Dear Mummy, we love heading to the south coast at the weekends, but with so much to offer from sandy beaches, fishing villages and historical places of interest the British coastline is more than just a two-day destination. We usually find that when we are due good weather the motorways are jammed packed, so it’s good to have a bolt-hole near the coast or to leave super early to beat the traffic. Everyone has the same idea and the best way to enjoy the snippets of good weather is a trip to the seaside with local accommodation.
We’ve partnered with Parkdean Resorts for their #CoastalAdventures campaign to share an insight into what the British coastline has to offer for families opting for a staycation. We spent a weekend exploring the famous Jurassic coast, Dorset where you’ll find Parkdean Resort’s West Bay Holiday Park.
Even though we live within the golden 2 hour journey time from Dorset, we’ve never thought about holidaying there….until now. I’m fascinated by anything historic and I’m learning all about dinosaurs and fossils at school. There’s nothing better than nurturing a child’s passion so we made the trip to the far end of West Dorset to Lyme Regis, the home of Mary Anning, the most famous fossil hunter of all time!
Check out our video of fun things to do in the area…
Lyme Regis – The Cobb
Our first stop on our coastal adventure was Lyme Regis, a town in West Dorset. It is nicknamed “The Pearl of Dorset” and sits on the Dorset–Devon border. Many fossils have been found in the cliffs and beaches around this coastline better known as the Jurassic Coast which is a World Heritage Site.
The harbour wall known as “The Cobb” appears in Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion and this is where we started our adventure. We arrived early in the morning to get the panoramic views and enjoy the stillness and there are plenty of car parks on the shoreline charging around £1 per hour.
It definitely was a hair-raising walk to the end of Lyme’s famous man-made harbour wall and thankfully the sea was calm and the water like a duck-pond. The Cobb curves around Lyme Harbour and out into the open water and with no barriers, children need to be watched like a hawk, however it’s worth the panoramic views of the Dorset coastline stretching all the way from Monmouth beach to Chesil Beach.
On the walk back towards the shore we found the steps known as ‘granny’s teeth’ jutting out from The Cobb wall with big gaps in between the stone steps. I had fun scaling them with the help of my Grandma. I was fascinated watching the boats and canoeists paddling on the water and the deliveries of fresh fish being brought in by the fishermen.
We were very lucky with the weather and the water was crystal blue, but we’d imagine this stretch of coastline quite dramatic in the winter months. We loved walking along the promenade and the street lamps with an ammonite design reflect the town’s location on the Jurassic Coast as the gateway to 95 miles of dramatic coastline. It’s such a bustling place with lots of beach hut vendors and places to buy the ‘catch of the day’.
Lyme Regis – The Beach
The Jurassic coast runs directly from Lyme, up to the Golden Cap, dips briefly at West Bay then trickles away to the point of Portland towards Weymouth. If we had more time we would have liked to have gone out on a boat cruise but you can also walk the coastline on the SW path.
We were super impressed with the beach at Lyme Regis and we visited when the tide was out which revealed ripples of sand in the water and we only had to dodge one shelf of stones to get into the water. Even though the water was initially cold our bodies soon warmed up and whole family enjoyed a dip. I could see my feet through the clear water and even spotted some fish.
I loved building sand castles and watching the paddle boarders leave the shore, it definitely was quieter in the morning and soon heated up towards midday when all the day trippers arrived.
Lyme Regis – Fish & Chips
After a full morning spent on the beach we sought shade for lunch and ducked into a restaurant on the promenade called ‘SWIM’. Far away from the pesky seagulls we enjoyed fresh fish and chips and my mummy even had a ‘dell-boy’ Piña colada much to the waiters amusement.
Lyme Regis – The Arcades
Afterwards, with our bellies full, we walked next door and headed to the arcades to play on the coin machines and collect tokens in exchange for a prize. I even had my fortune told by Zoltar, which was quite creepy!
Lyme Regis – Antiques and Craft Centre
We then swapped the arcade for antiques and headed next door to Lyme Regis Antiques and Craft Centre. My mummy could have spent the whole afternoon in here looking at the shelves and cabinets filled with treasure, I on the other hand was desperate for an ice-cream so our time here was cut short, much to my mummy’s disappointment.
She left empty-handed without any knick-knacks however did enjoy looking at the vintage clothes, coins, jewellery and old-fashioned toys. We took a leisurely stroll down toward the main high street and the local shops on a quest to find the Lyme Regis Museum as the heat of the day was getting unbearable.
