Jurassic Coast Road Trip

Fossil Hunting on a Road Trip in Dorset

Embarking on a Jurassic Coast road trip in a motorhome is like setting off on a journey through time. The Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage site, stretches over 95 miles of the English coastline from East Devon to Dorset. It’s a place where you can literally walk through millions of years of history, with each cliff and cove telling its own ancient story.

Enjoy our wonderful homegrown road trip on the Jurassic Coast and find a bit of your own pre-historic history.

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Why Visit The Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast is a fossil hunter’s paradise, a geologist’s dream, and a nature lover’s haven. Its dramatic landscapes, from towering cliffs to secluded beaches, are not just beautiful but tell tales of the Earth’s ancient past. It’s a unique opportunity to connect with nature, history, and adventure in one of the most stunning coastal settings in the UK.

Best Time For Your Jurassic Coast Road Trip

The best time to visit is late spring through early autumn, when the weather is more conducive to exploring the outdoors and the full range of attractions and activities are available.

  • Spring: The coast awakens with wildflowers and milder weather, making it ideal for hiking and fossil hunting.
  • Summer: Warm weather and longer days are perfect for beach visits, coastal walks, and water sports.
  • Autumn: Enjoy the changing colours and quieter towns after the summer rush. Cooler but still pleasant for outdoor activities.
  • Winter: Bracing walks and storm watching can be dramatic, though some attractions may be closed.

Jurassic Coast Road Trip

Total Distance

80 miles / 128 km approx.

Duration

7 - 10 days

Driving Time

4 hours approx.

Jurassic Coast Road Trip

Using the map. This map takes in 9 stops.  If you have a touch screen, use two fingers to increase the size or decrease. If you click on each of the stops, it will give you the name of the stop.  

The Jurassic Coast Road Trip Itinerary

Road Trip at a Glance

~ Lyme Regis ~ Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens ~ Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon ~ The Isle of Portland ~ Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove ~ Kimmeridge Bay ~ Corfe Castle ~ Swanage ~  

Lyme Regis

Known as the ‘Pearl of Dorset’, Lyme Regis is a must-visit for any Jurassic coast road trip. Famed for its historical connection to Mary Anning, an early palaeontologist who discovered many important fossils in the area, visitors can enjoy guided fossil hunting tours along the beaches. The Lyme Regis Museum, built on Anning’s former home, offers fascinating insights into the town’s geological significance. Don’t miss a stroll along The Cobb, the historic harbour wall offering beautiful sea views and a chance to step into the world of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.”

If you want to actually get out on the sea, you can take a family friendly fishing trip in Lyme Regis, in the morning to catch your own fish, for 3 hours with Nicks Fishing Trips

Enjoy a luxury dining experience in the Michelin starred restaurant in Lyme Regis, The Lilac Garden Table. It is expensive, but it could be the perfect treat to kick off your holiday. Alternatively, Lyme Regis has so many fantastic food places - we bought fresh skate from the market and cooked our own dinner!

Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens

These magnificent gardens offer a peaceful retreat with rare plants and stunning floral displays, not typically associated with the UK’s climate. Even our home grown Alan Titchmarsh said it was one of the finest gardens he had ever visited! 

The nearby Abbotsbury Swannery provides a unique experience to get close to hundreds of nesting swans but is only open seasonally. It is one of the only places in the world that you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting swans.  You can buy a ‘passport ticket’ to both the swannery and the gardens for a discounted price and they don’t need to be used on the same day. 

Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon

This unique 18-mile pebble beach, part of the Dorset itinerary, separates the Fleet Lagoon from the English Channel. It’s an ideal spot for bird watching, fishing, and enjoying panoramic views of the Jurassic Coast. The Chesil Beach Centre provides interesting exhibits on the beach’s formation and its wildlife. A walk along the beach at sunset is particularly magical, offering a serene experience amidst the sound of the shifting pebbles.

Jurassic Road Trip Picnic on the Beach in Dorset.
Jurassic Road Trip Picnic on the Beach in Dorset.

The Isle of Portland

Venturing to the Isle of Portland, connected to the mainland by Chesil Beach, reveals a rugged landscape with a rich maritime history. Portland Bill Lighthouse is a must-visit for spectacular views and dramatic cliffside walks. The lighthouse has been in use for over 500 years! Climbers and birdwatchers alike are drawn to Portland for its unique flora and fauna. 

You should also check out Portland Castle, built in the 1540’s during Henry VIII’s reign, which was to protect against Spanish and French invasions. 

Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove

No Dorset road trip is complete without visiting Durdle Door, an iconic natural limestone arch framing the blue waters of the English Channel. A short walk away lies Lulworth Cove, a perfect circular bay known for its crystal-clear waters and geological interest.  You can walk from Durdle Door to Lulworth Cove, which we did for the sunrise one morning. It was a long walk up hill at first, but the views are amazing. 

