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The Jurassic Coast: A step back in time

If you think that the Jurassic world is confined to Hollywood blockbusters, think again. Here in the UK we have our own homage to all things Jurassic from around 146 million years ago. The Jurassic coast that runs from Exmouth to Studland in the South West of England is testament to the dinosaurs, birds, rodents, crumbling landmasses, sea monsters, sharks, and blood-red plankton of the time.
 
The Jurassic Coast was England’s first UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) designated natural World Heritage Site and is now part of a family of natural wonders including America’s Grand Canyon and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. It begins in Exmouth with the oldest red Triassic rocks and ends with the youngest white chalk stacks at Old Harry Rocks.
 
For BCH Camping customers, the good news is that the Jurassic Coast is walkable all year round, so if you’re looking for a walking holiday or days out during the dull and dreary winter months, the Jurassic Coast could be what you’re looking for.
 
The walk is 95 miles long, throughout which the difficulty level and terrain varies. Due to the erosion, some sections are rerouted, so you should be prepared for some diversions along the way. There is a huge variety of circular walks available due to the connecting footpaths and bridleways, so you can decide whether to take 9 – 10 days to walk the entire length of the path or follow circular paths on separate visits.
 
Walkers of the Jurassic Coast are rewarded with stunning views, dramatic cliff tops, sea-level sections, intricate rock formations and fossil hunting. The route is easy to follow by looking out for the acorn symbols. You just have to remember that cliffs are dangerous and rockfalls can happen without warning, but if you follow the marked path and steer clear of cliff edges you should be OK! The impact of the sea is evident in the many amazing rock formations and cliff faces on this stretch of coastline.
 

The Jurassic Coast highlights

This walk is very much about rock formations and the backstory of our islands. Straight away you come across the 250 million year-old red sandstone on the first leg of the route from Exmouth to Sidmouth.
 
The route continues to Axmouth and its undercliffs which represent the start of the Jurassic period and lead on to the world famous fossil sites at Lyme Regis and Charmouth. From here you head along West Bay, taking in incredible views, reaching the highest point on the South coast at Golden Cap. From here the route takes you along Chesil Beach and around the isle of Portland. which leads on to Durdle Door’s famous rock arch and the iconic Lulworth Cove.
 
The final leg takes you past Durlston Head before reaching Old Harry Rocks, near Studland.
 

Sidmouth

The seaside town of Sidmouth sits beneath Triassic red cliffs and the lush, green hills of the glorious Sid valley. It originally developed as a fishing village, but a lack of shelter in the bay has prevented its growth as a port.
 
The wide promenade has been a prominent seafront feature since the Regency period, while the clean waters of the beach at Sidmouth are a popular location for swimming and a variety of water sports including sailing and windsurfing. Jacob’s Ladder beach is particularly popular with families. Jacob’s Ladder is a wooden staircase leading from the beach up to the cliffs above from which you can enjoy amazing views of the surrounding coastline.
 

Beer

No, not that kind of beer! Beer has striking white cliffs, nestling amongst the red rocks of the coast to either side. The chalk is much younger than the red mudstones and sandstones that dominate the East Devon Coast. Beer has a deep connection with chalk that can only be appreciated by visiting the village.
 

Lyme Regis

The historic seaside town of Lyme Regis nestles in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at the point where the rugged West Dorset and East Devon coastlines meet – the heart of the Jurassic Coast. The town and the surrounding area are renowned for their natural beauty, and it has a fascinating history stretching back to the 8th century.
 
Lyme Regis is known for being the setting for John Fowles’ 1969 postmodern historical fiction novel, The French Lieutenant’s Woman. The novel was made into a film in 1981 starring Meryl Streep, from which one of the most iconic images was of her standing at the end of the High Wall on the Cobb in her hooded cape with waves crashing all around. This made Lyme Regis world famous, but rumour has it that the solitary figure was actually a stuntman!
 

Charmouth

Many of the buildings that remain in Charmouth date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Located in the heart of fossil hunting country, Charmouth has a large shingle beach and the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre on the seafront, making it a top destination for those interested in fossils. The Heritage Coast Centre also runs regular fossil hunting walks which are extremely popular.
 
For walkers, Charmouth is a great destination for walking. There are many attractive routes running both inland to the pretty Dorset and East Devon countryside, and along the South West Coast Path. 
 

Golden Cap

Golden Cap is the perfect viewpoint for observing the Jurassic Coast from 190m above sea level. This famous landmark rises to 191m, making it the highest point on the south coast of England. The climb to the top is fairly challenging, but very much worth the effort. There are panoramic views in all directions, from Portland in the east to Dartmoor in the west.
 
Golden Cap is flanked by meadows, streams and woodland, all part of a National Trust estate.
 

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach is a shingle beach stretching for miles along the coast with formations that act as a reminder of the force of nature and its impact on our coasts.  It has been the scene of many shipwrecks and was named "Dead Man's Bay" by Thomas Hardy. The beach provides shelter from the prevailing winds and waves for the town of Weymouth, Dorset and the village of Chiswell on Portland.
 

Durdle Door

Durdle Door is located on the Lulworth Estate. Eroded by time and nature, Durdle Door is one of Dorset’s most photographed and iconic landmarks. The magnificent natural limestone arch was formed when the power of the waves eroded the rock and forged a hole through the middle. The name Durdle is derived from an old English word ‘thirl’, which means to pierce, bore or drill.
 

Lulworth Cove

The stunning white pebble beach of Lulworth Cove, with its blue waters and easy access make it a popular destination. Low tide reveals wonderful rock pools packed with sea creatures.

The Cove offers boat trips during the summer, and a variety of places to eat. The Heritage Centre, next to a large car park, is a source for all kinds of information about the area and the Jurassic Coast.
 

Old Harry Rocks

Old Harry Rocks are three chalk formations that used to be part of a long stretch of chalk between Purbeck and the Isle of Wight but remained as a headland after large parts were eroded away.  Due to hydraulic action which resulted in large cracks, at first caves, then arches formed. The tops of the arches collapsed after being weakened by rainfall and wind, leaving individual stacks. One of these stacks is known as Old Harry. Old Harry's Wife was another stack which was eroded through corrosion and abrasion, until the bottom was so weak the top fell away, leaving a stump.
 

Let us know if you walk the Jurassic Coast

If you feel inspired to walk the Jurassic Coast, get in touch and tell us about your experience and if you have any tips for fellow walkers. As always, BCH Camping can provide all the kit you need to make sure you’re fully prepared for this inspiring adventure.
 
 

October 24 2018 | Garth
Filed under: England, Footwear, Rucksack, Walks, Weekend

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