The Undercliff, Lyme Regis

Lyme Regis

Immediately west of Lyme Regis, the Undercliff nature reserve is one of the most important wilderness areas in Britain, stretching along the cliffs towards the neighbouring town of Seaton in Devon. The beach below is good for fossil-hunting, as the cliffs’ complex geology make them perfect for preserving fossils, which frequent landslips then expose. Indeed, it was here, in 1811, that the almost complete skeleton of a 30ft ichthyosaurus dinosaur (now displayed in London’s Natural History Museum) was discovered by a twelve-year-old local girl, Mary Anning, after parts of the cliffs collapsed. The overgrown landslips form a jungle-like habitat which is fun to explore: a path leads from behind the harbour up a steep flight of steps into the woodlands of the Undercliff, riven with streams and valleys, and sudden open grassy areas affording dramatic sea views.

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