The Jurassic Coast
England's Southern Coast is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Jurassic Coast
Discover Southern England's UNESCO World Heritage Coastal Site. Geologically interesting, and stunningly beautiful at the same time. A place you can sail, paddleboard, and stroll the sublime coastal landscape.
This world heritage site is the only place in the world where you can see 185 million years of geological history in sequential layers of stone. Please see our customisable itinerary England's South Coast tour.
It is home to Britain's first fossil shop, opened by Mary Anning in 1826, who used to find and collect fossils on the beach with her family. The well-known tongue-twister, 'she sells sea-shells on the sea-shore' was inspired by Mary and her legacy. Geology should be trendy, and hopefully, after you have seen the movie 'Ammonite' about Mary's life, you may feel differently.
185 Million Years of Geological History
What is the Jurassic Coast?
The Jurassic Coast is a natural wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cliffs and beaches are a snapshot of our geological history going back 185 million years - you can read the fossils, rocks and landforms as you would a book.
For a geologist, the Jurassic Coast is a remarkable place, and it will be fantastic for you too. It would help if you had the right tour guide to bring it to life; the region's beauty is the easy bit. Imagine your favourite box set drama has three episodes, but you can only see the first. When you travel around the world to Africa, you can see the second episode and so on. But, on the south coast of England, you can see all three episodes in one go. The Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods are laid out entirely in a 95 mile stretch of stunning coastline.
Mary Anning, our heroine, was born in 1799, right on the south coast at Lyme Regis. The last King of the American colonies was on the throne (King George III). Britain was at war with Napoleon's army, and publishers had not published Jane Austen books as yet.
Mary's family was poor, shockingly, only Mary and her brother survived childhood. We can only imagine the hardship they endured. I like to think that Mary's father was a kind man. He enjoyed taking Mary on to the beach to look for fossils, an odd thing to do with your daughter in the 1800s. Mary had basic education but could read and taught herself anatomy and geology. Mary's mother thought that her fossil finds could be of value; selling such objects could solve the family financial problems. This idea coincided with the trend for people to have glass cabinets of 'curiosities.'
In 1811, Mary dug up the fossilised skeleton of what people believed was a monster. It was a 5.2 metres long Ichthyosaurus fossil. The idea of extinction was inconceivable at the time, and Charles Darwin's 'On the Origins of Species.' Would not be published until 1859.
Mary was able to find, clean, prepare and identify a long list of incredible finds, such as; a Plesiosaurus and Pterodactyl. Members of the Geological Society of London bought Mary's specimens. Geological Society Members did not credit her with the discoveries and refused to admit her.
Tragically Mary remained financially impoverished and died of cancer when only 47. Her legacy is what we understand about our world, and the worldwide universal interest in this rugged stretch of England's south coast. Which we hope you include on your next visit to England.
What to see nearby
The spectacular ruins of Corfe Castle dominate the surrounding countryside with the charming village of Corfe. Although the castle dates from the 11th century, it withstood a six-week siege during the English Civil war (1642-1651) when 600 Parliamentary troops were only able to gain access through treachery from with the walls. This legendary stronghold is well worth a visit. For photography buffs, climb an adjacent hill early in the morning to catch the castle's image surrounded by mist. We include the Jurassic coast on our suggested England's South Coast Tour. We can certainly tailor a tour to match your interests and pace of travel.
There are various coastal town and villages to visit. See Lyme Regis for fossil shops and Lulworth Cove, with its perfect horseshoe bay and 400 ft cliffs nearby. Chesil Beach is 18 miles long and formed of a gentle curve of pebbles. Strangely, the stones decrease in size from east to west.
There is a large variety of sailing options, from two-hour cruises to the exhilarating feeling of sailing a tall ship with vast sails. You can go paddle-boarding around Old Harry Rocks and Jet Skiing to name but a few. You wish to have a lovely lunch on-board a motor cruiser.
Touring and accommodation
Corfe Castle is a spectacular ruined fortress situated on a hill above a pretty village. Hiking the coast is a thrilling experience, but to fully appreciate the Jurassic coast, it makes sense to take a dip, sail, go Sea Fishing or Paddleboard. There are many options, contact us for further information. Please think about including the Jurassic Coast on your next tour of England. We feature the coast in our suggested England’s South Coast guided tour.
If this is your first time to England, we would recommend a custom version of our Town and Country Tour; it covers the famous places and allows you to utilise your private driver-guide by getting-off-the-beaten-path. Our Classic tour of Ireland is a good place to start for the first trip to Ireland, and we suggest the Classic tour of Scotland for your first trip to the bonny Highlands. Merging Wales with England makes for a dynamic experience of mountains, stately homes and cosy country pubs.
There is a wide choice of accommodation in Southern England London. Manor House Hotels, Guest Houses and Britain's Finest Hotels. We suggest Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa a luxury hotel in Hampshire, in the New Forest National Park, and a short hop from the Jurassic Coast. Further inland in the lovely village of Evershot is Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant with classic dining, spa and option to stay at the Acorn pub.
England's UNESCO Status Coastline
Sail, hike, bike and paddleboard your way around the Jurassic Coast
- UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Private Sailing Available
- Hike the Coastal Paths
- Go Fossil Hunting with an Expert
- Visit Vineyards
Cliffs near Durdle Door
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK, EU and US office-based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.