The weather in Dorset over the Bank Holiday weekend was apparently hotter than in Spain, We took advantage of this and decided to head to Charmouth Beach in Dorset to find some fossils. Charmouth is a beach we haven’t visited before, but it’s one of the best beaches in Dorset for fossil hunting.
Parking At Charmouth Beach
There is plenty of parking available in one of the many car parks close to Charmouth Beach. We opted for the main beach car park next to the Heritage Centre, Charmouth, Bridport DT6 6LS.
Parking is in unmarked bays and cost £4 flat charge if arriving before 3pm, £3 after 3pm and £2 after 5pm. If this car park is full, there are plenty of other well sign posted options very close by.
Remember to take cash as the parking meters were cash only when we visited and the nearest cash point was in a convenience store a couple of minutes drive away.
Charmouth Beach Fossil Hunting
The coastline at Charmouth is part of the World Heritage site which is also known as the Jurassic Coast.
We decided to try and fossil hunt on West Beach which is just across the bridge from the car park which stretches for around a mile and a half towards Lyme Regis.
As Charmouth Beach is such a popular beach in Dorset for fossil hunting, everything is well sign posted for you. There is a handy guide at the base of the car park, telling you the popular areas to find the fossils along the beach.
If you want to hire a fossil hammer, you can do so in the beach shop next to the Heritage Coast Centre. You can also take a look inside the Heritage centre museum at some of the amazing fossils that have been found by members of the public.
As with anything there are some safety rules that apply to fossil hunting. The main one being that hammering along the cliff edge is not permitted.
Where are the fossils on Charmouth Beach?
We began our search for fossils in the larger stony area near the sea. There are some lovely stones and gems to be found, it’s a little bit like searching for treasure not knowing what you’ll find.
The fossils are generally found loose on the beach after they have been washed out of the cliffs.
How to find fossils?
Our technique was formed by finding a large solid flat stone or rock deeply embedded in the sand. We used this as a base and then found a stone with a sharp edge (or close to) to act as a hammer. Any stones we then wanted to break open in the search for fossils was made a little easier.
My fossil hunting was searching for interesting looking stones that already had formations on, but there are just so many, and we soon learned that the best stones to find fossils in are sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, limestone or shale.
It didn’t take too long before we had some success. An already broken stone showing a great ammonite fossil was uncovered, and shortly followed by cries of “I’ve found one” as stones were broken open.
If you’d prefer to be part of a guided fossil hunting walk, these can be booked in the Heritage Centre.
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Rock Pools at Charmouth Beach
Charmouth Beach also has some great rock pools when the tide is out. Abby does enjoy uncovering creatures in rock pools, and we spent hours on the beach at Doniford Bay when we stayed a few years ago.
Dog Walking On Charmouth Beach
Having been away from Lola for almost two weeks whilst we’d been on holiday, we were keen to take her with us to Charmouth. Dogs are welcome on West beach all year around but between May 1st and October 1st they must be kept on leads. East beach is a dog free zone between 1st July – 31st August 10am – 6pm.
Lola loves the beach and she’ll spend ages chasing her ball around and jumping the waves. Whilst it was busy on the beach there was plenty of room for her to run around. We always have to keep her on the lead when there are picnics around as she’s really not fussy who’s picnic she steals!
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Jurassic Coast Path
Charmouth Beach runs alongside the South West coast path, part of the Jurassic Coast. There are some amazing hills along the top of the beach which would be brilliant walking practice for a Macmillan Mighty Hike.