rock & roll in Dorset

Hunt for an­cient seashells and soar­ing views on the seashore.

Country Walking Magazine (UK) - - Contents - Char­mouth, Dorset

Hunt for an­cient seashells and soar­ing views on the seashore.

NOT A CHUCK Berry trib­ute week­end, but rocks (fos­sils) one day and roll(er­coaster) cliffs the other. The Juras­sic Coast has both in spades and Char­mouth near Lyme Regis is a hotspot, with its am­monite-rich beach out front and record-break­ing cliff of Golden Cap to the east.

The tide might tip which way round you do your two walks as you need it low for fos­sick­ing for fos­sils, to max­imise the shore to ex­plore. Even bet­ter, chase the re­ced­ing waves out to find the lat­est crop of wave-borne trea­sures, keep­ing a safe dis­tance from the crum­bling, slip-slide cliffs be­hind. The Char­mouth Her­itage Coast Cen­tre (Fri-Mon in win­ter) is a great stop for fos­sil ad­vice be­fore you hit the beach. As well as the clas­sic spi­rals of am­monites, this stretch is renowned for bul­let-shaped belem­nite guards and corkscrew crinoid stems, and you might even find ver­te­brae or jaw­bones from an ichthyosaur.

Switch mi­cro for macro as you climb to the top of Golden Cap: the high­est cliff on the en­tire south­ern coast of Bri­tain. Fol­low the South West Coast Path out from Char­mouth and it’s truly a roller­coaster, with one big dip and then a smaller one be­fore the slow haul ( you can al­most feel the en­gines grind) to the big­gest of them all and the sum­mit at 627 feet /191 me­tres above the sea. The panorama from this sand­stone perch is vast, and while the waves and briny hori­zon are hyp­notic, do take a turn to look in­land be­fore your clifftop ride back to Char­mouth. You can re­trace your steps out, or pick up a web of paths that runs a lit­tle to the north.

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