Lyme Regis – Fossil Museum
Lyme Regis is renowned for its fossils and discoveries. I wanted to follow in the footsteps of local girl Mary Anning who was a palaeontologist (that’s a fancy word for fossil hunter) It was easy to find the The Lyme Regis Museum as it was clearly signposted and built on Mary’s former home.
At £4.95 per adult and under 6’s go free it was a great distraction from the ice cream parlours and shops. The visit was pretty educational for my mummy too. Mary Anning’s 19th-century ichthyosaur and plesiosaur finds were pretty inspiring. No wonder the local beaches are still combed to this day!
The museum has three floors with interesting displays centred around a spiral staircase which reminds us of an ammonite. We learned about Lyme Regis’ fascinating history with stories of sea disasters, dinosaur finds and crumbling cliffs, even a section on the railway and a kids area for educational learning.
My mummy found the connection with writers, artists and poets fascinating. Afterwards we popped across the road to the Fossil Shop, where we had the opportunity to buy a bit of Lyme Regis fossil history.
With sand in our hair and ice cream faces we headed back to the caravan where we were staying with Parkdean a little further up the coast, ready for our next adventure…
My mummy has always wanted to visit the home of Broadchurch which is actually a small harbour resort called West Bay. It’s further up the Dorset coast towards Weymouth and Portland, next to the Golden Cap. On our weekend we squeezed in a trip to West Bay and Bridport as we stayed local.
This location is now famous thanks to ITV’s hit drama, Broadchurch. With the iconic honeycombed cliffs rippling down the coastline and a sea of cobalt blue it really is breathtaking. On the day we visited speedboats raced past as the powerboat championships were on, people lined the sea walls to take in the spectacle. Companies also chartered boat trips from the harbour and if I was feeling braver we would have gone out on a rib, maybe next time. Daddy would have been jealous!
We enjoyed sitting by the harbour enjoying our ice creams and we sampled something called a ‘Volcano Ice’ which was 2 hot donuts and Mr Whippy ice cream with sauce and sprinkles. It was mouth-watering and we were impressed with the amount of vendors selling traditional seaside treats around the harbour. There were lots of pesky seagulls to contend with so we had to watch our fish & chips!
West Bay was very picturesque and it was nice just to relax and watch the world go by. The beaches at West Bay are stoney, so make sure you wear trainers or decks and they seem to have a lot of events on during the summer months. We did manage to have a paddle but it wasn’t a patch on Lyme Regis the day before.
Check out our video to see more of our West Bay Adventure!
If it wasn’t so hot on the day we visited we would have scaled the Golden Cap too – it’s the highest peak on the coastline which can be accessed from West Bay. We saw walkers hike up the sandy track to take in the amazing views. We tried to walk along the seafront but the seashore path was sectioned off due to the crumbling cliffs, a shame really as I bet there were some amazing fossil finds in all the debris.
On the Jurassic coast you could spend a day just searching for fossils and with some amazing beaches like Kimmeridge and Charmouth, locals and tourists go to discover fallen treasure from the bedrock and washed up on the shore.
In the evening we headed inland to Bridport, a market town just north of West Bay for a couple of essentials. The sky was already turning a lovely shade of pink when we left the caravan. The town is full of restaurants and has a great Saturday Market, which we sadly missed. Bridport has a strong connection with West Bay, as it was the centre of rope making and supplied a lot of nets to fishermen on the coast and the Navy.
There are over 1000 listed buildings of historical or architectural merit in Bridport and many of these are associated with the rope making industry within the town. Another attraction we’d like to visit is Bridport Museum, which has recently been refurbished and has lots of displays about rope making, fossils and roman artefacts.
There’s absolutely no way to see everything there is to do on the Jurassic Coast in a weekend but we wanted to give you guys a flavour of what can be found in this part of Dorset. It’s now convinced us to stay for longer and explore Weymouth, Charmouth, Kimmeridge and Portland.
Are you planning any adventures to the great British coastline in 2018? If so, why not share your pictures and videos on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #CoastalAdventures.
Love Bella x
Disclosure: This post and videos have been produced in partnership with Parkdean Resorts. We received overnight accommodation at West Bay in return for some social media and blog coverage. All thoughts, opinions and tummy aches are our own!