My Kind of Place: the Jurassic Coast, UK
Why the Jurassic Coast?
Set on Britain’s south-west coast and split between the counties of Dorset and Devon, the Jurassic Coast (www.jurassiccoast.org) is a 150-kilometre strip of spectacular coastal scenery, embedded with a continuous sequence of rock formations that illustrate the Earth’s history over a period of 185 million years. In 2001, it was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.
With its succession of golden sandy beaches, iconic landmarks and seaside towns, the Jurassic Coast makes for a great seaside holiday – whether you fancy fossil hunting, strolling on the beach or dining on delicious fresh seafood.
A comfortable bed
The Alexandra Hotel and Restaurant (www.hotelalexandra.co.uk) in Lyme Regis is a top-notch boutique hotel, tastefully decorated, with lovely private gardens and beautiful views of Lyme Bay. The hotel has direct access to the coast, and upscale dining. Double rooms cost from £180 (Dh849), including breakfast.
You don’t need to stay on the coast itself – there are some wonderful cottages inland. The Shippen (www.toadhallcottages.co.uk/holiday-cottages/the-shippen-honiton/1587) is an outstanding luxury barn conversion near the town of Honiton, beautifully renovated, with a vast open-plan living space complete with modern fitted kitchen, exposed stonework and wooden beams, and two double bedrooms upstairs. Honiton is on the main railway line from London and less than half an hour’s drive from Lyme Regis. The property sleeps up to five and costs from £450 (Dh2,123) per week.
Find your feet
The Jurassic Coaster bus service (www.jurassiccoast.org/discover/travel-information/jurassic-coast-bus-services) makes it easy to get between the coast’s various towns and landmarks.
Walking west from Lyme Regis along Monmouth Beach at low tide brings you to one of the most breathtaking sights on the Jurassic Coast – the so-called ammonite graveyard, a limestone ledge embedded with hundreds of large, fossilised ammonites. Obviously you shouldn’t try to dislodge or collect them – the area is strictly protected.
Farther west, at Orcombe Point, you will find cliffs made from layers of red mudstone and sandstone, laid down in a desert 250 million years ago.
Heading east from Lyme Regis, highlights include Charmouth Beach (a fossil-hunter’s paradise) and Lulworth Cove, with its iconic limestone arch.
A short distance inland, the East Devon and Blackdown Hills Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are well worth exploring.
Meet the locals
As befits an English seaside town, favourite local hangouts in Lyme Regis are likely to include a pub and a fish-and-chip shop. Herbies Dino Bar (www.facebook.com/herbies.dinobar.5), an unassuming little kiosk down on the waterfront, is frequently tipped as serving the best fish and chips in town. Grab a nearby bench or sit on the beach.
Book a table
Crab House Café (www.crabhousecafe.co.uk) in Wyke Regis serves glisteningly fresh seafood from local fishing boats (all of their fish is landed within 65km) and their own oyster beds, in a balmy setting just above the beach. Mains cost from about £14 (Dh66) and include the likes of lemon sole fillet stuffed with crab and cheese. A dozen Portland royal oysters go for £21 (Dh99).
Tierra Kitchen (www.tierrakitchen.co.uk) in Lyme Regis is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant. Dishes have a strong Mediterranean and French influence, prepared with a modern twist, with an emphasis on locally sourced, seasonal and organic produce. Their two-course set menu costs £19.50 (Dh92) and includes dishes such as sweet potato koftas served with sumac-pickled rainbow carrots, almond duqqa, pomegranate and Greek yogurt.
The Olive Tree Restaurant (www.olivetreerestaurant.net) in Bridport, east of Lyme Regis, is another top choice for seafood. The Spectacular – a selection of seasonal shellfish and seafood simmered with vegetables and cream, and topped with the catch of the day – costs £22.50 (Dh106).
For fossil-related gifts and souvenirs, head to the shop at the Lyme Regis Museum (www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk).
Honiton is famous for its lace (a tradition stretching back 400 years), which you can buy modern examples of in the small Allhallows Museum (www.honitonmuseum.co.uk).
What to avoid
If you’re doing any fossil hunting, remember that you should only collect fossils that are lying loose on the beach (they will fall there when eroded from the surrounding cliffs) – never try to pry or dislodge one from the rock because you will destroy it, along with the scientific value of the rock it’s embedded in.
Fossils. Charmouth, just east of Lyme Regis, is one of the best hunting spots. Increase your chances of finding something by joining a guided fossil walk (www.lymeregismuseum.co.uk/events/category/walks/fossil-walks). The Jurassic Coast website also has a handy fossil database (www.jurassiccoast.org/fossilfinder) that will help you tell your ammonites from your belemnites.
Emirates (www.emirates.com), Etihad (www.etihad.com) and British Airways (www.ba.com) fly from the UAE to London from Dh2,600 return, including taxes. Trains (www.southwesttrains.co.uk) from London Waterloo to Axminster take about two hours 20 minutes and cost from £19 (Dh90) one way, with a bus service covering the final 8km into Lyme Regis. Alternatively Etihad code-share partners Flybe (www.flybe.com) fly from London to Exeter, a 40-minute drive from Lyme Regis.
Updated: June 28, 2017 04:00 AM