Despite living in Dorset for 17 years I have never visited Kimmeridge Bay, which is situated on the Isle of Purbeck, approximately 4 miles from Corfe Castle.
Isaac and Eliza have both been desperate to go fossil hunting since we went to the Fossil Festival in Lyme Regis earlier in the year and I have been told that Kimmeridge Bay is an ideal location for a spot of fossil hunting.
We set off just after lunch on Sunday afternoon and found ourselves heading along some narrow country roads to get there. I assumed, wrongly, that the car park was a National Trust one, but it is situated on a private estate and cost £5 per car to park.
It was worth it though – the view was spectacular.
It was a short walk to the beach, down some narrow steps and across a wooden bridge, complete with tank traps and an ammo shelter! If you are visiting with young children you won’t be able to take a buggy / pram down so I would advise you take baby in a carrier like we have.
The kids couldn’t wait to get exploring. There are hard bands of limestone within the Kimmeridge Clay that create a series of rocky ledges that run out to sea. As a result, the Bay boasts some of the most accessible marine wildlife in the UK and t he stone ledges make it easy to view life on the shore an in the shallow waters.
The ledges were a little slippery in places as had a fine coating of slippery seaweed on them, but there was lots to see. We found Limpets, Barnacles, fish, crabs and even caught a shrimp!
The older kids weren’t interested in rockpooling and were busy having a skimming stones competition. Isaac and Eliza soon joined in and it morphed into who could make the biggest splash!
Hubby and Kian decided they wanted to walk up to Clavell Tower at the top of the hill so they set off whilst I stayed on the beach with the others. The four storey, circular tower stands high on the cliff overlooking Kimmeridge Bay. Built in 1830 its location has captivated many including writers like Hardy and PD James and you can even stay in it now.
I couldn’t tear the little ones away from throwing stones until I found our first ammonite and then the fossil hunting began.
I have to admit navigating the beach was quite tough as it is very uneven, but that all added to the fun. At one point I left Eliza and Isaac with the teen so I could quench my thirst for a bit of geology – the rocks at Kimmeridge Bay were once the floor of a deep, tropical sea rich in pre-historic life. They formed in the Jurassic period, 155 million years ago.
The cliffs and foreshore contain a very thick sequence of Kimmeridge Clay. The rock layers are like the pages in a book and the fossils they contain tell a story on each page. Each rock layer provides a window allowing us to look back through geological time. The sequence of rocks here provides such an excellent record of this part of the Jurassic that geologists have adopted Kimmeridgian as the term for rocks of this age all around the world.
Callan taught Isaac and Eliza a joke, which they both thought was highly amusing…….
By now it was time to start heading back to the car, stopping for some more photo’s on the way.
We will definitely be back to Kimmeridge Bay – but this time with our wet suits and snorkels to see what we can find under the water – they even do glass bottom Kayak tours which look amazing!
One more thing……….never leave your phone with my daughter as she will take numerous selfies’. I had no choice but to do this: