Dorset Hotels

Jurassic Coast

Coast scenery near Durdle Door in Dorset
Isle of Portland from near Durdle Door Durdle Door
West Bay Lulworth Cove
Wild deer
Bouncing Bomb Chesil Beach and the Fleet seen from Isle of Portland
Coastline near Lulworth Cove
Portland Bill

On a more recent historical note, on March 9th, 1943, Barnes Wallis tested his Bouncing Bomb invention on the Fleet, in preparation for use on the famous Dam Busters Raid.

This was depicted in the 1955 feature film (based on Guy Gibson's book Enemy Coast Ahead) which uses archive footage from the time, the inventor being played by Michael Redgrave.

One of the recovered bombs can now be seen on display at Abbotsbury Swannery which is, of course, located right on the edge of the Lagoon.


Jurassic Coast

The popular Dorset Coast Path has 59 bridges, 77 gates, 125 stiles and 2,123 steps - love it for walking, its fine excuses to stop for cream teas and to savour the beauty of its impressive cliffs and spectacular landslips.

It is a part of the longer South West Coast Path that runs from Poole Harbour to Minehead. and the adjoining gateway towns which provide direct access to the coast.

From many vantage points you might spot out at sea a bottlenose dolphin, so it may be a good idea to always have your camera at the ready!

There is plenty of more captive yet equally exciting marine life to be seen at much closer quarters in the Sealife Centre at Weymouth which also has otters and seals, the Aquarium at Poole Quay and the Oceanarium at Bournemouth.

The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO has awarded the fabulous "Jurassic Coastline" of Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Site status because its geology and physical geography assessed as of international conservation importance.

The Dorset and East Devon Coast has been officially designated as one of the natural wonders of the world alongside the Great Barrier Reef and the Grand Canyon. The coast is England's first Natural World Heritage Site.

The Dorset and East Devon Coast offers a Walk Through Time of 185 million years of Earth's history and stretches the 95 miles from Orcombe Point in Devon to Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck, taking in the entire West Dorset coastline.

The West Dorset coast is definitely the best place to find fossils. The oldest of Jurassic rocks, the Lias, are fossil rich and subjected to rapid erosion particularly from winter storms.

Rocks between Exmouth and Studland, along 95 miles of coast (155 km) gently decline towards the east and result in different ages and types being exposed with a "walk through time" over 190 million years.

You may find the fossil remains of animal and plant life such as ammonites and the huge dinosaurs that are known to have roamed here. The fossil rich beaches at Charmouth and Lyme Regis offer the budding explorer plenty of excitement. The fossil forests around Lulworth Cove and the Isle of Portland attract geologists from many countries. There is an important Dinosaur Museum at Dorchester, the county's capital.

The unspoilt natural wonders include the 17 miles long shingle bank of Chesil Beach and its 8 miles long peaceful lagoon known as the Fleet, marvellous arches as at Durdle Door, the chalk sea stacks of Old Harry's Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck and the great circular Lulworth Cove. Consider a boat trip from Weymouth or Swanage to view from another angle.

The Isle of Portland has a rich quarrying heritage and who hasn't heard of Portland Stone? You may have come across it, and Portland marble too, at Westminster Abbey or another famous building. Such is its worldwide reputation that a wellknown cement probably took its name from the colour and strength of this limestone. Seen from much of Dorset's coast, and recognisable from its steep rocky cliffs, rising to 500 feet at the northern end, and forming a four mile long wedge shape with its famous lighthouse, which is open to the public, right on its southernmost extremity at Portland Bill. The island is connected to the mainland by the shingle strip of Chesil Beach and its coast footpath will bring you among resident seabirds such as fulmars, guillemots, kittiwakes and, if you are lucky, perigrine falcons.

A wide variety of rich maritime plantlife, including Dorset botanists favourite, the rare Portland Sea Lavendar, and butterflies abound. A European ornithological landmark, Portland is an important bird spotting location at migration time, along with Hengistbury Head at the eastern end of Dorset. Across Weymouth Bay from Portland are the marshes of the Radipole Lake RSPB reserve, and adjacent to Hengistbury Head is Stanpit Marsh on the edge Christchurch Harbour - Dorset has a superb "twitching" enviroment. Bird watchers in several locations be looking out for the numbered Dartford Warbler.

The heathlands of Purbeck will give you ponies, highland cattle and, if you are just a little patient, wild deer. Between Sherborne and Sturminster is a large herd of deer which can be viewed from the roadside. The rare heathland habitat and fabulous beaches around the Studland National Nature Reserve and the shores of Poole Harbour preserve Smooth Snakes and Sand Lizards, crickets and dragonflies.

Just along the coast path: Lulworth Cove.

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