Fossil Hunting on the Jurassic Coast

9 December 2019Holiday Park News

We’ve teamed up with Martin Curtis from the award-winning Jurassic Coast Guides to offer guided fossil hunts and guided walks along the Jurassic Coast. We caught up with Martin to find out all about fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast…

What do you love about fossil hunting?

I love that exciting feeling you get when you discover a fossil for the first time on the beach. You’re the first person to see that creature since the day it died all those millions of years ago, you instantly connect with it. Just think of the journey it’s been on to be found by you! While on the beach hunting for fossils, you are so focused looking that any troubles in life become insignificant. It’s very relaxing and soothing for your mind and think of all that fresh air and exercise you get while you’re there…I can’t think of any better outdoor activity to experience!

Is fossil hunting a good activity for beginners?

Fossil hunting is the perfect activity for beginners…with a little bit of training you’ll be spotting fossils on the beach in no time at all. From then on it’s all about building on what you’ve learnt and spending time on the beach. The great thing about fossil hunting is that you don’t need to be a specialist. It’s all about training your eyes. 

What is the best time of year to go fossil hunting?

The best time of year to go fossil hunting is during the winter months when we get more storms and heavy rain. This softens up the cliff fall material on the beach. The sea then washes the clays away, depositing the fossils onto the foreshore. Throughout the year the sea also comes up onto the beach and turns the material over like a washing machine. This then releases more fossils that were buried under the beach during the winter months giving a constant supply of fossils all year round.

West Bay Storm

What makes the Jurassic Coast such a great location for finding fossils?

The cliffs at Charmouth and Lyme Regis used to be a sea bed during the Jurassic Period. During the mid Cretaceous period movements under the earths crust uplifted the seabed and it then became exposed and formed the cliffs along this stretch of coastline. Approximately 195 million years ago the seas at this location were teaming with marine life and as the marine life died it sank to the sea bed floor and was quickly covered with sediment.

This process happened so quickly that the dead creatures remains were preserved really well. The material in the cliffs is a soft mudstone and readily falls to the beach. The sea then washes the mud away leaving the fossils on the beach for us to find. This natural erosion and action from the sea deposits fossils on the beach every day of the year.

What are your top 3 reasons to go fossil hunting?

  1. It’s a great experience for the whole family and suitable for all ages and abilities
  2. It’s the perfect way to enjoy and see this amazing coastline
  3. It’s an amazing feeling to discover and set your eyes on your very own fossilised treasure from the Jurassic period

What is the favourite thing you’ve found while fossil hunting?

The best fossil I’ve ever found is a complete fossilised shark poo. Every fossil hunter wants to find a fossil poo and this was an amazing find as it was so big! I’ve also recently found some rare shark teeth. Shark material is hard to find as shark skeletons were made of cartilage which is softer than bone and as a consequence it did not fossilise very well. Recently I also found my first fossilised Beetle. These are extremely rare and hard to find as fossils as these would of lived on land and somehow have been washed out to sea.

Martin’s favourite discovery – a fossilised shark poo

What are your favourite places on the Jurassic Coast?

My favourite place on the Jurassic Coast is the summit of Golden Cap. At 191 meters high it’s the highest viewpoint on the south coast of England and from here you can see nearly two thirds of the Jurassic Cast World Heritage site. If you’re visiting the Jurassic Coast for one day, a walk to this point will give you the best opportunity to see as much of the Jurassic Coast in one visit. As far as I’m concerned it is the best place to see this world famous coastline.

Ringstead and Kimmeridge are also big favourites as I spent a lot of time there as a child, fossil hunting and rockpooling with my parents.

Golden Cap Holiday Park on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset

The view east from the summit of Golden Cap

Book Fossil Hunting on the Jurassic Coast

To find out more about fossil hunting trips and guided walks with Martin from Jurassic Coast Guides, visit our Fossil Hunting in Dorset page!

What our guests say

  • Very peaceful Park

    The wildlife is stunning, we were visited by the ducks on a regular basis which was lovely. Our visit was very enjoyable and we will definitely be back in the future!

    Sarah W - Pitch Up
    Sandyholme

  • 5 out of 5 isn't enough!

    This is simply our favorite touring park along the south coast. The location couldn't be better with views to die for and an abundance of fresh sea air. The park is spic and span and extremely well kept with very friendly staff.

    Big Caravan Adventures - Tripadvisor
    Highlands End

  • Best holiday ever!

    This is by far the best Holiday Park I have been to. The views are breath taking with easy access to the beach and nice coastal walks to West Bay. If you're looking for a relaxing holiday in a stunning location, then this is the place to come.

    Alison D - TripAdvisor
    Highlands End

  • Fantastic holiday once again

    We have been coming here now every year for about 10 years. Its our favourite place and the Park has everything we need.

    Andy M - TripAdvisor
    Highlands End

  • A little bit of heaven!

    Golden Cap is a little bit of heaven. The views are awesome, right next to the sea. It's all relaxed and low key just how we like it.

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    Golden Cap

  • Idyllic setting

    Quiet site in a beautiful setting with exceptionally clean toilets and showers

    Anthony M - Pitch Up
    Graston Copse

  • Would definitely recommend

    Close to beach, a nice local pub, dog friendly and a very relaxed atmosphere.

    Dan M - Pitch Up
    Golden Cap

  • A tour of Dorset!

    An excellent Park as a base to visit the Dorset coast, Jurassic Coast, Chesil Beach, Lyme Regis, Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door, to name a few.

    Arthur D - Tripadvisor
    Graston Copse

  • Fantastic Park

    10 out of 10 is not enough for this Holiday Park. We have been here 3 times and we love it more and more every time. The park has all you need, with some pitches overlooking the sea and a great restaurant.

    Shirley Thompson - Tripadvisor
    Highlands End

  • A hidden gem

    The location is amazing, right on the beach and all the facilities are good. It's a hidden gem this one, one of the best parks in the country

    Mark Tee - Tripadvisor
    Golden Cap

  • Lovely tranquil campsite

    The location was great as we could easily walk to the village or local beaches through the beautiful countryside. I would recommend this campsite to families for a peaceful and safe stay.

    Sarah - Tripadvisor
    Graston Copse