Dear Mummy, over the Spring break, on the odd day we didn’t have rain, we ventured to the coast. Thankfully we didn’t have far to travel as we stayed in the New Forest and with a quick jaunt south we were on the beach.
We we headed to Highcliffe Beach near Christchurch on the Hampshire/Dorset border. We’d heard that this was the best place to explore the coastline looking for fossils near the New Forest. We didn’t have time on our Easter break to visit the popular Jurassic Coast further up in Dorset. We parked at Highcliffe which has a large car park with RingGo, toilets and an excellent cafe next to it. After a short walk down the steep hill we could see the sea and the beach.
Armed with my trusty net and overalls we walked in the direction of Barton-On-Sea further up the beach in search for the mysterious Barton Clay at the base of the cliffs. Barton-on-Sea is famous for its hundreds of different species of shells that can be found in the mud and rock. The stretch of coastline between Highcliffe and Barton have beds rich with sharks’ teeth, fish and mammal remains. This site is a site of special scientific interest which means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted.
Climbing the cliffs at Barton on Sea is highly dangerous because of the thick gooey mud so we walked along the sand, jumping up occasionally to dodge the surf. We definitely recommend visiting at low tide for children, as the sea can often reach the base of the cliffs like it did on the day we visited. We headed out while the tide was mid high and had fun dodging the waves as we moved further down the beach. At high tide sharks’ teeth can be found out lying on the sand around along with fish pieces in flints.
After heavy rainfall it’s common to find fossils in the slippages but as it’s dangerous it should only be attempted if the clay is stable in the dryer summer months. Although climbing the cliffs is not recommended, many of the cliff slippages are full of shells, as rain water has washed then out of the clay. We were lucky enough to find a fossilised shell on our first visit embedded in the mud which fell out easily and we inspected it with pride.
The Barton Clay/mud is famous for over 600 species of shells. We were super impressed at how easy it was to find treasure, and the other families we spoke to while on the beach had finds too. Apparently we found a 400 year-old shell according to a passerby we showed it too.
The specimen we found was super fragile and we used my net and tissue paper to wrap it up and keep it safe. All you need is a good eye and patience, as most fossil fragments can be picked off the foreshore without too much work and its a great way to spend a sunny day. When we weren’t hunting for fossils we made use of the beautiful location, eating a picnic and dipping our toes in the freezing water.
This trip is great preparation for when we eventually hit the Jurassic Coast in Dorset as we’d love to visit Lyme Regis this summer and go hunting on the beaches down there. Alas it’s another hour in the car further down the coast towards Weymouth, so a trip will have to wait until the next school holidays. Check out our video vlog of our trip into the New Forest on our channel.
Have you ever been fossil hunting in the UK? If so, did you find any special fossils?
Let us know in the comments.
25 thoughts on “Bella the Fossil Hunter!”
Looks like you had a fantastic time! Great to see the weather held out for you
We often go to this part of Dorset but we’ve not explored Highcliffe before, it looks great. I’ll add it to our summer hit list, thanks Mich x
How lovely! – we tried to take our daughter fossil hunting when she was in the midst of the terrible twos and as you can imagine it didn’t go so well but no she is older we’d love to take her again as I think she would really appreciate and love it!
We have never gone fossil hunting before. Sounds like an adventure.
How adorable is Bella! Her and Ross from Friends would get on like a house on fire wouldnt they!
Ah what fun! We always try to fossil hunt when we are down that way!
Sounds like so much fun. I’d love to take my son fossil hunting when he’s a bit older. I wonder if there are any good sites to explore here in Portugal. And well done on finding that shell, it looks amazing!
We love fossil hunting too Bella. It’s so exciting when you find something. If you are near by, visit Seaton Jurassic when you are down south. You’ll learn lots about fossils there
The perfect way to spend a few hours. I love fossil hunting and so do the kids. Free, fun and educational! Have fun visiting the Jurassic coast. We are aiming to visit very soon too 🙂
Thanks Hazel! We can’t wait to go and find the big fossils up the coastline!
This is something we want to do with the kids, thank you for suggesting this location.
I have been fossil hunting in the past when I was younger and I always had so much fun. However I really want to be able to go to Jurassic Coast at some point as it is beautiful and who knows I might find a dinosaur?!
How fun! We are off to Hampshire in June not sure if we will get to see someone like this but it looks fun to explore.
If you are fossil hunting in Dorset I would recommend Charmouth over Lyme Regis (the visitor centre is fab and shows you what to look for) and Kimmeridge has some great easily visible ones too
Ah what a great day out! It looks lots of fun. I used to love spending summer days in Lyme Regis. We used to go crabbing there. Another great outdoor activity with the kids! I’ve never been fissile hunting though it’ll be a great activity with the kids when they’re a bit older. Thanks for joining us at #familyfun
Great photos…looks like a lot of fun.
Popping over from #CountryKids xx
It looks like such a wonderful place to explore, my girls would love this
Wow what a beautiful discovery. We found two ammonites embedded in a pebble on the beach at Charmouth a few years ago which was very exciting #CountryKids
We are really lucky to live about 45 minutes from Charmouth and Lyme Regis so have never thought about visiting the beaches Christchurch way – would definitely love to take a look – TJ would enjoy finding shark’s teeth I reckon! #countrykids
Wow that is a lovely fossil you found there and it just goes to show that a little patience and careful looking will show them up. What a great way to enjoy a beach day, especially when it is not warm enough for sea dipping. We like to go fossil hunting in the chalk pits of the south downs, Farmer Nick I discovered is a bit of an expert and happily shared all he knew with our kids. I’ve never thought to look at the beach. I wonder if there are good beaches to look at around us, I’ll have to investigate.
Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids
I love fossil hunting but rarely do it so we must find time, that shell is a great find! Thanks for the inspiration #CountryKids
I’ve never been fossil hunting and it sounds such fun. I love the fossil shell that you managed to find and it looks like you had lots of fun exploring too. #countrykids
My hubby would love to take his girls on a fossil adventure. I’ve traveled the Jurassic Coast before but have yet to experience it in all it’s glory. #countrykids
I grew up in Bournemouth so know this area well – the fossils you can find are amazing #familyfunlinky
great post so good to see the younger generation interested in fossils!