Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis is well-known for its spectacular natural beauty and has inspired many well-known writers including Jane Austen and John Fowles.

This attractive town has a fascinating history stretching back to the 8th century.  The famous Cobb wall, dating from the 13th century, protected the harbour and allowed the town to develop as an important port on the south coast.  A walk along the Cobb is a must for any visitor. The town itself is a maze of narrow winding streets where independent local shops, cafes and galleries can be explored.  The River Lym flows gently through the heart of the town turning the recently restored Town Mill waterwheel.

The unspoilt seafront with sheltered south-facing beaches provides a perfect environment in which children can play and adults relax in the traditional deckchairs that still line the promenade in summer.  Many boat excursions run from the ancient harbour for pleasure and fishing trips.  There are also opportunities to sail and windsurf locally.    Of course a trip to Lyme Regis would not be complete without fossil hunting.  The rich geological and natural history of the area can be explored at Dinosaurland in Coombe Street , or at the award winning Philpot Museum (where organised fossil hunting walks can be booked) on the seafront. Lyme Regis also has a formidable reputation for walks.  It is hilly terrain but the dramatic views and rare flora and fauna make it very worthwhile.

It’s possible to walk from Leys to Lyme Regis, following the old river bed, in around 30 minutes. At the bottom of the drive (where it joins Lime Kiln Lane), turn left, passing the church (on left); a few yards further on turn right into Church St; at the bottom of the hill turn left onto a footpath; after 100 yards or so this meets a minor road; walk across and keep going straight on until you get to some steps down to the stream on the right. This footpath will bring you into the centre of Lyme Regis. From here it is a short walk along the seafront to The Cobb, the ancient and much painted/photographed harbour. The return is uphill, so you may prefer to take a bus back!

By car, Lyme Regis town centre with its charming shops and air of faded gentility is around 5 minutes away.  In essence it has changed little in 50 years.  There are still plenty of quaint, quirky shops, including several specialising in fossils. Fossil Walks (tides permitting) can be booked in the Tourist Office   (Church St., Lyme Regis DT7 3BS; tel: 01297 442138; lymeregis.tic@westdorset-dc.gov.uk; www.westdorset.com).

There are several galleries, including The Town Mill, Mill Lane, Lyme Regis DT7 3PU (tel: 01297 443579; e-mail: info@townmill.org.uk), where there is a range of different arts and crafts.

The  acclaimed Town Mill bakery with its mouth-watering selection of patisseries is also worth closer inspection.