ife

Living so close to the Jurassic Coast in east Devon, it's easy to forget that it is something of a world wonder. The 95-mile stretch from Orcombe Point to Studland in Dorset was the first location in England to be named as a natural World Heritage Site, which puts it in the same category as the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef. Its geology offers a record of the Earth's history running from around 250 to 65 million years ago.

There are many ways to explore and enjoy this spectacular coastline, while learning more about its globally significant story. The Jurassic Coast Trust's new websitewhich went live earlier this month, has all the facts and figures, along with plenty of suggestions for walks, attractions, visitor centres and activities. Here are some of the highlights:

Walks: The Jurassic Coast Trust organises guided walks along some of the most scenic stretches of coast. For those who can handle steep slopes and uneven terrain, there are regular walks along the Undercliffs National Nature Reserve overlooking Lyme Bay; the next is on Saturday, July 7 and can be booked through the website. Alternatively, there is a 'relaxing summer stroll' from Branscombe to Beer on Sunday, June 30. Or try a leisurely walk from Otterton along the River Otter to Budleigh Salterton Beach and back on Saturday, July 6.

Plenty of other routes along the Jurassic Coast can be found on the website of the South West Coast Path

Sidmouth's west beach. Ref shs 27 18TI 7048. Picture: Terry IfeSidmouth's west beach. Ref shs 27 18TI 7048. Picture: Terry Ife

On the water: Exmouth's Stuart Line Cruises runs regular boat trips along the Jurassic Coast, which are a fantastic way to see the geology of the cliffs. The exact route varies according to the weather and tides, but the skipper will try to get close to some of the more striking rocks, and will sometimes go as far as Sidmouth before turning round to go back to Exmouth.

Fossil hunting: The Jurassic Coast is well-known for its wealth of fossil discoveries, and they can still be found, particularly on the beaches between Lyme Regis and Charmouth. The Jurassic Coast Trust website gives details of where to look, and how to fossil-hunt responsibly. Or visit Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre to view its fossil exhibition, and then join one of its fossil-hunting walks.

Museums: At Budleigh Salterton's Fairlynch Museum, find out about Budleigh's ancient red cliffs and the mysterious radioactive nodules found in the cliffs to the west of the town. Sidmouth Museum has a geology room with rocks from the Triassic and Cretaceous age, ammonites and marine fossils, 225-million-year-old reptile footprints, and remains of Ice Age mammals. The Fine Foundation Heritage Centre in Beer tells the story of the local geology, including the famous Beer Stone used in building and also for experiments in space. It also organises guided walks and other activities.

Seaton Jurassic: The name says it all: a centre dedicated to the coastline, its geology, its natural history and its present-day marine life. Plenty of educational fun for children, and special events including falconry displays and storytelling. For further details click here

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