Fossil Hunting in Lyme Regis

Today was the day! I made sure we had an early breakfast so we could head into Lyme Regis before 10, to be at the museum for when it opened. We parked the car easily, and wandered down cutesy narrow streets with bricked fences and pastel houses on our way to the Dinosaurland Fossil Museum.

Over 25 years old, it is an independent museum run and owned by Paleontologist Steve Davies and his wife Jenny.  Steve greeted us, and as the first people there we were able to question him about the museum, his love of dinosaurs, fossils, and the area – his favourite time being winter with the wild seas and strong winds forcing the cliffs to reveal more fossils to be found.

You could feel the passion and personal touch of the Davies’ throughout the museum – mostly local collections, but a few others, just because they liked them – and wanted to share them with the world. There was a great sense of humour in many of the displays, my favourite being the memorial site to the Battles of Dinosaur Wars – as below!

I couldn’t believe how huge many of the ammonites were, and became a Belemnite fan (never having heard of them before, ‘an extinct order of squid-like cephalopods’ – and of course, fell in love with the Ithys (what I call the Ichthyosaur’s because I still can’t pronounce the name…) The Time Gallery – taking you through Deep Time until present day, in about 20 minutes, was fantastically informative, but also a lot of fun. I came out of the Museum absolutely buzzing (as was Mum!) – THIS was exactly what I wanted from my trip. And to be enjoying myself this much, exploring, learning, during Covid – I felt truly blessed.

We then wandered into the ‘Town Mill’ complex – Mum & Dad tasted local alcoholic brews, whilst I had an oatmilk flat white with a slice of vegan ginger cake. Sat in the little courtyard next to the working Water Mill that initially dated back 700 years, I was a very happy lady. The current flour mill was to be demolished in the 1990s but saved from this fate by a group of volunteers raising £500,000 for its restoration, re-opening in 2001. During the local Covid lockdown they continued working providing flour at cheaper cost than usual to local residents. It was genuinely very cool to see the water mill in action, learn about the milling process, hearing first hand the passion and commitment from the millers.

We then walked up the main street, perused in a local bookstore (my first non-supermarket shop in five months) bought some local fudge (LOOK how happy Mum is…) before getting some delicious Cornish Pasties (yup, vegan for me) at The Gallery Cafe (highly recommended!)

After lunch I ‘suggested’ we go to Monmouth Beach – I wasn’t really going to take no for an answer. Just on the other side of The Cobb from Lyme Regis town, it is one of the most popular and famous fossil hunting sites. You are encouraged to look for fossils, to smash up the rocks yourself, and take home what you find – but politely asked to let someone know if you find anything big, or that might be of interest. They say if people don’t come to find fossils and take them home – they will only be lost to the sea!

Thankfully there are always a few large fossils around for people like Mum & I, who didn’t bring little hammers, and were not quite sure what we were looking for. Mum was pretty determined to find something to take home, but we didn’t. So – I guess we will need to go back – with little hammers!

Home for a quick swim (of course) and then off out to The Goose & Badger Pop Up Restaurant (run by Joel, Sarah’s fiancé – it’s not daily so check the website or Instagram.) Having seen pictures of the food, and knowing his resume – I was very excited. I was not however expecting my own personal printed menu! This, coupled with a parcel of Girls That Scuba & A Waste Free World goodies – made me feel like it was birthday! Arriving early we took a little detour to walk through Langmoor and Lister Gardens admiring a spectacular view of The Cobb and harbour.

Oh my. The food was fantastic. Exquisite. Divine. Local sourced ingredients; you could taste the freshness, and the passion and excitement with which they were cooked and put together. And wow, did the dishes keep coming! We were told we’d be in for a fabulous dinner, but even with this prior knowledge we were wowed.

Needing to walk off the food a little Mum and I took a detour to the site of Mary Anning’s House, now the Philpott Museum – unfortunately closed during our visit. Elizabeth Philpot was also a fossil collector, amateur palentologist, and a friend of Mary Anning’s.

On the final morning I took a run up and around the little forest, before we headed to Charmouth Beach as I ‘suggested’ that we go to the Museum there.

A small museum, I would say like the Dinosaurland Fossil museum, a must, for anyone interested in Fossil collecting. A great collection, with really interesting and informative displays. We of course finished our time on the coast, with a dip in the sea; Mum looking through the rocks on the beach, hoping to maybe find a little ammonite of her own… (she did not.)

I wish we had been able to go on a guided fossil tour, and spend a little more time really fossil hunting, but – just reasons to go back. This holiday; my first British seaside summer holiday exceeded all expectations – and to have this break – the sun, the sea, the time out from the day to day life with my parents – during Covid and the stressful, panic inducing, anxiety-ridden world that had become ‘normal’ left me, and still does, feeling incredibly grateful. The area is stunning naturally; the beaches, the coastline, the sea, the hills – the people were so friendly, the food delicious. Honestly, I could not have asked for more and feel so, so blessed. On the way home we stopped off to see an old family friend, swapping travel stories and old memories – it was the perfect ending to the weekend away – my soul felt refreshed.

All of this, only 3.5 hours away from London…

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