As a new resident of London, and having previous lived and worked by the beach, I am always craving a break from the city. I took a day trip to Brighton not too long ago, and so I wanted a different sea side town to satisfy my need to see the ocean. At only around 2.5 hours by train from London, Lyme Regis lends itself very well to a weekend away from London. A quaint seaside town with a cute little beach and plenty to keep visitors busy, we recently spent a wonderfully relaxing weekend in Lyme Regis.
A quaint sea side town
Lyme Regis is a tiny little town nestled on the “Jurassic Coast” – a 96 mile stretch of coastline fringing Devon and Dorset. This World Heritage Site is known for the huge amount of fossils discovered in the area. Take a stroll down to the beach on any given day in this area and you will see families and fossil enthusiasts scouring the rocks at the foot of the cliffs for a fossil of their own. One of Lyme’s most famous residents was Mary Anning. She discovered many huge fossils, some of which can be seen in The Natural History Museum in London. She is a hugely underrated yet influential paleontologist and I highly recommend doing some reading about this lady. There will also be a film starring Kate Winslet coming to the big screens soon about the life and work of Mary Anning. Filming recently took place in Lyme Regis!
Things to do in Lyme Regis
For some, a weekend in Lyme Regis may be purely for relaxing. For others, it might be taking in all that the little town has to offer! Whatever you feel like doing with your time, there are plenty of things to do in Lyme Regis to keep you busy!
Walk along the Cobb..
The most popular area is of course the beach and seafront area. Take a stroll along the famous Cobb, a concrete arm that extends into the sea, protecting the harbour from waves. Walking out along the top means you get lovely views out to sea and of the marina. Often you will find people all along the Cobb with little plastic buckets, waiting patiently with crab lines dangling into the muddy marina below. If waves are high or weather is particularly bad, you may want to give the walk a miss and take shelter in a nearby pub, and watch in awe as huge waves crash over the wall.
See a Banksy original
An absolute must see and sometimes overlooked highlight in Lyme Regis is the original Banksy which appeared overnight in 2012. The painting of an origami bird with a fish in it’s mouth is in the “Lynch” area, on a wall next to the River Lym. Close to the town centre, head to the Town Mill and follow the river. The painting is now quite faded, after flooding and the location right next to the river has eroded the paint over time. If in doubt, ask a local to point it out!
Take some photos!
Along the promenade, the cute and quirky beach houses that line the beach front make a great subject for photos, as do the beautifully designed ammonite street lamps! If you are into taking photos, you will find great opportunities as you wander around Lyme.
Take a walk
Take a walk through Langmoor gardens and you will be rewarded with gorgeous ocean views. The lawns and flowers are perfectly manicured too. It is a great spot to have a picnic or just relax for a while. For something further flung, you can walk to Uplyme and see the old viaduct. In the past few years a new walkway has also been built down on the seafront meaning you can walk all the way to Charmouth.
Indulge in some retail therapy
Set some time aside to browse the local shops. The town is full of quirky, independent shops selling everything from fossil related memorabilia to hand crafted jewelry. There are also plenty of art shops and a very cute dog themed shop on the high street! My absolute favourite shop is the old antique shop right on the waterfront next to the arcade. It is full of all kinds of memorabilia, vintage clothes and collectables. I never buy anything but I always like to just see what they have in!
Go fossil hunting
It is a very common sight to see locals and visitors wandering the beach with their heads down. Head away from the main town either towards Charmouth or past the Cobb along the beach for your best chances. You can smash stones apart by just throwing them or buy a small hammer. Look for the stones that appear to have layers, then try to break them open and hopefully e rewarded with a lovely little ammonite! Always stay back from the cliffs faces and take the safety signs seriously.
Relax on the beach
Whilst the beach on this part of the coast is naturally pebbly, there is a section of man made sandy beach in Lyme. This relatively small area of sand can get very full when the sun comes out! Many people even brave the water in summer.
