Cordial Lyme

... and at the other end of the county Catherine Stebbings finds dinosaurs, squids and trams

It would be difficult to get lost in Lyme Regis - everything tumbles down the hill towards the sea. Yet Dorset's most westerly town is well protected from the ravages of ocean waves. Below the lively high street, a long promenade forms the main causeway from the town to the Cobb, the curving harbour wall that dates back to the 13th century. This massive structure has a mythic quality that has fascinated writers and artists for centuries. But although Jane Austen and John Fowles put Lyme on the literary map - with Persuasion and The French Lieutenant's Woman respectively - the town has too much self-respect and too much to offer to present you with Regency dresses or Meryl Streep's hooded face around each corner.

This engaging resort is well equipped with entertainments - including a dinosaur museum and an intriguing marine exhibition area along the Cobb. In addition, there's always the fascination of the British seaside: along the promenade sunbathers lounge on hired deckchairs watching bathers in the sea. Shops overflowing with buckets and spades are squeezed between the smarter B&Bs. A drop down, and you find yourself on the beach - patches of golden sand interspersed by large stretches of pebbles along the seafront.

And pebbly beaches sprawl along the coast from Lyme. There are rich pickings here: fossil hunters search among rocks or dig away at the foot of the charcoal-grey cliffs. Meanwhile swimmers brave the freezing waters, children mess about in bobbing boats and windsurfers skim out to sea.

The visitors

Catherine Stebbings, writer, and her husband Jonathan, teacher, took their daughters, Imogen, seven, Polly, five and Claudia, three.

Catherine: We had a wonderful, if exhausting day. It was lovely not to be confined to the beach all day. We visited Dinosaurland, went fossil hunting, picnicked on the beach, popped into the marine aquarium, looked around the shops and still had time for a tram ride through the countryside.

Jonathan: I don't like beaches; they are cold, wet and sandy; but it's important to make the effort for the children. Lyme is brilliant because it is so varied. We could break up the day between sunbathing and sand castle making with fossil hunting, museum visiting and browsing around the shops in the town. There is always something going on in Lyme, whether it's the town band playing on the parade, sand games for children, or guided walks. I would love to come back without children to walk the famous Undercliff from Lyme to Seaton and perhaps to tackle the coastal walk over Golden Cap.

We took the tram ride from Colyton, just 15 minutes' drive away, to Seaton, which was a lovely way to enjoy the countryside. By the end of the day I felt foolhardy enough to enter the annual greasy pole competition, only to be bopped into the murky depths of the harbour.

Imogen: I liked the museums most. We went to the dinosaur museum and saw lots of fossils and models of dinosaurs and some living animals, like an iguana and a tortoise. I did a fun shoot and the man gave me a special stone as a prize. Afterwards we went fossil hunting on the pebbly beach and I found some ammonites like the ones in the museum. It is really exciting to find something millions of years old.

We had a picnic on the Cobb then went to the marine museum full of fish from the harbour. There was a lovely, rusty-coloured octopus moving slowly over the rocks, gripping with his legs then suddenly swooping away.

Polly: Lyme Regis is a lovely town with lots of old buildings and little shops selling buckets and spades. The sea was green-blue and there were hills in the distance. There was a nice sandy beach with lots of people on it and we couldn't take the dog there so we went on the little beach in the Cobb. I didn't go into the sea because it was too cold.

I enjoyed the ride on the tram. We saw squirrels and ducks on the line and herons fishing in the river. Mummy saw a kingfisher.

Claudia: I like the seaside. I made lots of sand castles and got very dirty. Daddy fell in the sea with a big splash.

The deal.

Tourist Information: Church St (01297 442138) for accommodation and copies of What's on in Lyme Regis.

Parking: Use the well signposted Park and Rides as there is little parking in Lyme; small pay-and-display car parks by the Cobb and at the top and bottom of the High Street.

Access: narrow pavements and steep hills in the town make walking with children difficult. Easy access along the parade and Cobb and on to the sandy harbour beach. Dogs are not allowed on the harbour beach.

Museums: Dinosaurland is a small exhibition explaining the history of prehistoric earth and the fossilised forms left behind. Well explained and nicely low key. Open daily 10am-5pm (later in summer): adults pounds 3,20, children pounds l.90, OAPs pounds 2.90. Marine Aquarium & Cobb History is a charming small museum showing live exhibits brought in by local fisherman. Everything is returned to the sea at the end of the season. Open 10am-late, adults pounds l.20, children five-to-16 70p, OAPs pounds 1.

Tram rides on classic trams run daily every 20 mins. Round trips 50 mins. Adults pounds 4.20, children pounds 2.40, OAPs pounds 3.40.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - OTE £36,000

    £12500 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established Knaresborough ...

    Beverley James: Accounts Payable

    £23,000: Beverley James: Do you have a background in hospitality and are you l...

    Recruitment Genius: Cleaning Manager - York and Bradford

    £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The post holder is a key member of the V...

    Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Drivers

    £18000 - £28800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Vehicle Breakdown Recovery Driv...

    Day In a Page

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003