Exmouth to Weymouth
The Desert Landscape of the Jurassic Coast
Exmouth to Weymouth: 60 miles in 4 days at a good level of fitness
A breathtakingly beautiful stretch of coastline at the start of the 250 million years of geological history on view along the 90-mile Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. High cliffs looking like ancient desert escarpments change from red to white to gold as the path soars and plunges above a shingle shoreline famous for its fossils and birdlife and its tales of smugglers. The villages along the way are picturesque and well-resourced and the views in all directions are spectacular throughout.
Between the two Regency resorts of Exmouth and Sidmouth the Coast Path travels through the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Here the red cliffs and pavements were laid down in a desert landscape, and flash flooding rolled fallen chunks of rock into the famous Budleigh pebbles. The mudflats and reedbeds at the mouth of the River Otter teem with wildlife and are renowned for their birdwatching, while the atmospheric high moor and heathland above Sidmouth have a human history going back to Stone Age days.
The path rises and falls through woodland pitted with ancient quarries as the rocks turn to limestone and the terrain becomes more rugged. High ground peppered with prehistoric remains plunges to shingle beaches where the sea rumbles over the pebbles. Between Seaton and Lyme Regis you walk through a remote area of undercliffs, where the top layers of rock have slithered towards the sea, leaving behind a supreme wilderness habitat for an abundance of different species of plants and animals.
Through Charmouth and West Bay and onto Abbotsbury the edge of the cliffs swoops and dives in a spectacular landscape of golden rock, fringing an upland plateau of rolling green hills and fields interspersed with dark areas of forest and woodland. Down on the shoreline, far below the 191m peak of Golden Cap but just a stone's throw from the path at Seatown, the rough cliffs are a treasure trove of fossils, and it was on this part of the coast that Victorian Mary Anning found the first ichthyosaur.
Abbotsbury is another quaint thatched village with more remnants of the area's rich medieval history on display; and now you are walking above Chesil Beach, an eighteen-mile shingle causeway divided from the land by the Fleet Lagoon, a tranquil saltwater haven for many thousands of different waterbirds and wildfowl, which leads you on to journey's end at Weymouth.
Day 4: Abbotsbury to Weymouth 13.4 miles (21.6 km)