Independent guides for the modern tourist
Independent guides for the modern tourist
Lyme Regis is one of the gems of the Dorset coastline.
This delightful town boasts a pretty sandy beach, an ancient harbour (known as the Cobb), characterful Victorian houses and a coastline packed with fossils. Found within the traditional town centre is a multitude of characterful pubs, restaurants, and many outstanding family ran hotels.
Lyme Regis is the best resort town of the Dorset coastline, but its far western location and poor transport mean it's often overlooked for eastern Dorset (such as Bournemouth and Weymouth), or the much more famous regions of Devon and Cornwall. This is a shame, as Lyme is a hidden gem of the south British coastline.
This guide will provide an introduction to Lyme Regis and help you get the most from this quintessential beach town.
The Cobb - The delightful harbour of Lyme Regis, with its formidable seawall, bustling harbour and assortment of traditional houses. During winter, The Cobb provides shelter to the town's fishing fleet, while in summer, it is delightful for a stroll and to admire the views over the coastline.
Monmouth beach – One of the finest beaches of the Jurassic coastline for fossil hunting.
This boulder-strewn beach was once the seabed of an ocean rich with aquatic life, and the abundance of sea life during the Late Triassic period is captured by the many fossils found in the rocks. These fossils can be easily discovered by splitting almost any rock, and seeing the distinctive shape of ammonites and fossilised shells.
Insight: To get the most from your fossil hunting, you will want to bring a hammer!
Ammonites are easily seen within the rocks on Monmouth beach
Lyme to Seatown coastal path – This scenic trail follows part of the Southwest Coast Path and takes in Charmouth and the Golden Cap (191m), the highest point of the region. The 6mile (10km) hiking route takes around 4 hours and climbs some very steep hills. It is best walked westwards from Seatown to Lyme, and there is a bus service connecting Lyme Regis to Seatown.
The view from the top of the Golden Cap towards Seatown beach
Lyme Regis beach - The pretty sandy beach that stretches around Lyme Regis bay. This is a safe, clean and sandy beach, which is ideal for families and is very popular in the summer.
Lyme Regis is ideal for a day trip. All of the sights of the small town can be easily seen within three hours of sightseeing, and the remainder of the day could include relaxing on a beach, hunting for fossils on Monmouth beach or eating some traditional fishing and chips in Langmoor Gardens.
Insight: Lyme Regis is a very hilly town; while exploring it expect to do a lot of uphill walking!
The interactive map below shows the sights of Lyme Regis along with a suggested tour of the town. The route is 4.5km and starts from Woodmead Car Park (the largest car park in the town). The red line marks the Seaton to Lyme Regis footpath. (Note: zoom out to see all of the points)
Key 1) Dinosaurland 2) The Town Mill 3) St Michael’s church 4) The Marine Theatre 5) Church Cliff Beach 6) Gun Cliff 7) Lyme Regis Museum 8) Marine Parade 9) Lyme Regis beach 10) The Cobb 11) Lyme Regis Marine Aquarium 12) Ammonite Pavement 13) Monmouth beach (fossils) 14) Langmoor and Lister Gardens 15) Mini Golf Lyme Regis 16) The Lynch footpath
Pubs and restaurants: 17) The pilot boat Inn 18) Rock Point Inn 19) Cobb Arms 20) The Volunteer Inn 21) Lyme Regis Brewery 22) The Nags Head
Seaton to Lyme hike: 23) Seaton beach 24) Golden Cap 25) Charmouth
Overlooking Lyme from the Cobb sea wall
The beachfront promenade known as the Marine Parade
No matter your age, the best unique activity of Lyme Regis is hunting for fossils.
Almost every rock and bolder within Monmouth beach contains either a fossilised Ammonite, a fossilised shell or the distinctive patterns of fossilised burrows. These fossils were formed during the Late Triassic period (around 200 million years ago), when the region was covered by a shallow and warm sea.
The best fossils to find are Ammonites, with their distinctive swirl patterns from their shells, and these can be easily found, either on rocks that have already been opened or by cracking them open yourself.
