Sunny February walking along the stunning coastline of Devon and Dorset
The cliffs and beaches of Devon and Dorset were our destination on this walking weekend based down in the fishing village of Beer. It lies in the area known as the Jurassic Coast, nearly 100 miles of cliffs, coves, beaches and woodland famous for its fossils. Beyond these wonders the English Channel gave us an uninterrupted horizon, complete with stories of smugglers, shipwreck and romance.
After everyone arrived safely during Friday’s storm, we tucked into a curry dinner and explored Beer YHA, an old hunting lodge but now our home for the weekend. Despite the foul overnight weather, Saturday dawned with blue skies and no wind, so we split into two groups and made for the coast, after a short walk through Beer itself.
The long walk headed east, over the cliffs to Seaton and then into the famous Undercliff. This series of landslips, many dating back only to the 19th century, have created an almost impenetrable thicket of woodland, where the South West Coast Path finds a way through but where there is no exit up or down. It’s a nature reserve, famous for its unique biodiversity, and is known as the ‘British rainforest’ for its special climate. Despite the mud, we made it all the way to Lyme Regis and had time to explore the town before the bus back to Beer.
The short walk headed west along the coast, over the cliffs and through a shorter section of landslip towards Branscombe Mouth. Finding a path to the beach through the trees, we sat on the warm stones and watched the waves crash while a Peregrine falcon swooped overhead, before wandering along to a tea-room for a much-deserved break. Rejoining the coastal path, we made it up to the Iron Age hillfort of Berry Camp, before strolling back to Beer past timeless villages of thatched houses and even a working blacksmith.
With everyone back at the hostel to enjoy watching England beat France in the rugby, we even beat the rain, which came in for a few hours after dark. And a small group even forsake the warmth of the lounge and the wine to go out and look at the stars, on the way to the pub of course … you have to have a beer in Beer!
Sunday was colder, with an overcast sky but no rain. We all set out for Lyme Regis and headed out onto Charmouth beach to go fossil hunting. The rules say you can take home anything you find lying around on the beach (not including sunbathers) and we were all surprised by how many fossils were there to find! Despite a few people heading back to get coffee after the cold wind became too much, everyone else got at least one fossil, so took home a remnant of ancient life millions of years old.
We finished the weekend at the Cobb Inn, an excellent pub overlooking the famous Cobb itself, the boats bobbing in the bay as the wind picked up. We’d had sunshine, seaside walks, old fishing villages, and ancient Jurassic fossils; quite a lot for a February weekend!
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