The Timeless Coast

Jurassic Coast: 1 to 7 days exploring between Charmouth and Beer.

Ideas for a seven day trip (but can be shortened) exploring (by car or by bus) the coastline between Beer and Charmouth on the East Devon and Dorset Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. Precipitous cliffs, beaches packed with fossils, incredible eateries and coastal villages await as you walk through time in this action-packed area.

Whether you want to spend a day or week exploring the stretch of Jurassic Coast in East Devon & West Dorset, this is the trip for you. With the help of local experts we've pulled together ideas for days out on this wild and rugged coastline. These combine walks taking in the local highlights of the world renowned South West Coast Path National Trail and the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site with visits to local museums and galleries.

Fossil hunting in Charmouth and hill climbing on Golden Cap

Morning

Lace up your hiking boots in Seatown, a small seaside hamlet at the heart of the Jurassic Coast (4.8 miles/7.7km east of Charmouth). Take the path out of Seatown, up towards the summit of Golden Cap (a strenuous, 30-45-minute hike). At the top, catch your breath and enjoy the far-reaching views of Lyme Bay. At 191 metres (627 feet), you’ll have conquered the highest point on the south coast of England. From the summit you have three choices. 1: Return the same way. 2: Follow the 4.5-mile (7.2km) circular route past the ruins of the 13th Century St Gabriel’s Chapel (around the wooded slopes of Langdon Hill) before dropping back into Seatown. 3: Continue westwards along the Coast Path and walk the three miles (4.8km) down to Charmouth.

Afternoon

If you’re back in Seatown, stop for lunch at the beachside pub, then drive west for five miles (8km), or catch the Jurassic Coaster bus (30 minutes, from Chideock), to charming Charmouth (where there’s also a café). Here you can learn all about the Jurassic Coast at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. Educate yourself with the help of interactive displays, then hook up with a guide on a fossil hunting tour of the local beach and cliffs.

Lyme Bay crab, fossils, film and literature in Lyme Regis

Morning

Today is one of the milder days out in this collection – it involves wandering around a museum and gentle strolling along a harbour and beach. Welcome to Lyme Regis, a small town which tumbles down the high street to the beach, where multi-coloured Georgian houses mingle on the promenade overlooking the sweeping blue arc of Lyme Bay. There’s no escaping fossils in Lyme. Even the lampposts are ammonite-shaped. Spare some time to peruse the Lyme Regis Museum to learn more about the area’s natural history and the life of prolific fossil hunter, Mary Anning, who became famous in 1811 with the discovery of an enormous Ichthyosaur skeleton.

Afternoon

When you’ve had your fill of fossils, take a stroll along the promenade to the Cobb, a long, stone harbour wall which juts out into the sea affording great views of the beach and coastline. The Cobb has provided a backdrop to scenes in many famous books, films and TV dramas including Jane Austen’s Persuasion and John Fowles’ The French Lieutenants Woman. Don’t leave the Cobb area without sampling local delicacies such as Lyme Bay crab, mussels or fresh fish pulled straight from boat to table at the seafront restaurants and cafés. If the tide is low, continue west along the beach for 500 metres (1,640 feet), past the last beach huts to reach the famous ammonite graveyard (this involves a gentle scramble across rocks in places). Here you’ll find hundreds of ammonites – some of which are up to a metre across – exposed on a natural rock platform.

Watersports, crafts and a riverside walk in Lyme Regis

Morning

Weave your way through the narrow streets of Lyme Regis to the Town Mill – a 700-year-old working water mill which now showcases the wares of local craftsmen. Stop for a bite to eat at one of the cafés or sample a tipple from the resident micro-brewery, before continuing up the wooded valley beside the River Lym on the 1.5-mile (2.4km) footpath from Lyme Regis to Uplyme and back.

Afternoon

If you’re still feeling active after the morning stroll, why not experience one of the water sports available at the beach? If the sea is calm, join a stand up paddle board tour or hire a kayak. This is your chance to walk on water and get a different perspective of the natural coastal scenery. If paddling a giant surfboard is not your thing there are plenty of boat tours and high speed rib tours which will give you a marine outlook on the area.