The best area of Monmouth beach for fossils is just past the beach huts and in front of the grey "Blue Lias Clay" cliffs. These are very fragile cliffs so never climb them or remove rocks from them. This area is part of the Axmouth-Lym Regis Undercliffs Nature Reserve, and you are free to collect any small fossils that you discover.
Everyone searching the beach for the best fossil
To get the most from your fossil hunting time, do bring a hammer (and some eye protection), as the rocks are very hard and difficult to smash by simply dropping them.
If cracking rocks isn't for you, then there is the stunning Ammonite Pavement on the western side of Monmouth beach (and best seen at low tide). This flat limestone bedrock contains many hundreds of Ammonite fossils, and even contains fossilised ammonites over 65cm.
To see some of the finest fossils that have been found within the Lyme region, either head to the Lyme Regis Museum or the Dinosaurland Fossil Museum – both of which are excellent for a wet day.
The warm Triassic sea waters harboured massive creatures
The best beach of the Lyme Regis region lies at the heart of the town, between the Cobb and the Gun Cliff sea defences.
This beach is known as Lyme Regis beach, and the best sandy section is close to the Cobb, where the seawalls have prevented erosion during winter storms. This is the most popular beach and has calm and clean sea waters that are suitable for children. Further around the bay, the amount of sand decreases and is almost completely formed of stones and pebbles on the eastern side.
Lyme Regis beach is mostly sand near the Cobb and has more pebbles and stones to the east side
Church Cliff Beach is a small sandy beach on the eastern side of Lyme, but it almost disappears at high tide. Further eastwards and at the end of the sea defences, is East Cliff Beach. This is a large beach with a decent amount of sand and has a much more relaxing atmosphere than the beaches in the centre of town.
There is a small sandy beach at the end of the Cobb seawall, just behind the Aquarium. It can provide an alternative if Lyme beach is too busy.
Monmouth beach is much more suited for fossil hunting than a typical beach for relaxing or playing.
Church Cliff Beach is a small alternative sandy beach
Lyme Regis is not known for its nightlife, and it tends to be focused in one of the many characterful pubs.
Popular pubs for tourists (being close to the seafront) include the Cobb Arms, Harbour Inn, and Rock Point Inn. Rock Point Inn has a great outside area overlooking Gun Cliff.
For some local craft beer, head to the Lyme Regis Brewery, set in the pretty The Town Mills complex. For pubs where locals go, and are much cheaper than along the seafront, visit the lively Volunteer Inn or head up the hill to the calmer Nags Head.
Lyme Regis in the evening as seen from Gun Cliff
The Town Mills is the setting of the Lyme Regis Brewery
Lyme Regis is a fantastic town for young children, but apart from fossil hunting, there is not a lot to entertain teenagers.
For all families, the main draw will be the beach and fossil hunting. Other activities include the Mini Golf in the Langmoor Gardens, the small Aquarium on the Cobb (but it is quite expensive for its size) or the free play area in Anning Road park.
For a dose of adrenaline, there are exciting boat rides from Lyme Rib Rides - www.lymeribrides.com/
Lyme Regis Sea Aquarium
During the summer holidays, it can feel as if half of the county has descended on to the small town. The sheer number of visitors can servery detract from the charter of the town, as you fight to find car parking, are packed onto the beach or stand endless in queues for ice cream or drinks.
For a trip to Lyme during the summer, always head to the town as early as possible and be prepared to park a long way from the beachfront. When booking accommodation always check there is car parking.
Insight: The best moths to visit Lyme Regis is in June or September.
For car parking either head to Woodmead Car Park or Charmouth Road car park. Woodmead Car Park is to the north of the town centre and is the most likely place to find space in the summer. Charmouth Road car park is the second largest carpark but lies to the far east of the town.
Lyme Regis is a fantastic location for a relaxing holiday destination.
Lyme Regis has a much calmer and more personable atmosphere than the other bustling resort towns of Dorset, such as Weymouth, Bournemouth or Poole. This makes the town an ideal choice for families with young children or older visitors. Lyme is not a destination for buzzing nightlife or action-packed holidays (families with teenagers or groups wanting a party-focused holiday).
Day trips from Lyme could include Charmouth and the pretty village of Abbotsbury.