Fossil hunting in Dorset is an essential experience when enjoying a holiday on the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast. Our 5 holiday parks are located along the Jurassic Coast, with 95 miles of breathtaking coastline. The coastline here is of international geological importance and if you ‘dig a little deeper’, you can reveal 185 million years of the earth’s history!
Some of our favourite locations for fossil hunting are Charmouth and Lyme Regis (near Golden Cap, Highlands End and Graston Copse Holiday Parks) and Kimmeridge Bay (near Sandyholme Holiday Park). These are the areas where the cliffs are the most fossil-rich and erode the most quickly, providing a regular supply of new fossils ready to be found. The fossils here were made famous through the work of Mary Anning in the early 19th century, who discovered the first Ichthyosaur skeleton and was the subject of the tongue twister “she sells sea shells on the sea shore.”
The most common fossils found are Ammonites and Belemnites, which are both extinct types of molluscs, similar to current day mussels, snails, clams and octopus. The best time for discoveries is in winter after storms – the worse the weather, the better the fossil hunting! Find out more about our winter breaks near Charmouth and Lyme Regis.
In order to help you experience the best the Jurassic Coast has to offer and do some fossil hunting of your own, we have teamed up with Jurassic Coast Guides. Owner, Martin Curtis, runs guided fossil hunts and guided walks along the Dorset coast. As a gold winner at the Dorset Tourism Awards in 2019, we wanted to team up with another gold winner and the best in their field. Martin has extensive passion, knowledge and experience. Book now and learn about the history and fossils of this world-famous coastline.
Add a Guided Fossil Hunt to your holiday
During the remainder of 2020, Jurassic Coast Guides are offering private group fossil hunts for up to 6 people for £125, with social distancing in place. These are available on select dates and times and start from Charmouth Beach – 5 miles from Golden Cap Holiday Park, 7 miles from Highlands End Holiday Park, 10 miles from Graston Copse Holiday Park and 30 miles from Sandyholme Holiday Park.
Visit the Jurassic Coast Guides website to book
“Martin was so professional, experienced and made us feel safe. We couldn’t recommend him highly enough, we loved it and found loads. We have been on fossil walks before with other organisations but none as informative and well put together as this!”
Walks are small and personal and never exceed 15 people, making sure you’ll get the best out of your experience and time with the guide. Group walks last a total of 2.5 hours and start with a safety talk and a discussion on how to find fossils on the foreshore. Walks take place all year round on select dates when tide conditions are right. Children under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a paying adult and all walks are dependent on tide times and weather conditions. Dogs are welcome on the fossil hunts. It is the same price of £12.50 for everyone, whether that is an adult, child or baby.
We recommend fossil hunting at Charmouth. It is easy to be cut off by the incoming tide here so care must be taken. Fossils can be plentiful in these areas, but it still takes practice and patience to find them. Organised fossil walks are the best and safest way to find fossils and they are very informative and educational. The best tools to find fossils are a sharp pair of eyes. Hammers are not essential and please only collect loose material from the beach rather than breaking off parts of the cliff.
Be sure to follow the Fossil Collector’s Code of Conduct:
- Collecting from beach material is acceptable practice
- Digging in the cliffs is not an acceptable practice
- Do not over collect – leave some for others to find
If you find a rare or special fossil, please register it at the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre. All that is involved is taking a photographic record, brief information and the finder’s details. The fossil is still yours to take home but it helps to record valuable information about the fossil finds from the coast.
Some of the best fossils on display locally, can be found at Lyme Regis Museum, the Etches Collection at Kimmeridge, Dinosaurland and Dorchester County Museum. Walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs, literally, at Keates Quarry near Swanage, where there are more than 100 fossilised tracks.