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Fossil Hunting/Jurassic Coast ??

Our family (mom, dad, and kids, 7, 12 and 14) are planning our first-time trip to the UK in mid-July.

We are flying into London and spending a week, then taking the train to Edinburgh for our last four days and flying home to the states from there.

We want to take some day trips from London, but not over-do it. We think we may pass on some of the huge tourist things like Bath and Stonehenge, but one idea that really appeals to us is fossil hunting on the Jurassic Coast. My 7 year old son and 14 year old daughter are big into fossils.

But, it just seems way too far from London for a day trip, and even if we were to cut our London trip shorter and stay a night or two in the area, it seems there's no good way to get up to Edinburgh that wouldn't take forever.

I guess I have a couple of questions: One, is the fossil hunting really good? Is it worth the detour during a first-time trip? And second, does it even make sense at all to try to wedge this side trip into our overall vacation, as it's currently structured?

And, as a side note: Is this area less crowded with tourists than some others? (I know, I know, we are tourists too! But, if we're not going to be in London, we'd prefer not to be wall-to-wall with other people, so we are very open to more off-the-beaten-path options.)

Posted by
308 posts

My friends went there last year and they had a blast! They found A LOT of ammonites. If you are interested in fossil hunting it would be worth the trip I think. Of course, I'm a geologist so I'm definitely biased.

Posted by
2191 posts

The Jurassic coast (Dorset county) is really too far for you to day trip from London. It is also not on the railway so a hire car would be almost essential. As well as fossil hunting, the area has lovely beaches plus garners at Abbotsbury and Minterne as well as the Cerne Abbas Giant. Charmouth is one of the best places to go fossil hunting.

It would have been better if you had left London and made more of a trip of it in the south west regions. That way, you could easily have thrown in Stonehenge and Bath. (Bath is an easy day trip by train from London).

If going to Edinburgh, I would certainly stop off foe one night at York.

I take it that you are aware that rail fares are much cheaper when pre-booked? Turn up and go for long trips is expensive.

Posted by
424 posts

Agree with the above, leave the Jurassic Coast for your next trip. Seven days in London will go by in a flash and there is so much to do there. There are lots of easy day trips from London - have a look at London Walks and their day trips out of London to get some ideas.
Also agree with James, York is on the way to Edinburgh by train and would be a terrific stop off. Really needs a few days but you can get a flavour - went there last year and loved it, the Railway Museum terrific and unexpectedly engrossing.
The point made about buying train tickets in advance - VERY IMPORTANT - sorry to shout if you are already aware. Especially important for York/Edinburgh tickets, probably not so much for day tickets for train rides from London.


Posted by
90 posts

Yes, I did just see recently on the forums that we should pre-book train tickets. At first I was going to do a rail pass, but folks were saying pre-booking was better. I just have to get our itinerary down before I can do that! Thanks, though, for mentioning it. Better safe than sorry!

I'm a bit sad we will have to leave off fossil hunting, but it does sound as if the Southwest of England does merit a chunk of time in and of itself, and we will just have to return.

Posted by
774 posts

I think the Jurassic Coast would be a great place to visit, but you are pressed for time and it is the wrong direction if you are them headed to Edinburgh.

If you are looking for another rural option, I would try Hadrian's wall as you head north. You could take the train to Haltwhistle, stay there for a night (or two). My kids love Roman stuff. You could hike along the wall any distance you want.