Charmouth Holiday Guide

Discovering the sunny seaside town of Charmouth

Set on the mouth of the River Char – where the dramatic cliffs of the Jurassic Coast relent, and the gleaming waters of Lyme Bay meet sandy shores – the seaside village of Charmouth remains one of the region’s holiday gems.


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This quiet, rural village on the western fringes of Dorset plays host to an impressive collection of Toad Hall holiday cottages. Regarded as one of the most majestic sweeps along the South West peninsula, Charmouth is particularly popular with walkers and all those who thrive from the great outdoors; its relentless footpaths seeking out numerous staging posts for some of the most magnificent coastal views in the region. Charmouth Beach is a well-known haunt for fossil hunters and budding palaeontologists who eagerly scout the strandline for ammonites and other tell-tale signs of a fascinating prehistoric past – in fact, so precious is the Jurassic Coast, it has been recognised as a World Heritage Site. Whether you’re in search of action and adventure or serenity and solace, there’s a holiday for everyone in Charmouth.

Things to do in and around Charmouth…

Where better to start than the golden sweep of Charmouth Beach. Nominated by BBC Countryfile Magazine as one of the UK’s five ‘Best Beaches’, and the only UK entry to be featured in the National Geographic’s 21 Best Beaches in the World, this iconic stretch of the Jurassic Coast makes an exquisite holiday setting. The mouth of the River Char divides the beach in two, sometimes forming a lush turquoise lagoon at low tide. Dogs are allowed on the West Beach at any time but must remain on leads during the summer season (1st May – 30th Sep).


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If you’d like to know more about Charmouth’s prehistoric past, a visit to the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is just the ticket and offers up a fascinating family day out. The centre welcomes more than one hundred thousand visitors annually, enthralling both young and old with its exhibitions, displays, marine tanks and microscopes. This heritage hub also coordinates fossil walks and rock-pooling safaris, perfect for all those budding explorers with a thirst for knowledge and a spirit for adventure.

The sparkling Lyme Bay waters provide the ideal playground for water sports enthusiasts with a whole host of waterborne activities on offer for all ages and levels of experience. Maybe you’re in the mood for some exercise and adventure, a chance to work on your core balance while admiring a brilliant sunset? If so, Jurassic SUP and Fitness offer lessons, safaris and group events for stand up paddle boarders while also boasting a long list of glowing testimonials. Less than two miles down the coast can be found one of the region’s high-octane, white-knuckle experiences: Lyme RIB Rides run sea cruises up and down the Jurassic Coast with the full thrust of a 250 break horse power outboard engine adding plenty of adrenaline to the proceedings.


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Set in the rolling Dorset countryside and surrounded by enchanting woodland, the Symondsbury Estate is the perfect escape for all those in search of peace and tranquillity. Amongst the estate’s many sun-dappled walks is Colmers Hill where you can sit amongst the wildflowers and enjoy the stunning panorama.

A legend among deep sea fishermen, Harry May is one of the south coast’s most knowledgeable anglers. Jump aboard one of his custom-built fishing boats for an adventure of a lifetime with Lyme Regis’ most celebrated skipper at the helm. Reel in your very own ‘catch of the day’ and have it gently sizzling on the hob or grill back at your Dorset holiday cottage…Harry will even gut and fillet your haul before you head for home.

One for the book buffs and landlubbers: the Literary Lyme Walking Tours are a great way to discover the settings that inspired some of the nation’s most cherished novels. Follow in the footsteps of Jane Austen when you embark on the French Lieutenant’s Woman tour and walk the famous Cobb harbour to the spot where Hollywood actress Meryl Streep stood beneath the foreboding skies in the iconic scene from the multi award-winning film adaptation. Learn all about Mary Anning, who from humble beginnings became one of the world’s most eminent palaeologists, her fascination with fossils leading to some of the Jurassic Coast’s most incredible discoveries; including the bones of an ancient reptile known as an ichthyosaur (lizard fish) unearthed by Mary when she was just twelve years old! Also in the neighbouring seaside town of Lyme Regis are the Lister Gardens, where you can savour spectacular views of the bay and enjoy walks through award-winning landscape that’s home to an array of rare and unique wildlife. Another popular attraction in Lyme Regis is the Marine Theatre, which throughout its illustrious past has welcomed some of the UK’s top performers as part of an eclectic arts programme which continues to enrich the local community.


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What better way to explore East Devon’s beautiful pastures than on horseback, and who better to lead your pony trail than the Woodhouse Farm Stables. With more than twenty horses and ponies residing in this family-run equine centre, ranging from New Forests, Dutch Warm Blood, Irish Draughts and the impressive Boulannais, this dedicated band of horse enthusiasts can give you a trek to remember, welcoming all levels of experience to their homestead near the pretty Dorset village of Hawkchurch.