A Jurassic ‘jungle’ walk and Seaton’s historic tramway

Morning

Fuel up on a hearty English breakfast. You’re going to need it as you tackle one of the Jurassic Coast’s wildest walks, the challenging, seven-mile (11.3km) route from Lyme Regis to Seaton. Head west out of Lyme Regis and you soon get to a stretch of path through the Undercliffs National Nature Reserve. Created by a series of landslips, the Undercliffs are only accessible on foot. Here you can immerse yourself in a ‘jungle’ of thick vegetation, which is home to over 40 different species of birds. Visiting this untamed wilderness is like stepping back in time. Watch your step on the rugged trail which eventually pops out onto the cliff-tops above Seaton.

“This is one of the great wilderness areas of southern England. There are few opportunities to encounter nature so untamed and here, more than any other part of the Jurassic Coast, there is a sense that people are only passing through, guests of the wild inhabitants who are the true owners of this place.”

Afternoon

Stroll into Seaton for some well-earned fish and chips, available all over town including open-air food stalls. After the morning’s strenuous scramble, take the weight off your legs with a ride on the Seaton Tramway, a historic narrow gauge tram which travels through the nature reserves of the Axe estuary to the delightful Devon villages of Colyford and Colyton. After the sightseeing tram tour, hop on a bus for the 15-minute ride back to Lyme Regis.

Marshwood Vale bike tour, Lewesdon Hill and Forde Abbey

Morning

The sea may be the biggest draw to the Jurassic Coast, but the Dorset countryside should not be missed. One of the easiest ways to see the landscape is to join a three-hour electric bike tour from Morcombelake (5.2 miles/8.4km from Lyme Regis) for a scenic journey through the Marshwood Vale. This rural idyll of rolling hills, remote farms and historic villages is crowned by the peaks of Lewesdon Hill (Dorset’s highest hill at 279 metres) and Pilsdon Pen. (You can make the short walk up to Pilsdon Pen with this bike tour.)

Afternoon

If you opt to drive through Marshwood Vale’s winding country lanes instead, stop in one of the picturesque villages for a pub lunch before heading on to fabulous Forde Abbey. This 12th Century priory served as a monastery for 400 years, before becoming home for a succession of wealthy landowners. Today, it’s possible to explore the house and gardens for further discovery of the region’s rich history. Head to Lyme Regis (12 miles/19.3km away) for sensational seafood at one of its many award-winning restaurants.

Jurassic time-travel in Seaton, ‘hike and dine’ at River Cottage HQ

Morning

If you love natural history, head to the Devonshire seaside town of Seaton (7.8 miles/12.6km from Lyme Regis), where a fantastic visitor attraction awaits. At Seaton Jurassic you can go back in time and discover the secrets of the Jurassic Coast. This hands-on museum lets you examine fossils and discover the sea creatures that once lived in the tropical waters which covered this area.

Afternoon

Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to nearby River Cottage HQ, the rural outpost of TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. This is mainly a cookery school and kitchen garden, but it’s also possible to book in for dinner or seasonal lunches in the 17th Century barn. And during the summer, River Cottage has a Hike and Dine lunch designed in conjunction with the South West Coast Path Association.

The Hooken Cliffs walk at Beer and Branscombe

Morning

Ten miles (16km) west of Lyme Regis lies the Devonshire village of Beer, the start of a wonderfully unique scenic walk on the Jurassic Coast. Take the path out of the village, following the Coast Path over Beer Head to Branscombe Beach, an area of ‘undercliff’ formed by a landslide (and only accessible on foot). This section of coastline is unique because it features white chalk cliffs in contrast to the reddish rock found elsewhere along the Jurassic Coast. Return via the Coast Path or continue on the 4.1-mile (6.6km) Hooken Cliffs walk by heading inland to the pretty village of Branscombe, with its thatched cottages, and then back across fields to Beer. Stop for lunch at one of the village pubs or head to the beach for freshly caught seafood.

Afternoon

Pass along the quaint high street of terraced town houses and thatched cottages in Beer, and walk down the steep slipway to the pebble beach. Sheltered by high cliffs, the bucolic beach is a sun trap in the summer. Sip a cup of coffee from one of the beach-front kiosks and soak up the scenery. Cap it all off with a visit to Beer Quarry Caves to learn about the fascinating history of quarrying of the world famous Beer stone.

The best place to base yourselves for an adventure on this stretch of coast is Lyme Regis, which has the largest selection of accommodation options. There are many smart hotels and laid back guest houses. There are also campsites nearby. If you’re staying for the whole week, a self catering cottage or house might be more convenient. There is also plenty of lovely accommodation elsewhere along this section of coast, such as in the seaside town of Seaton or the fishing village of Beer.

