The Jurassic Coast on the English Channel southern coast is a Unesco World Heritage Site. It starts at Orcombe Point and stretches 96 miles down the coast of Devon. It is the second world heritage site designated in England.
On this strange and mysterious coast, you can find prehistoric fossils. The fossils come from the cliffs along the coastline of Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous periods representing all of the Mesozoic era with 180 million years of geological history. Wow!
I first heard of this coastline while reading a historical fiction novel called Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. If you haven’t read it, you should! It really sparked an interest in this coastline and recently when I was in the area, I got a chance to visit. We stopped at one of the beaches where folks were busy with hammers scouring the beaches for fossils. It is clear that they can be found there, or you can buy them, as I did in the souvenir shops. This one is a Promicroceras from 195 million years ago on the Charmouth Beach.
The photos here are from Charmouth Beach, which had a lovely little museum shop with information about the cliffs and the area. There was also a bar, and you could rent a hammer and pick for an hour or two or for the day. It is a lovely coastline and so mysterious!
On a recent visit with a friend to visit her friends and family in Southwest England, we came upon this English Mansion, Athelhampton, which is located in West Dorset. It’s just a few miles East of Dorcester.
This 15th century manor house and gardens are just lovely and a perfect place to visit on a sunny spring day. We arrived around 11:30 in the morning, took a couple of hours to view the house and gardens, and then stayed for a Ploughman’s lunch in the lovely atrium covered restaurant on the property.
The gardens are typical English gardens with lovely flowers and not too much structure except for this one garden with pyramid like bushes. There are fountains, a few sculptures and a stream in the back of the house. Because it was early Spring, not everything was in bloom, but just enough to make it interesting and to give some insight into things to come.
The initial dwelling was built in 1485 and added onto as the years went by. The rooms are decorated with furniture of the period and there are tremendous fireplaces, library, a wine cellar, bedrooms, and more. The large entrance hall that greets you is a fine example of Tudor architecture.
Visit the Athelhampton site for more information around opening times and prices!
Cinque Terra is a UNESCO World Heritage site and definitely a unique place to visit when you are in Italy. We like to stay at Portovenere, and then take the ferryboat up to the Cinque Terre. The Cinque Terre can be very crowded, so Portovenere makes a nice quiet place to come home too. In early April is the best time to visit in my opinion!
The boat costs 30 euro per person for all day and as many trips as you like. It is relatively easy to see the four towns accessible by boat in a day. The sea views are amazing as you approach each village. The villages accessible by sea are Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso and Manarolo. Corniglia is the fifth town, but is not accessible by boat.
Each of the small towns are slightly different and all are worth a visit to discover which is your favorite. Be sure to try the pesto in this area as well as some of the seafood specialties fresh from the ocean!