Charmouth is situated at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast, an ancient coastline of dramatic cliffs, fossils and beautiful scenery.
Beach and Coast
The beach at Charmouth is world renowned for its abundance of fossilised remains and as such, attracts scores of enthusiastic fossil hunters annually.
The cliffs here are easily eroded by the sea, which washes away the soft rock to reveal hidden fossils of the creatures that swam in what was once a tropical seabed millions of years ago. You can literally pick the fossils up as you walk along the beach.
The Heritage Centre, situated on the sea front, hosts regular walks, talks and fossil hunting expeditions throughout the year and is incredibly popular with both young families and experienced geologists alike. With free entry to the centre, visitors can view the amazing fossil collections including the incredible ichthyosaur that starred in the BBC documentary ‘Attenborough and the Sea Dragon’ and explore the past and present of this unique coastline.
For first time fossil hunters, a great place to start is by joining one of the scheduled walks to learn all the best tips and tricks on how to safely find your own fossils on the beach.
Charmouth beach is very family friendly and at low tide, children can forage amongst the many rockpools and paddle in the shallows on West Beach.
Aside from beaches and fossils, the village itself is encapsulated by the Golden Cap Estate’s rolling hills, pastoral fields, sunken lanes, ancient hedgerows which all lie within the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Its idyllic position on the coast makes it a mecca for walkers and is home to some superb coastal and inland footpaths.
Nearby Stonebarrow Hill is an attractive picnic spot (if you’re willing to brave the climb!) and the path following the River Char takes you on a pretty ramble to the quaint village of Whitchurch Canonicorum.
Charmouth has a wide range of places to eat, from traditional pubs and restaurants, beach side cafes and some fantastic fish and chips!
The village itself is an elegant mix of Regency houses and thatched cottages which neatly line the steep streets.
Charmouth can boast a wealthy range of famous visitors including Catherine of Aragon, who stayed at the villages oldest residence The Queen’s Arms in 1501 when it was still privately owned and also Charles 2nd, who also stayed in the building in 1651 when he was looking to flee to the continent.
Furthermore, Jane Austen is known to have been a frequent visitor to Charmouth, describing it as a place of “high grounds and extensive sweeps of country, and, still more, its sweet retired bay, beached by dark cliffs where fragments of low rock among the sands make it the happiest spot for watching the flow of the tide; for sitting in unwearied contemplation”.
Important safety notice about the risk of cliff falls: Following the cliff and rock falls along the coast, we urge you to stay well back from the edges when using the coast path along the cliff top, and away from the undercliff when on the beaches. Please take heed of safety signs on site – these cliffs are unstable and liable to rock falls at any time.
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