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Fossil Hunting on the Jurassic Coast

Being surrounded by Dorset’s stunning coastal scenery, you can be forgiven for forgetting the very thing it is famed for – Jurassic coast fossils!

The Jurassic Coast is aptly named after the geological periods that you can witness here. With Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous on show, Jurassic coast fossils are abundant. Take the family on a hunt through time and go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis, Charmouth or Lulworth Cove.

Read more to find out more about the best places to fossil hunt in Dorset… 

Where to Find Jurassic Coast Fossils in Dorset?

Jurassic Coast Fossil hunting

The coasts and cliffs around Charmouth and Lyme Regis are a world-famous fossil hot spot, and it doesn’t take a geologist to start fossil hunting here.

Jurassic coast fossils are continuously washed out of the cliffs, meaning one of the best ways to find them is by sifting through the loose gravel and shingle on the beach. It is a great family activity with plenty of learning opportunities along the way.

For places such as Charmouth, where the cliffs erode quickly, this process of fossil hunting is an essential part of the maintenance of the coast; if the fossils aren’t collected, then they are soon washed away or destroyed by the sea.

In this particular area, the rocks in the cliffs represent layers from the oldest part of the Jurassic period and would have been at the bottom of a deep sea up to 200 million years ago!

Fossil Hunting in Lyme Regis

Fossil Hunting on Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis has become a world-famous hotspot for Jurassic Coast fossils. That is because of the perfect environment for the preservation of fossils.

Over the years, a fantastic selection of fossils has been discovered at Lyme Regis. In fact, at most times of the year, you will find travellers from all over the world scouring the beach for fossils.

The best time of day to go fossil hunting at Lyme Regis is as the tide is going out. As the water departs, the deposits of fossils are often left upon the foreshore.

Whether you are a beginner or an expert, Lyme Regis is a good place to start for fossil hunters. It is a chance for children to interact with over 190 million years of history.

Fossil Hunting in Lulworth Cove

Lulworth Cove Fossil Forest

Lulworth Cove is a popular travel destination for many visitors to the Jurassic Coast. It is perfect for families, couples or a relaxing walk with your dog.

When the local army range is closed, you can access the famous fossil forest. The Lulworth Cove fossil forest is the perfect opportunity to see the remains of fossilised trees and sea beds.

You can find the Fossil Forest opening days on the government website.

Jurassic Coast Fossil Walk

Charmouth Jurassic Coast Fossil Walk

There are several Jurassic coast fossil walks available. However, the Charmouth Fossil Walk is one of the most popular. The walk covers a distance of one mile and takes place along the beach among pebbles and boulders.

Let the experts guide you through Dorsets rich history as you take a walk along the stunning coastline. The Wardens are full of information and will give you the best tips on spotting fossils in Charmouth.

Starting at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Center meeting point, the Jurassic coast walk takes you down to the famous beach and onto your Jurassic Coast Walk. Throughout busier months, it is advisable to book in advance. You should arrive 10 minutes before the walk to pick your tickets.

Whether fossil hunting or not, there are a number of stunning Jurassic Coast walks to discover.

What Should I Look for When Fossil Hunting?

Lyme Regis Fossil Beach

Fossiling is a way for children and adults to engage with the history of the local area. It can be a great day out with little, or no equipment.

As the tide goes out, the water reveals several rock pools for exploring and spotting some fascinating plants and creatures. Therefore, making this a captivating beach to visit, even when the weather is not so good!

For those who like a bit more guidance and information, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre offers ‘Fossil Fantastic’ days. Visitors can enjoy a guided fossil hunting walk, followed by fossil-based arts and crafts for children, while adults are invited to a lecture on fossils in the local area from the warden.

A session on fossil identification will help visitors identify what fossils they have found throughout the day and put their new expertise on the subject in to practice. For those not so keen on sifting through the beach to find fossils, you may have more luck heading to one of the dedicated visitor centres or museums.

If you love the idea of fossil hunting in Dorset, why not check out the Lyme Regis fossil and earth science festival this year. You can find out more about all the festivals in Dorset and when they are throughout the year.

With a stunning choice of beaches and a rich history of dinosaurs, Jurassic coast fossil hunting is a perfect way to explore Dorset. Leave your Jurassic coast cottage behind and go on an adventure through time with the family.

Image Credits – David Hagwood – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Julian Dowse – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Anne Roberts – (CC BY-NC-SA); Matthew Anderson – (CC BY-SA 2.0); Eirian Evans – (CC BY-SA 2.0)