Visit the Town Mill
Tucked away in a small cobbled courtyard is the Town Mill. The mill is still in use today and produces flour. You can have a look around inside and there are some informative boards to tell you what exactly you are looking at and a bit more about the milling process. The area around the mill is also great for picking up one off gifts and artisan handicrafts.
If you have more time, a car, or just a keen sense of adventure, there are plenty of things to see and do slightly further afield. Not too far out of Lyme you will find the Sidmouth Donkey Sanctuary. This is a great charity and rescue centre, and is particuylarly good for familes, however I as a full gron adult love it too! It is great to see the donkeys and get to give them a stroke, but it is also good to know that you are contributing to something helping out with the animals welfare.
There are plenty of other charming little towns around Lyme to explore too. West Bay is particularly popular as the series Broadchurch was filmed there. Another stunning spot is Lulworth Cove and Durdle door. The beach in this area is enough to make you forget you are still in the UK. Durdle door itself is a rocky archway which just into the sea and makes for an amazing view! If you don’t have your own transport I highly recommend using to Jurassic Coaster buses, but just be mindful they are fairly expensive and you may be better off getting a Day rider ticket, depending on how much you will use the buses that day.
Golden Cap from Lyme Regis
When I went earlier this month, I took the short trip to walk up Golden Cap, which is the highest point on the South Coast of England. Don’t let that scare you though, it is actually only 191 metres high and a very easy walk! If using public transport, take the bus towards Bridport and get off at Charmouth or Morcombelake, both within a mile of Golden Cap. From the top, you are rewarded with a stunning view of the dramatic coastline, and for a moment you might forget that you are still in the UK.
Where to stay in Lyme Regis
If you plan on spending a night or 2 in Lyme, I highly recommend getting your accommodation sorted as soon as possible. Whilst there is no shortage of hotels, there is certainly a lack of more budget friendly accommodation. The B&B’s and guesthouses which are more affordable get booked out pretty quickly, so get yourself organised if you don’t want to spend a small fortune!
We stayed in the beautifully quirky “Mermaid House”, a small guesthouse that doubles as an art shop. 2 minutes walk from the beach and right near the town centre, this place is perfect. It is an old grade II listed building and as such has heaps of character. Think wooden floors, beams and window shutters. The absolute best thing about staying here was the breakfast! The lovely owner gives a quiet knock on the door in the morning, which is a sign that your breakfast is waiting outside. Two trays full of fresh croissants, fruit, proper coffee, muesli and more are prepared for you to bring into your room and eat at your leisure!
On the other end of the spectrum, if you are going for a special occasion or fancy splashing out, take a look at The Alexandra. Set in its own gardens slightly above Lyme, it offers luxurious rooms, 5 star service and unbeatable sea views. If the budget just wont stretch, you could always pop in for afternoon tea!
Where to eat in Lyme Regis
Being a beach front town, it is no surprise there are some great seafood options. Award winning Hix Restaurant has a fine selection for a seafood lover and is perfect for special occasions. Other great dinner time dining options are Lal Quilla Indian restaurant on the main high street, and The Millside Restaurant.
Lyme really shines when it comes to deli’s, bakery’s and chip shops though. Along the main high street are several places selling huge cornish pastys, golden pies filled with all kinds of delicious ingredients, home made scones…the list goes on. Plus, there are cheese counters and local butchers. My personal favourite is The Good Food store, but a few doors down you can pick up some amazing homemade treats in Mulberry Manor. The town just lends itself to the idea of picnics! Pick up a few bits and head to the beach for a tasty al fresco lunch! Alternatively, stay traditional and pick up some fresh fish and chips. By far the best in town is Lyme Bay Fish Bar, who have a shop on Coombe street and a small kiosk down the beach front. Queues for Lyme Bay Fish bar can be long but it is absolutely worth the wait.
So there you have it… a short hop from London, a chance to see the ocean and enough thing to do to keep you entertained!
Have you spent a weekend in Lyme Regis? How did you find it? Let me know in the comments!