Kayaking and swimming are popular activities here, allowing visitors to appreciate the cove’s beauty from a different perspective. Lulworth Cove has an equipment hire centre that you can use if you don’t carry your own in your motorhome. It costs £25 per hour, with a round trip to Durdle Door taking approx. 2 hours. The nearby Lulworth Estate offers educational walks and talks about the area’s geology and history, so you can easily spend the day here.

Be sure to stop off at Tyneham Village on your way to Kimmeridge Bay. It is an abandoned village taken over by the military in 1943, now open to the public on specific days. In November of 1943 all residents were told to leave within 28 days and they never returned.

Kimmeridge Bay

Famous for its rock pools and clear waters, Kimmeridge Bay is a haven for snorkelling and diving, offering a glimpse into marine life rarely seen elsewhere. The Etches Collection museum in the village showcases a remarkable range of fossils found in the bay, making it a fascinating stop for history enthusiasts. 

Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset

The Etches Collection, Kimmeridge is a museum showcasing a remarkable collection of Jurassic marine fossils from 157 million years ago!

Corfe Castle

The ruins of Corfe Castle stand as a testament to Britain’s turbulent past. Exploring this ancient fortress offers breath-taking views over the Purbeck Hills and insights into a thousand years of history. The village of Corfe itself is absolutely charming, with traditional English pubs, tea rooms, and quaint shops. 

Corfe High Street in Corfe, Dorset
Corfe High Street in Corfe, Dorset
God Acres Cemetery in Corfe Castle
God Acres Cemetery in Corfe Castle

Swanage

An award winning Blue Flag sandy beach awaits you at your last stop in Swanage. Durlston Country Park is lovely, with fantastic cliff top walks where you can walk all the way through to the lighthouse at Anvil Point. Its beautiful scenery and has an incredibly diverse wildlife, from flowers, to birds to butterflies. 

Taking a ride on the Swanage Railway from here offers a nostalgic journey through the beautiful Dorset countryside.  The railway has loads of events on during the year, from dining to driving! Yes, you actually can participate and drive a steam train on one of the driving experiences they run. You need to book events, though as they sell ou.

Festivals in Dorset

Lyme Regis Fossil Festival: This festival celebrates the Jurassic Coast’s rich geological heritage, inviting enthusiasts of all ages to engage in fossil walks, talks, and hands-on science activities. It’s a fantastic way for visitors to connect with the Earth’s ancient past in Lyme Regis, the heart of the Jurassic Coast.

Dorset Seafood Festival: Held in the picturesque harborside of Weymouth, this festival boasts the UK’s largest free seafood event. Attendees can enjoy fresh, local seafood, cooking demonstrations by top chefs, and a lively atmosphere that celebrates Dorset’s maritime heritage.

Swanage Railway Steam Gala: A dream come true for railway enthusiasts, this event features an array of steam locomotives running through the beautiful Purbeck countryside. The gala offers a step back in time with vintage trains, exhibitions, and rides that highlight the golden age of steam.

Bridport Hat Festival: A quirky and colourful event, the Bridport Hat Festival sees the town of Bridport come alive with people donning a variety of imaginative and whimsical hats. Competitions, live music, and hat-themed events make for a fun-filled day for all ages.

Dorchester Literary Festival: Celebrating the literary heritage of Dorset, this festival in Dorchester features talks, readings, and discussions with authors from around the UK. It’s an enriching experience for book lovers, offering insights into both classic literature and contemporary works.

Purbeck Film Festival: The largest rural film festival in the UK, this event screens a wide range of films in various unique and picturesque locations across the Isle of Purbeck. It’s a must-attend for cinephiles, offering everything from international blockbusters to independent films.

Great Dorset Steam Fair: An iconic event in the British calendar, the Great Dorset Steam Fair showcases the history of steam power and machinery over five action-packed days. With vintage vehicles, steam engines, crafts, and music, it’s a nostalgic journey into England’s industrial past.

Does a Jurassic Coast Road Trip Deliver?

Reflecting on this journey, it’s clear that a Jurassic Coast road trip delivers on all fronts. The blend of natural beauty, deep history, and unique attractions makes every mile an adventure. Whether it’s uncovering fossils at Lyme Regis, marvelling at the natural arch of Durdle Door, or exploring the haunting beauty of Tyneham Village, there’s a sense of discovery that’s unmatched. 

Dining at a Michelin-starred restaurant adds a touch of luxury to the rugged coastal experience, while local farm shops offer a taste of Dorset’s rich culinary traditions. The festivals bring the local culture to life, making each visit unique. In a motorhome, you have the freedom to explore this magnificent coast at your own pace, making it an ideal 7 to 10-day getaway. So, does a Jurassic Coast road trip deliver? Absolutely. It’s a journey through time, taste, and the breath-taking landscapes of Dorset, offering a rich, immersive experience that stays with you long after the trip is over.

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