At one point or another, one of your children will undoubtedly go through the ‘dinosaur phase’. However, as phases go, this is pretty good phase and certainly one to embrace. After the essential visit to The Natural History Museum, the next essential trip is to get them outdoors and discover fossils.
The obvious choice for a fossil-hunting trip is, naturally, the fabulous Jurassic Coast, Dorset. Here are are the best five beaches to go fossil hunting in Dorset with your children.
This is possibly the most famous beach for fossil hunting in Dorset. The cliffs surrounding the beach are highly fossiliferous, the cliffs being a Jurassic seafloor. As the waves crash into the rocks, the fossils are washed onto the beach. This, of course, makes it incredibly popular during the summer months. Therefore, an out of season visit may yield a higher find!
That said, it is a great spot for children; it is an easy-accessible beach with the carpark close to the beach. There are also toilets and a cafe. The children can easily walk along the foreshore and the beach and discover many fossils. The most popular find here is the ammonite.
Seatown is often known as the ‘ammonite kingdom’. The fossils are easily collectable from the foreshore, so this makes it a great spot for kids to collect. However, if you are nearer the cliff bases, it is recommended that you wear hard hats as the cliffs frequently crumble.
There is a carpark very close to the beach, with toilets and there is a pub nearby for those vital post-fossil hunting refreshments.
Watton Cliff is part of West Cliff and a excellent spot for fossil hunting in Dorset, particularly if you want to find micro fossils. However, you can also find brachiopods, crinoids, fish, sharks’ teeth, crocodiles, amphibians and plants.
To get to the beach, drive to Eype, (it is too dangerous to access the beach from West Beach) and walk East along the beach.
Ringstead Bay is the perfect location for families as it is easily accessible with a carpark and toilets. It is also safe and full of fossils making it a great choice for kids. It is also easy to walk to other great Dorset locations such as Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door.
There is a carpark (with a charge) toilets and a cafe (open in the summer). The fossils are easily found along the coastline, and it makes for a great family walk.
If gastropods and bivalves, and echinoids are your thing, then Pirates Cove is the place for you!
You need to check the time of the tides, and also the beach can get very muddy, so supervision is necessary, but the find-rate is high and it also close to other sites such as Chesil Beach. Access is easy from Pirates Lane.
Where to stay:
Dorset is awash with accommodation, but as a family, I think often holiday cottages work well. It is worth checking out various holiday cottage sites, such Lyme Bay Holidays for suitable cottages, which have a range of cottages throughout The Jurassic Coast.
What to bring
- Tide times – you don’t want to arrive and the tide is up, or worst off all, get trapped by the tide!
- A notebook to record your findings!
- Newspaper or bags to take your findings away
- A camera
- A small hammer, should you need to open any fossils
- A mobile phone just in case …!
Top fossil-hunting tips:
- Be aware of the cliffs, don’t get too close!
- Again, watch out for the tides!
- Do not hammer the cliffs – this can cause a landslide
- When hammering, watch out for your eyes, remember to wear safety glasses!
- The best tine to go is between November and April. The winter storms tend to churn up more fossils!
- Check the weather before you go!
This post has been written in collaboration. Images are sourced from Pexels and Pixabay, but all words are my own