Devon & Dorset
The Jurassic Coast: Exmouth to Lyme Regis
Het merendeel van de kustlijn van Oost-Devon en Dorset is nog onaangetast; prachtig gekleurde kliffen - rode leisteen, witte kalksteen en gele zandsteen. De nederzettingen onderweg zijn karaktervol: de lieflijke Victoriaanse badplaats Sidmouth, het mooie dorp Beer waar de vissersboten het kiezelstrand opgetrokken worden, Lyme Regis met zijn steile straten en middeleeuwse havenmuur, Abbotsbury met zijn tiendschuur en zwaan (beide middeleeuws) en de 15e eeuwse Sint-Catharinakapel, de drukke haven van Weymouth. Deze zuidkust staat bekend om zijn milde en zonnige klimaat waar het hele jaar door gewandeld kan worden. De route is goed beschreven en de dagafstanden van 12 tot 20 km zijn niet inspannend. De tour is geschikt voor redelijk fitte wandelaars met weinig of geen wandelervaring.
De kenmerkende gekleurde kliffen van deze kust zijn van internationaal belang vanwege de bijna volledige geologische profielen door Mesozoïsche lagen, in het bijzonder de Jura, die ze tonen. De kust is gemakkelijk toegankelijk is voor wandelaars via het South West Coast Path.
Daily stages, with distances, heights and approximate walking times.
Walking times are estimated for an average walker, omitting breaks for rests and visits to points of interest en route.
Day 1. Arrive Exmouth. Exmouth, in a beautiful setting at the mouth of the estuary of the River Exe, is a typical English seaside holiday resort. You can explore the town and beach on foot. If you arrive very early there could also be time for an excursion by train to Exeter (historic city centre and cathedral).
Day 2. Walk Exmouth to Sidmouth. 20km/12.5 miles/6 hours walking time. Ascent/descent 390m/1280 feet. Highest point 157m/515 feet (Peak Hill).
A failrly gentle introduction to English coast path walking. However, as the day proceeds the hills get higher and the views longer. Mostly you follow the crest of the red cliffs, but at the ancient port of Budleigh Salterton, from where Walter Raleigh set off to the Carolinas, you descend to sea level to cross the river Otter. The day can be shortened by using buses to reduce the distance, time and height gain/loss. But we recommend persevering - you have all day to get there!
Day 3. Walk Sidmouth to Beer. 14.2km/8.8miles/5 hours walking time. Ascent/descent 610 m (2000 feet). Highest point 162m/531 feet (Weston Cliff).
For most of the day you follow the crest of red cliffs, with several abrupt descents to cross the deep wooded combes. The repeated short steep ascents and descents are unavoidably strenuous. Take your time! Those fond of animals will only need to make a short detour from the coast path to visit the famous donkey sanctuary, where up to 400 retired donkeys live a life of leisure. Entry free every day. Beyond Branscombe the colour of the cliffs changes abruptly to the intense white of the chalk of Beer Head. The brilliant white chalk cliffs overlook Beer’s delightful sheltered beach, where fishing boats are still winched up the shingle.
Day 4. Walk Beer to Lyme Regis. 13.7km/8.5 miles/4.5 hours walking time. Ascent/descent approximately 400m/1300 feet. Highest point 120m/393 feet (Barn Close Lane). The going through the magnificent sub-tropical jungle of the Undercliff is often slow. The undergrowth is so dense that often you can hear the sea but not see it. The path is in places subject to landslips and detours may be required. Note: in 2014 a short but critical section of the Undercliff footpath was closed for more than 2 years on account of landslips, making it temporarily impossible to walk the whole section from end to end. The path was fully repaired and re-opened by 2017, but temporary detours and closures of this and other sectors of the coast path are always possible
Options for a day in Lyme Regis (J5 tour). Options include exploring the fascinating town with its steep main street and ancient harbour wall (the famous 'Cobb', which features in both Jane Austen's 'Persuasion' and John Fowles' 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'). Or you can walk the next stretch of roller-coaster cliffs between Charmouth and West Bay and return by bus from West Bay or from an intermediate point to Lyme (see below: ‘Day 5 hiking option’). The bus service operates once per hour, on Sundays (except in winter) every 2 hours. Or just wander along the shore from Lyme to look for fossils (care needed on account of tides – we provide tide tables!) We also provide hints on where to find some of the best fossils.
Day 5 hiking option. Walk Lyme Regis to West Bay (Bridport harbour). 16km/10 miles/6 hours walking time. Ascent/descent 730m/2400 feet(100m less ascent if starting walk from Morcombelake). Highest points 190m/620 feet (Chardown and Golden Cap). The first part of the coastal path, from Lyme Regis to Charmouth is diverted inland across agolf course because of coastal erosion. To avoid this diverted section we advise taking a bus either to Charmouth or Morcombelake, from either of which you can walk via Stonebarrow to rejoin the coast path at Cain’s Folly.
The walk on to West Bay makes a superb day, one of the best on the whole of the South West Coast Long Distance Trail, with magnificent views. The going is strenuous, with sustained ascents and descents, but the day can be shortened by walking inland to the bus route. Return to Lyme Regis by bus from West Bay or an intermediate point.
Day 6. Depart Lyme Regis. If departing by public transport the most convenient route is by bus or taxi to Axminster rail station (journey time 20 minutes), then train to Exeter (change trains at Exeter for Exmouth or Bristol or London Paddington); or slower direct train from Axminster to London Waterloo. There is also a good bus service from Lyme Regis to Dorchester South rail station, from where there are faster and more frequent direct trains to Bournemouth, Southampton, Southampton Airport, Woking (bus link to Heathrow airport) and London Waterloo. To return to Exmouth (for instance to collect your car) you can book a taxi for the whole journey from Lyme Regis, or go by bus (change buses in Sidmouth).