Finding fossils and literary legends on Britain's South West Coast

Monday 16 October 2017

Britain is blessed with enchanting stretches of coastline, but there's something especially alluring about the seaside-hugging counties of Dorset and Devon.

Flush with dramatic cliffs, hidden coves and pastoral landscapes, these south west-coast neighbours are ripe for scenic drives; their quiet country roads fringed by beguiling places in which to eat, drink, sleep and explore. You could easily spend a few weeks navigating a gently-rolling region that has been showcased in TV hits like Broadchurch - and inspired authors like Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and Agatha Christie - but if you're pressed for time, try this jaw-dropping route.

JURASSIC COAST

Threading 154km between Dorset and East Devon, the Jurassic Coast deserves at least three days (though such are the potential diversions inland, and waymarked hiking trails, you could double it, no problems). 

Boasting UNESCO World Heritage status, the route is so-called because of its abundance of fossil discoveries, and you'll see weird and wonderful relics, plucked from cliffs and beaches, in the region's galleries, souvenir stores and museums. You can even go fossil hunting in Lyme Regis. The setting for Austen's novel, Persuasion, it's one of Dorset's most charming resort towns and one of the last major pit stops if, like most travellers visiting from London, you 'do' the route from east to west. 

Lyme Regis

Chances are you'll fall in love with the coast from the get-go, especially if you spend your first night at The Pig, which is renowned for its rustic-chic rooms and delicious farm-to-table cuisine. It's within walking distance of the route's most easterly point, Old Harry Rocks.

 

A post shared by VisitEngland (@visitengland) on

These giant chalk stacks are among the most Insta-worthy sights on a constantly-eroding coastline that also features Durdle Door, a natural arch that you can kayak through, and the sheer sandstone cliffs of West Bay, which you'll recognise from Broadchurch and Far From The Madding Crowd, the 2015 movie adaptation of Hardy's 19th century novel. Walking beneath - or on top of - them is a spinetingling experience.

For more road-trips ideas, check out this Cornish Loop that spans about 450km of the most south-westerly part of the British mainland.

 

Did you know?

The coastlines of Dorset, Devon and Cornwall are skirted by the 1014km South West Coastal Path. It would take at least a month to cover it all on foot, but you can tackle shorter sections. 
 

Latest Blogs

10 amazing things to see and do in Oxford

Punting on the river in Oxford
10 amazing things to see and do in Oxford

10 amazing things do in Cambridge

Cambridge
10 amazing things do in Cambridge

Britain's beautiful ice rinks you can't miss this winter

Eden Project ice rink
Britain's beautiful ice rinks you can't miss this winter

Get that Christmas feeling with Britain's favourite festive experiences

Get that Christmas feeling with Britain's favourite festive experiences

Places to experience a real British Christmas

Places to experience a real British Christmas