Among the many spectacular coastal walks to be discovered around Charmouth, the Golden Cap trail is perhaps one of the most scintillating. Standing a mighty six hundred and twenty-seven feet above sea level and boasting views as far as Portland Bill, Start Point and Dartmoor, this lofty pinnacle is part of the National Trust Golden Cap estate which is rich in all sorts of captivating flora and fauna. The Golden Cap is characterised by its deep orange sandstone which blazes at sundown, an awesome sight to behold from the surrounding golden shores. Truly one of the region’s most iconic landmarks.


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Places to eat in Charmouth…

With its gorgeous and far-reaching views of the surrounding pastures, The George Inn is a traditional country pub on the outskirts of Charmouth with a hearty and sumptuous menu, local ales and a family-friendly atmosphere.


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The Clock is a 16th century free house set in the pretty neighbouring village of Chideock on an ancient coach road. Surrounded by wildflower meadows, this thatched cottage pub has been recently refurbished and has all the classic hallmarks of a timeless hostelry.

With a plethora of prestigious awards to its name, The Anchor Inn continues to delight all those who visit. With a menu designed to ‘capture the spirit of Dorset’ and stunning views of the Jurassic Coast from its seaside perch, this much celebrated Seatown inn is one of the region’s hidden gems.

Tucked away off Charmouth’s Lower Sea Lane, near the banks of the River Char, is The Bank House. This popular seaside café serves breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea, the perfect place to while away an hour or two after your invigorating coastal walk. Sunday lunches are also a delicious draw at this ever-friendly Dorset eatery.

Nestled into the rolling West Dorset countryside, in the idyllic village of Morcombelake, is a tearoom of high distinction. Serving delightful food fayre throughout the day, from hearty full English breakfasts to afternoon cream teas, Annie’s Tea Rooms continues to garner glowing reviews and is a meeting place for all seasons. Dogs are also welcome patrons here.

It’s the ideal place to tuck into some classic seaside fodder. Not far from the beautiful long stretch of Charmouth Beach, Charmouth Fish Bar & Pizzeria has a moreish menu to satisfy the hungriest of appetites. Fish ‘n’ chips, freshly made pizzas, traditional pies and pasties, gourmet burgers, just some of the juicy delights on offer at this snazzy takeaway and restaurant.


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With its beautiful riverside setting close to the old Town Mill, The Millside restaurant in Lyme Regis prides itself on homecooked and locally sourced dishes that will surprise and delight. This lovely venue lies in the artisan quarter of the old town and consistently delivers memorable culinary experiences in sophisticated surrounds.

Part of the magnificent Symondsbury Estate, a spectacular acreage in the heart of West Dorset, the Symondsbury Kitchen has sculpted a menu to match its exquisite setting. Many of the ingredients are hand-picked from the estate’s vegetable gardens, making dining here a unique and homely experience.

With its spectacular cliffside setting and award-winning culinary team led by renowned gastronomist, Mark Hix, HIX Oyster & Fish House offers an unrivalled fine dining experience the whole family can enjoy. When you book a table, not only will you get to enjoy one of the most magnificent coastal panoramas in Dorset, you’ll also be in store for a repertoire of taste sensations.


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A Potted History of Charmouth

The origins of Charmouth lie in an Iron Age settlement and a Celtic tribe known as the Durotriges, its name deriving from the Saxon word ‘Cerne’ which means ‘a stony riverbed’. During the Middle Ages this stretch of the coast was vulnerable to marauders, with both Danes and Norsemen making regular raids described by one Saxon chronicler as a ‘cruel ravage and slaughter’ despite valiant defences led by the King of Wessex. According to the Domesday book, Cernemude was once little more than twenty or so farmsteads and sixteen acres of meadows and ploughland, however, during the 17th and 18th centuries many of the village’s more iconic buildings were raised. Arguably the village’s most history-steeped property is Abbots House (once The Queen’s Arms Hotel), a Grade II listed dwelling dating back to the early 16th century. This former tavern is reputed to have given shelter to the fugitive King Charles II before he fled to St Malo following his defeat at the Battle of Worcester, the final battle of the English Civil War. The village’s beautiful setting and gently shelving shingle beach made it a popular day trip for Victorian bathers enjoying the height of fashion, and that endearing and traditional seaside nostalgia remains prominent today.

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Charmouth…

Celebrated English novelist Jane Austen once famously said about Charmouth that it was ‘a nice place for sitting in unwearied contemplation’.

During the final days of the English Civil War, fugitive monarch King Charles II found shelter in Charmouth before fleeing to Brittany following his crushing defeat at the Battle of Worcester.

The fossilised bones of the incredible two hundred-million-year-old ichthyosaur, star of BBC documentary ‘Attenborough and the Sea Dragon’, is currently on display at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre.

2019 marks the first ever Charmouth Folk Festival with top musicians from around the region queuing up to play in this exclusive September event.

Charmouth FC, also known as ‘The Robins’, hold the local football league record for the most amount of goals scored during a single match, a 32-0 thumping of local rivals Stockland.

A holiday cottage in Charmouth provides a stunning base for enjoying the many rural and coastal charms of Dorset, conveniently placed for an adventure over the border and the rural idylls of East Devon.