Monday, 21 March 2011


And so we enter Dorset. Lyme Regis had its international moment of fame in 1981 with the release of The French Lieutenants’s Woman, the film of the John Fowles novel written in 1969. The most enduring image of the town for film buffs worldwide is surely the sight of a black-clad Meryl Streep standing on the end of the Cobb waiting in vain for the return of her lover, the French Lieutenant of the title. Another location featured in the film was the area known as The Undercliff, an area of dense vegetation borne out of the land erosion that is an ever-present risk along this coast. Another literary giant which featured the town was Persuasion by Jane Austen, who visited the town several times. One of the characters, Louisa Musgrove, was injured in a fall from the Cobb. One can easily imagine accidents happening here; there is something slightly unnerving about standing on the Cobb during stormy weather.

Lyme Regis is an attractive small resort, with a lovely little promenade lined with elegant Georgian buildings, and a nice golden beach backed by restaurants and pubs. This stretch of the British coast is commonly known as The Jurassic Coast due to the large incidence of fossils in the rocks. Fossil-hunting is big business in Lyme Regis, with shops selling fossils as souvenirs, and fossil-hunting walks such as those organised by the eminent palaeontologist Dr Colin Dawes, who can often be seen in the town’s watering holes dressed like a real-life Indiana Jones. There is even a fossil festival every year. For other events, see here.

Postscript: With great sadness I have to report that since this post was published Dr. Dawes has died. He died of a heart attack in September 2011 while exploring the Undercliff. My husband and I once got talking to Dr. Dawes in a Lyme Regis pub, and we always fondly remember how he persuaded us to buy a copy of a book he had produced about fossils - he lived just across the road from the pub and rushed over to get us a copy. Still,at least he died doing what he loved.

Webcam view of the town.

Map of the area.

File:Lyme Regis - panoramio.jpg
Photo by Bob&Anne Powell, via Wikimedia Commons

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