Take a stroll, hunt for fossils, or simply enjoy some dino-themed fun; the Jurassic Coast is the place to do it.
Head to Old Harry Rocks
Begin your journey back in time at the Old Harry Rocks: the eastern starting point of the Jurassic Coast. As well as being a famous local landmark, these three rocks are the remains of an old chalk formation, which once stretched all the way from Purbeck to the Isle of Wight. You can reach the rocky headland on foot from Studland – and once you’re there, you can take a walk, look out for wildlife, or simply soak up the views.
Travelling from Knoll House to Spyway, near Swanage, a 15-minute car journey can take you back 145 million years. Here, at Keates Quarry, you can walk among dinosaur footprints captured forever in fossilised mud. It’s thought that these tracks were once made by brachiosaurs – gentle, long-necked giants – when the area was a mix of coastal forests and swamps.
Get close to history
No trip to Dorset is complete without a spot of fossil hunting – and there’s no better way to appreciate the incredible history of this area than literally holding it in your hand. It’s also the ultimate family activity, with little ones able to get stuck into searching for fossils.
To make a day of it, head off to Lyme Regis, just over an hour away; birthplace of the trailblazing palaeontologist and fossil collector Mary Anning. On Lyme Regis beach, you can find fossils that are millions of years old among the loose stones on the shoreline (it’s better to avoid the cliffs). Some of the most commonly found are ammonites, belemnites and crinoids. If you’re lucky, you might even spot fragments of backbones belonging to ichthyosaurs, now-extinct large marine reptiles.
While you’re in the area, you could also seek out the Ammonite Pavement. During low tide on Monmouth Beach, the sea withdraws to reveal remarkable limestone ledges studded with hundreds of fossilised ammonites. These are protected, so can’t be gathered – but they’re well worth a visit, purely to stand and marvel at.
If you’re in Lyme Regis and are keen to see what others have found, go along to the family friendly Lyme Regis Museum on Bridge Street. The museum has an impressive array of fossils, as well as an interactive geology gallery and children’s activities. You can also book a fossil-hunting walk with a local expert, exploring the life of Mary Anning and the geology of the Jurassic Coast. After this, just a short walk away, you could visit the Dinosaurland Fossil Museum, which has over 16,000 specimens on display.
If this whets your appetite for finding out more, there’s also in Dorchester. As its name suggests, this is a space entirely dedicated to dinosaurs and their prehistoric world. Designed to be interactive and immersive, the museum comes alive with sights, sounds and even smells (if you dare, you can smell the breath of a T-Rex). There are dinosaur skeletons, life-sized reconstructions, and an excavation pit.
Have some dino fun
After all this history, head off for some light-hearted family fun at Mighty Adventures in Bournemouth. This dino-themed mini golf course brings the Jurassic landscape to life, with moving dinosaurs, volcanoes, and waterfalls. If you plan on visiting, you can book your tickets online in advance.
Stay with us
We love welcoming families to Knoll House and have plenty to keep children well entertained. If you’re planning a dino-hunting holiday in Dorset, why not stay with us? From 1st July to 9th September 2023, we’re offering a special Fun in the Sun package, with options to stay for two, three or four nights. From here, the Jurassic Coast is your playground.