In August 2015 I spent 3 days on the Jurassic Coast in beautiful Dorset with my family. My 7-year-old son's interest in dinosaurs, fossils and all things Jurassic, inspired the trip and we went in the hope that, other than wonderful memories from a break away as a family, we would return home with a real fossil or two.
We decided on taking this trip a month or so in advance and having had such a fantastic experience with doing Cornwall Unplanned, we went to Dorset having only planned that our first port of call was to be the iconic Durdle Door and that we would aim for the best fossil-hunting spots. And so off we went to do Dorset Unplanned.
The Durdle Door
Like most people, we had seen pictures of the Durdle Door before we arrived, but they quite simply don't do the real thing any justice... it is truly breath-taking and not something you should miss when you visit Dorset.
When you arrive at the site of the Durdle Door in Lulworth, you're high above sea level and the only way to get to the magnificent limestone arch is down, and by foot. The walk down to the beach is long and steep, which doesn't present a problem on the way down, but the walk back up again see most small children and dogs, elderly people and the incredibly unfit, struggle. There is ample parking (don't forget change for the meter) at the top and for those who fancy staying for the day at the beach next to the Durdle Door, it is perfectly acceptable to bring barbecues, tents, towels and picnics.
Then, in true "Unplanned Style", we asked locals and other visitors around us about where to go on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, and we saw our trip unfold as we were going, not tied to any plan. These are some of the amazing places we may never have experienced if we had planned our trip from home:
Charmouth has a great beach for walking and looking for fossils, rocks and stones, not so much a beach for sunbathing. We walked up and down the beach, feet in the water, looking down trying to spot fossils and up to enjoy the wonderful views of the rocks and the beautiful sea.
Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre
At one end of the beach is the pier and Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre, a centre that provides information on fossils, fossil hunting and the local coastal and marine wildlife as well as being home to interactive computers, hands on displays, marine tanks, a video microscope and much more. The centre offers guided fossil hunting- and rockpooling walks. The pier is home to a shop full of fossils and stones, and here you can hire rock hammers and safety goggles. Armed with hammers and goggles we went down to the beach with a set of instructions on which rocks would be most likely to have a fossil hidden inside of them. This was brilliant fun, although not easy and not something the kids could really get into. We didn't have any luck finding fossils on this occasion, but many did and this is definitely a must for any "fossil hunter".
The Anchor Inn
Seatown is a picturesque small town with a beautiful beach. On the beach is one of the most wonderful gastro pubs, The Anchor Inn. Cosy interior with fishing- and Jurassic coast memorabilia, a super menu of top quality pub grub and seating inside, outside and in a garden above the building overlooking the sea, the beach and the neighbouring cliffs. As pubs go, this one if a must on your list of places to go in Dorset. We had lunch in the upstairs garden.. a fantastic meal with a view.
Following our lunch, we had a magical afternoon on the beach. The beach is mainly stones, not rocks, so you can walk on it but with shoes. We remember Seatown with the most joy, as this was where we found of first (and only) fossil. On the beach at Seatown we also made the acquaintance of 3 fishermen who had their rods in the stones, deckchairs and a barbecue where they cooked what they caught. They were locals and happy to chat, share their fish and tell us where to go next.. they told us about The Hive.
The Hive Beach Cafe
In Burton Bradstock we went to have lunch at The Hive Beach Café on the recommendation of the fishermen we met the day before. Oh WOW... they were right, The Hive truly must be one of the best eateries in all of Dorset! An abundance of fresh seafood, all lovingly and expertly prepared by a an amazing team of chefs. Our recommendation: Have the Seafood Platter, it was the best and the freshest seafood we'd ever had. And if you're in Burton Bradstock and it's not lunch- or dinnertime, visit The Beach Hut for an ice cream instead.
No visit to the Jurassic Coast without also popping into Lyme Regis, the largest town on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. Being a well-known town for tourists and visitors to Dorset, we may not have added Lyme Regis to our Dorset Unplanned trip had we not been staying near there, but what a shame that would have been. In Lyme Regis you will find wonderful restaurants, shops, museums, cafes, a super High Street... oh, and a beach right in the centre of town! It was a fabulous base for us on this weekend-break in Dorset and one we definitely will come back to again.
Get inspired for travel and holidays with me on I ♡ TRAVELS - I can't wait for our next Unplanned Holiday.