Charmouth is a beautiful seaside village, and one of the gateways to the world famous Jurassic Coast. Charmouth was also novelist Jane Austen’s favourite seaside resort, and with its stunning ancient coastline, dramatic cliffs, and blue flag bathing beach, it’s easy to see why.
Surrounded by rolling countryside and picturesque woodland, Charmouth is perfectly located for coastal or rural walks, boat or beach fishing, family days at the beach, and relaxing strolls through the pretty village with its friendly shops and cosy pubs.
If you'd like to discover more about the Jurassic Coast, the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is worth visiting for its amazing fossil collections and guided fossil hunts that give you the chance to uncover an ancient relic of your own.
Meanwhile, the picturesque seaside resort of Lyme Regis is just a 10-minute drive away and home to a wide range of shops, cafés and restaurants, as well as the Lyme Regis Museum, Lyme Regis Aquarium, and Marine Theatre.
If you're looking for a day out, there are several family-friendly attractions within easy reach, including the Axe Valley Wildlife Park, Seaton Tramway and Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary, all of which are just over the border in East Devon.
A holiday cottage in Charmouth makes a stunning base for enjoying the many rural and coastal charms of Dorset, whilst being convenient for venturing over the border into East Devon too.
Featuring beautiful fossil collections, guided fossil hunting walks, rock pooling walks along the local coastline and even the opportunity to meet the Charmouth Dinosaur, Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is a small charity and is free to visit, although they do welcome donations. A charming family day out, it’s a chance to learn about the local coastal and marine wildlife with facilities including interactive computers, hands on displays, marine tanks and a video microscope. They also have Jurassic Theatre shows of a short film on The Jurassic coast and finding fossils at Charmouth (adults £1, children 50p), and of course there’s a souvenir shop.
Welcoming visitors and members alike, Lyme Regis Golf Club occupies a cliff top location with views over the Jurassic coastline towards Portland Bill, and overlooking the historic town and World Heritage Site of Lyme Regis. Although originally just nine holes, the course was extended to the full 18 after 1934. These days the course measures 6283 yards par 71. Green fees for a full round start at £40 and there’s a clubhouse with a bar and restaurant as well.
Lyme Regis and the Jurassic Coast have a wealth of natural history to explore, but alongside that, they also have a fascinating literary background. Literary Lyme Walking Tours take you on a journey through the setting of films and novels, introducing you to the inspiration behind famous characters and following in the footsteps of authors who chose to visit and live in the area including Jane Austen and Mary Anning. Tours are themed to particular genres and authors, such as the Jane Austen tours or the French Lieutenant's Woman tours. The walks range in times and prices so for more information get in touch or take a peek at their website!
Standing where Dorset meets Devon, the Lyme Regis Museum is on the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and was built on the site of fossilist Mary Anning’s home. A chance to discover Lyme’s history, geology, fossils, artists and writers, from J M Whistler to Jane Austen and John Fowles, the museum stands in the heart of the town and is run almost entirely by volunteers. Collections range from interesting to quirky displays with walks and events scheduled throughout the season, so keep an eye on the website for more information. The museum is open from Easter to November and prices start at £3.95 for adults while children and students go free.
A private museum that’s owned and run by Palaeontologist Steve Davies and his wife Jenny, Dinosaurland Fossil Museum contains a spectacular collection of the local Jurassic marine fossils. The collection grows each year, meaning there’s always something new to see, with more than 10,000 specimens to show people just how exciting and wonderful the world of fossils and dinosaurs really is. Even the building itself has an interesting pedigree as the pioneering fossil hunter Mary Anning was baptised here on 27th June 1799 and continued to worship here until about 1830. She discovered the first Ichthyosaur on the beaches here in 1811. Opening times are seasonal, but it is open every day through the summer with admission fees at £5 for adults and £4 for children.
An intimate boutique hotel restaurant set in the splendour of a regency villa, where chef and owner Ian creates his dishes from home grown and locally sourced produce. With a daily changing menu, the White House has won Gold for the last five years in the Taste of the West Awards. Booking recommended.
The White House Hotel 2 Hillside, The St, Charmouth DT6 6PJ (T: 01297 560411)
Perfect for family days out, Charmouth Beach is a mix of sand and pebbles, fossils (for which the area is famous), good swimming and good surf. It is divided into two distinct areas (East and West) by the mouth of the River Char, which often forms a lagoon suitable for boating or watching the ducks swim past. To get to the beach, simply find the centre of the village and follow Lower Sea Lane. There are ample car parks close to the beach as well as another one half way down Lower Sea Lane if those are full. Dogs are allowed on the West beach as long as they are on leads from 1st May and 30th September between the sea defenses and Lyme Regis but not on the area of beach in front of the beach huts and the Heritage Centre. From 1st July to 31st August dogs are not allowed on East Beach between 10:00am and 6:00pm, but are welcome outside these hours. At East Beach there is a beach café and picnic tables close by, and in the summer months there is a bouncy castle. There are also lots of beautiful walks close by to enjoy. West Beach meanwhile is about a mile and a half long and is a haven for fossil hunters and avid rock-poolers.
A fine shingle beach with sand at the water’s edge, East Cliff Beach is a beautiful place to spend the day with the family on summer holidays in Dorset. There’s lifeguard cover from July to September in the summer holidays on East Beach itself, but that doesn’t really cover East Cliff Beach, so just be careful when and where you swim and stay away from the cliff base to avoid falling stones. There’s a long stay car park behind East Beach and a smaller short stay car park just before entering the harbour area in front of the Bridport Arms Hotel. Toilets are located at the main West Bay Road car park and baby changing facilities are provided as well. Dogs are permitted on the beach all year round, but it is a clean zone that’s regularly patrolled by wardens imposing fines, so don’t forget to clean up after your pets!
Famous for its picturesque Jurassic coastline, as well as its array of fossils, Church Cliff Beach is on the edge of Lyme Regis town. Sandy in places, at low tide there is an extensive rock ledge with hundreds of rock pools where you can catch shrimp. The River Lym flows into the bay, so paddling is a necessity if you want to stroll on the sand. The beach is flanked by rock armour which protects the promenade, and the sand is covered at high tide. There’s paid parking close by, so don’t forget your change. There are facilities, restaurants and cafes in the town. There’s no lifeguard cover on this beach, and dogs are permitted all year round, which is great news for walkers as it also makes up part of the West Dorset Heritage Coast and its accompanying footpaths.
In the picturesque harbour town of Lyme Regis, Town Beach is covered in pebbles at one end thanks to the coastal protection scheme that placed them there to provide essential care for the Marine Parade and the buildings along it. At the other end the beach has been built up with sand, no longer gets covered at high tide and provides an extensive beach area manned by RNLI lifeguards in the summer. There are kiosks, cafes, shops and restaurants bordering the beach, so it’s ideal for visiting with family and spending the whole day on the sand if the weather allows. The main sandy beach in the area, it’s a delight and easy to get to when on holiday in Dorset. There is paid parking nearby, so don’t forget your change, and remember that dogs are not permitted from 1st April to 31st October, while from 1st November to 31st March they must be on leads.
This pretty harbour town dates back to the 14th century, and is sheltered by a curving harbour wall, The Cobb, as its known contains a small sandy beach made famous in the opening shot of the film The French Lieutenant’s Woman. You reach the beach between the RNLI station and the slipway, and there is lifeguard cover in the summer months. Activities nearby include fishing, sailing, snorkeling, kayaking, swimming, surfing and water skiing, while facilities close to the beach include cafes and restaurants and toilets. There are lots of walks in the area including guided tours of the famous fossil bearing cliffs. There is paid parking nearby, Axminster train station is five minutes away as the crow flies and buses are available to the town centre. Dogs are allowed on the beach from 1st November to 30th March as long as they’re on the lead, but they are not permitted in the summer months.