The businesses shown below are supporters of the Coast Path and welcome walkers. Additional listings can be found on the Visit Dorset and Visit Devon websites. If you would like to have your accommodation and luggage transfer arranged, Footscape, Encounter Walking Holidays and Contours Walking Holidays  can create your perfect package.  

Oakdown Holiday Park

Family run award winning Holiday Park with touring, camping, glamping units and 5 star leisure lodges. Peace & tranquillity by the Coast.

Higher Wiscombe, near Beer

3 dog friendly cottages, all bedrooms ensuite, two sleep 6, one sleeps 20, very luxurious and very eco, just inland from the South West Coast Path.

Westleigh Bed & Breakfast

Westleigh is a truly dog friendly B&B run by Etta Ware, a Cordon Bleu trained cook with cooked breakfasts and dinners of your choice cooked by Etta herself.

Southcombe Guest House

Only 10 minutes from the South West Coast Path with easy transport links. Garden & terrace, baggage transfer available.Dog friendly.

Payge Stay

Fabulous Apartments in Sidmouth town, brilliantly placed either to start off from or return to, after an exhilarating day's walk. Free wifi.

Payge Stay Sidmouth

Fabulouse Apartments in Sidmouth town, brilliantly placed either to start off from or return to, after an exhilarating day's walk. Free wifi.

Bay Tree House

Bay Tree House is spacious with comfortable rooms and coordinated furnishings. Enjoy picturesque walks from the doorstep along the Jurassic coast of Devon.

Victoria Hotel

Glorious sweeping views of Lyme Bay. This magnificent luxury hotel epitomises our traditional values of superb quality, sumptuous cuisine and impeccable service.

Beachcroft B&B

A very warm welcome awaits you st Beachcroft B&B, a small relaxed family run B&B in the heart of Seaton Bay. Ideal as a base for the South West Coast Path.

Ladram Bay Holiday Park

Celebrating 75 years of 5* family holidays, we offer the opportunity for visitors to join us for a day, holiday or holiday-home ownership.

The Granary, Larkbeare Grange

Luxury self-catering accommodation with stunning views. 2 Large en-suite bedrooms plus sofa bed. Up to two dogs welcome. Wheelchair friendly.

Westley B&B

Small friendly B&B with 3 rooms en-suite. Village location on bus route to Axminster Railway station and Jurassic Coast. Single occupancy usually available.

Hedgehog Corner

2 fully equipped 1 bedroom self-caterings: own private Hot Tub & Breakfast Basket. Live online booking.

Lucerne

Comfortable and friendly B&B only a few minutes walk in to Lyme Regis. All rooms ensuite and recently upgraded. A large, tasty full English breakfast. Holiday apartment available.

Quentance Farm Bed & Breakfast

Halfway between Exmouth and Budleigh Salterton, our comfortable farmhouse offers local food,log fire and free wi-fi in the cosy guest lounge. Well behaved dogs welcome.

The Croft Guest House

The Croft Guest House is ideally set in an acre of secluded gardens overlooking Cockwood Harbour. A 5 minute walk to local pubs, offering a 10% discount for our guests. Well behaved pets welcome.

Lyme Barn Holidays

Luxury one bedroom self catering accommodation only minutes from the Jurassic Coastal Path in West Dorset.

Cofton Holidays

A stunning park with camping, caravans & cottages with year-round facilities, a short stroll from Cockwood (Starcross).

Langstone Cliff Hotel

64 room 3 Star hotel with wide range of facilities in 19 acres overlooking sea and Exe estuary. Perfectly situated as a base for walking the local sections of the South West Coast Path.

Naturally lots of fish and seafood, including Lyme Bay crab and mussels, but also pies, pasties, cream teas, gourmet pubs, bakeries and quirky cafés.

The businesses shown below are supporters of the Coast Path and welcome walkers. Additional listings can be found on the Visit Dorset and Visit Devon websites.

It’s best to have a car if you want to get the most of the area. But hikers will also need to get the bus occasionally. The Jurassic Coaster X52 travels up and down this stretch of coast. For exploring the countryside, bike travel can be rewarding but the hilly terrain can be very tiring. Buses don’t go into Seatown, so, if you’re using public transport to get about, you’ll need to walk inland to Chideock to catch the Jurassic Coaster. For Baggage transfers visit...www.lttaxis.co.uk

From Dover it is 224 miles (360km) and approx 4 1/4hrs drive to Lyme Regis.  From Harwich it is 245 miles (394km) and a 4 3/4 hour drive.