Much of the coast line of East Devon and Dorset is natural and unspoilt, with hardly any development between the few towns and villages. Its brilliantly coloured cliffs - red shale, white chalk and yellow-buff sandstones - are of international importance on account of the almost complete geologic section through Mesozoic strata, in particular the Jurassic, which they display. It was at Lyme Regis that Mary Anning made an extensive collection of dinosaur fossils, and ammonite fossils can still be found. Scenic highlights include the jungle-like Undercliff, west of Lyme, and the long curving shingle bar of Chesil Bank between Abbotsbury and Portland. In recognition of the unique landscape and geology of the East Devon and Dorset coast, the UN’s cultural and scientific branch UNESCO in 2001 declared this coastline the first World Heritage Site for natural features on the British mainland. The crest of the coastal cliffs is closely followed by the South-West Coast Path national long distance trail, making this coast easily accessible to hikers and walkers.
‘Lovely views and countryside, well-planned walks – just the right length and time for us.’ - A and S Harper, July 2006.
The settlements along the way are full of character: the genteel Victorian seaside resort of Sidmouth, the pretty village of Beer where the fishing boats are winched up the shingle beach, Lyme Regis with its steep streets and mediaeval 'Cobb' (harbour wall), Abbotsbury with its tithe barn and swannery (both mediaeval) and 15th C St Catherine's chapel, the busy harbour of Weymouth. This south-facing coast is known for its mild and sunny climate and is a good place to hike at any time of year. Route-finding is easy with our detailed route descriptions, and the days of 12 to 20km (8 to 12 miles) are not strenuous, although there are frequent steep gradients both up and down. The tour is suitable for reasonably fit hikers with little or no previous experience of walking tours.
Reading. The mediaeval harbour or 'Cobb' of Lyme Regis has inspired novelists from Jane Austen (Persuasion) to John Fowles (The French Lieutenant's Woman). Thomas Hardy's light novel The Trumpet Major is set in Georgian Weymouth, while his more epic The Well-Beloved is set among the limestone quarries of Portland.
What a previous customer told us about our Jurassic Coast tour:
Jurassic Heritage Coast of Devon and Dorset - tour details 2014
A Discerning Traveller self-led hiking holiday
Duration: 5 or 8 nights. Other durations are possible. Please ask us for a quote.
Tour codes: J5 (Exmouth to Lyme Regis); J8 (Exmouth to Lulworth Cove).
Dates. Start any date April to mid-October. During some periods accommodation can be heavily booked. Please give alternative dates if possible.
Grade. Easy/Moderate. Daily distances range up to 20km/13 miles. Some gradients on the coastal paths are steep and strenuous. However most days can readily be shortened by using buses or taxis. Route-finding is generally easy.
Train stations. Start of tour Exmouth, end of tour Axminster (J5); Wool or Dorchester (J8).
Train service. Exmouth is reached by train from London Paddington or London Waterloo, changing trains once at Exeter, about 10 trains per day, journey time 3 to 4 hours. Axminster has direct trains to London Waterloo (c. 3 hours), or you can change trains at Exeter for faster trains to London Paddington. Dorchester South and Wool are linked by direct trains with London Waterloo, hourly service, journey time about 2.5 hours.
Airports. The best-placed airports with international flights are London (Heathrow & Gatwick), Exeter, Bristol, Bournemouth and Southampton. Please ask us about access by train from and back to these airports. Gatwick, Heathrow and Southampton airports each has its own rail station. The others have shuttle bus links with the nearest main line rail station. The best placed airport for J5 is Exeter, for J8 Bristol.
Overnight stops. J5: Night 1 Exmouth ; 2 Sidmouth; 3 Beer; 4 & 5 Lyme Regis; J8: nights 1 to 3 as J5, then nights 4 Lyme Regis; 5 West Bay (Bridport harbour); 6 Abbotsbury; 7 Portland (or if preferred Weymouth); 8 Lulworth Cove.
Accommodation. Specially selected guest houses or 'B&Bs'. En suite or private facilities can be guaranteed throughout the tour on payment of a supplement. Please enquire for details.
Meals included. Breakfast each morning; other meals can be obtained locally without pre-booking.
Extra nights. These can be included at any point on the tour at the time of booking the holiday. An extra night at Exmouth provides a chance to recuperate after a long journey. A second night at Lyme Regis is already included on J5 and is also recommended for J8. We can also recommend a second night at Portland, which gives an opportunity to walk the cliff path to Portland Bill, visit the busy fishing harbour at Weymouth, or to visit the magnificent iron age hill fort at Maiden Castle. Extra night prices are shown below.
Extension along Dorset Coast Path from Lulworth Cove to Poole. Eastwards from Lulworth Cove the World Heritage Coast and Dorst Coast Path extend for another 2.5 days (3 nights) walking to Poole. Because the first day of this extension crosses a military firing zone it is only open on certain days. Please ask us if you are interested in this extension. We also offer a separate 6 or 8 night tour called 'Dorset Coast Path Path and Purbeck Ridgeway' which includes both coastal and inland routes eastwards from Lulworth.
Factsheet. These are more detailed information sheets, one for each route, which should be obtained from The Discerning Traveller before booking. The Factsheet code for this tour is FSJ. See Enquiry form
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Jurassic Heritage Coast of Devon
and Dorset - tour prices 2014
- J5E (5 night tour, en-suite or private facilities every night):
£530. SRS*: £100. STS**: £125.
- J8E (8 night tour, en-suite or private facilities every night): £665. SRS*: £145. STS**: £175.
- Extra nights: £45 per person per night. Extra night at Exmouth or Lulworth Cove
- SRS* = single room supplement (applicable when 3 or 5 persons book
- STS** = single traveller supplement (applicable when booking is
for one person only)
- Note 1. Maximum of 1 single room per booking.
- Note 2: Extra night prices may be higher for single rooms.
- Note 3: This tour is available for single travellers paying the
single traveller supplement rate.
- Prices quoted are per person on basis of two people in double or twin-bedded rooms. Included in the price are bed and breakfast each night, with baggage transfers, maps and route directions. ‘ES’ (en suite) facilities means that there is a private bathroom with shower or tub and toilet within the main door of your room. ‘Private facilities’ means that the private bathroom may be outside the main door of your room. When the booking is made for a party of 3 or 5 customers, a single room supplement is payable. When the booking is made for a single traveller, a single traveller supplement is payable.
We also offer coastal walking tours in eastern Dorset
(Purbeck), 3 tours in Cornwall
(Land's End), south coast (Polperro and Fowey) and north coast (Padstow and Tintagel) and in Pembrokeshire.
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