Sidmouth is the gateway to the Jurassic Coast, England’s only natural World Heritage Site as named by UNESCO in 2001.
The Jurassic Coast is a hugely diverse and beautiful landscape which is full of geological importance. The coast begins in Devon at Exmouth and then continues through to neighbouring Dorset, the beautiful towns and villages of East Devon, including Sidmouth.
The Jurassic Coast is one of the most popular destinations in the south west of Britain, visitors have been known to come from all over the world to see the iconic red cliffs, go fossil hunting and enjoy up to 95 miles of coastline.
Discover the south west’s prehistoric era
The Jurassic Coast covers three geological time periods, the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. For those that don’t know, these three time periods are collectively known as the Mesozoic Era and this covers a huge time period, experts think it ran from 250-65 million years ago. The rocks and fossils that can be found along the coastline and the cliffs throughout Sidmouth and the neighbouring towns and villages show an almost complete record of that entire time – which is why it is such an exciting resource for history and geography fans alike.
There are plenty of ways to explore this incredible World Heritage Site. There are walking trails all over the Jurassic Coast, including routes that join to the South West Coast Path, the 95 miles of the coast from Exmouth up to Old Harry Rocks in Dorset make up part of the national trail and there are loads of connecting footpaths and bridleways accessible from the main route, so wherever you are along the coast, you can easily head out and explore. Throughout the Jurassic Coast there are also a number of Guided Walks that are led by the Jurassic Coast Trust’s volunteers and Sidmouth’s Walking Festival also takes on some of the walks around Sidmouth’s part of the Jurassic Coast.
When exploring the Jurassic Coast it is important to be aware of your surroundings at all times. The cliffs are constantly eroding and rock falls and landslides are common especially when there has been bad weather – however, landslides can happen at any time so it is important to pay attention to the warning signs and messages that are dotted around the cliff top walks and coastal areas.
For those of you who want a tour of the cliffs, why not book a pleasure cruise? You can pick up boats from Sidmouth giving you some of the best sites of the Jurassic Coast. Or you can visit Sidmouth Museum where you can find many rare fossils from the Triassic Period that have been found on the beaches, including the remains of a Rhynchosaur. The Arches Interpretation Centre which can be found on the Esplanade is a great place to go if you want to find out more about the Jurassic Coast, it’s free to enter and has a range of interactive exhibits, plus information about walking routes.
If you’re looking to explore the Jurassic Coast and find out more about this fascinating part of Britain’s history, Sidmouth is a wonderful place to base yourself. Looking for somewhere to stay while you’re in town? Click here to find out what accommodation is on offer.