In 2001 UNESCO awarded the 95-mile stretch of coastline stretching from Old Harry Rocks in Dorset to Exmouth in Devon, World Heritage status because of the importance of its geology. The Dorset and East Devon coastline is unique because 185 million years of the Earth’s history are recorded through the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of geological time.
The oldest rocks are to be found in East Devon, where sands and clays formed a desert between 250 and 200 million years ago. Travel along the coast into Dorset you’ll come across Lyme Regis and Charmouth, the start of the Jurassic period and the best places to go fossil hunting. The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre organises guided fossil hunts and roadshows throughout the year.
The island of Portland is made up of later Jurassic rocks, Portland Limestone. Quarrying of the famous stone has played an important role in the shaping of the island, and the disused Tout Quarry is now a unique sculpture park where artists have carved an eclectic mix of fascinating work into the stones. The magnificent stretch of Chesil Beach is a haven for wildlife and although there are several schools of thought on how it was formed it remains a mystery to geologists.
East of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door is a Fossil Forest, which was formed when a forest of trees was flooded and over time sediments that built up on algae hardened into limestone.
The Purbeck area was once home to dinosaurs, and footprints and trackways are regularly uncovered in the course of quarrying Purbeck Stone.
Weymouth sits at the heart of this magnificent coastline and is the perfect base to stay while exploring this unique area. To book accommodation please call the head office on 01305 760100 or contact one of our hotels direct.