I have the perfect cure for the jetlag … Get out in the invigorating sea breeze, and climb a steep cliff or two. Especially in a place that is elemental, where, in times past, the masses of land have crashed and giant prehistoric reptiles have traveled the earth.
This is what I do less than eight hours after leaving an airplane. My brother booked a weekend in Devon to escape London full, and it turned out to be active and adventurous. I am aware that like my geography, I have never heard of the windy Jurassic coast, a fossil coast and 95 miles from Devon to Dorset. It became the first natural site of England’s world heritage in 2001.
According to the Royal Geographical Society, “This is the only place in the world where 185 million years of geological history are exposed sequentially on the cliffs, coves, shore banks and barrier beaches.”
The rocks not only date from the Jurassic period, but also cover the oldest and Triassic geological periods of the Cretaceous. The only thing about the Jurassic Coast is that this is an area where the crust has been inverted, lifting and exposed ancient layers of rock above sea level. This coast could be called the birthplace of modern paleontology.
It all started when a local girl, Mary Anning, 12, explored a beach with her brother Joseph in Lyme Regis, Dorset, in the 19th century. She discovered the fossil remains of a 17-foot-long creature with a skull like a dolphin, Called Ichthyosaurus (fish or lizard).
His family was paid a few shillings for the fins; She grew up to be a fossil collector and, in December 1823, found the first complete Plesiosaurus. His discoveries have greatly influenced scientific theories about prehistoric life and the history of the Earth.
We started from Hampstead, in the center of London, southwards towards Exeter for about three hours, windswept seascapes and twisted trees. Small towns with church steeples increase until reaching a small village called Langford near Cullompton, Devon.
It is the month of May and booked a charming accommodation Airbnb – a rustic hut called Honeysuckle hideaway, with a view of green fields and a fishing pond.
Our first port of call on the east coast of Sidmouth, a classic Regency spa and gateway to the Jurassic coast. Once the Smugglers’ Refuge, today it has a buzzing esplanade full of cafes that serve local seafood, cold boxes and hotels with terraces adorned with flowers that hang in baskets. Dogs swim in shallow waters, children build sand castles and walk on stony beaches looking for shrimp in rock basins.
Sidmouth has been a favorite place for books and movies – from Beatrix Potter to Agatha Christie – because of its walk and its typical holiday feel.
The city, which lies at the mouth of the River Sid in a valley between two hills, has red and vibrant cliffs of the Triassic geological period on both sides. The rocks are red because they formed in a hot dry desert 240 million years ago.
Some of the rare fossils of amphibian reptiles and bones that have been found on beaches over the years are exhibited at the Sidmouth Museum on Church Street.
We walked in Clifton walk about half a mile under the towering red cliffs, watching the kids balance out the gravity workouts on the beach, then Jacob’s Scale, a sandy pebble beach with beach huts.
From here we head along the coast to the picturesque village of Branscombe between two steep valleys, dotted with thatch cottages with hanging baskets of roses and vines. We visited an ancient forge 1580, where plows, fishing hooks, axheads and irons were manufactured in the past.