Best pub name spotted en route: The Salty Monk. ☺
Lyme Regis itself is a charming little town, clinging closely to the shore. And I don’t use the term “clinging” lightly—there’s a heck of a drop from the main road through town to the beach itself. Blessedly, there’s plenty of visitor parking, though it did involve a very steep walk down to the shore—not bad on the way down, but uphill was definitely a challenge. Thank goodness for all those hours I’ve spent on the elliptical!
Next, it was time to go fossil hunting. This whole 95-mile section of the south coast is called England’s “Jurassic Coast”. Going east from Orcombe Point to Old Harry Rocks is like traveling in time, from the early Triassic period onward. Lyme Regis is located in the oldest part of the coast, its formations dating to 200 to 195 million years ago. Down the beach from the Cobb a great cliff face looms up, made of very crumbly black shale, the remains of an ancient ocean bed (you can see it in the pictures above of the Cobb.) And as gravity and the weather erode it, the fossils of creatures that died and left their remains in the oozy black mud of that old ocean end up on the beach, where they can be picked up from amongst the clitter of rocks and flints by geeky American tourists like us.
What you see here are ammonite fossils, distant and extinct relatives of today’s squid and nautiluses; the little star-shaped one is possibly an echinoid, a relative of today’s starfish and sea urchins. It was a lot of fun, actually, and reminded me of my long-ago days as an archaeology student doing field surface surveys. We had a lovely if late lunch at a pub close to the Cobb, then dragged ourselves back up the hill to our car, to go to our next destination. But I’ll be back to the Jurassic Coast some day.
Next installment: Not the Isle of Wight, sadly, but a few other sites of interest.