The attractive seaside village of Charmouth lies in the heart of Jurassic Coast fossil hunting country. The large shingle beach and the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre on the seafront are a must-visit for those interested in fossils and local natural history. The Heritage Coast Centre runs regular fossil hunting walks which are extremely popular.

Charmouth is also a great destination for walking, and there are many attractive routes running both inland to the pretty Dorset and East Devon countryside, and along the South West Coast Path. Lyme Regis is about two miles to the west, while the attractive seaside town of West Bay is a longer walk further east.

  • Fossil Hunting

How to Get There

The Jurassic Coaster bus service runs through Charmouth. The nearest railway station is at Axminster, seven miles to the north-west.

There is no direct bus service to Axminster, but it is possible to travel via Lyme Regis. By road, Charmouth is signposted from the A35.

Charmouth Beach with fossils
Ammonite fossil on Charmouth Beach.

Car Parking & Facilities

There are three car parks within a short walk to  the beach at Charmouth. See Parkopedia for charges.

Public toilets are available near the beach, behind the Heritage Centre.

There is a disabled toilet at Charmouth, and the promenade along the seafront is suitable for wheelchairs. There is access to a grassy picnic area with benches across a wooden bridge over the River Char.

Charmouth Promenade - Alison Day
The promenade at Charmouth Beach with Black Ven in the distance. © Alison Day via Flickr.

Beach Information & Dogs

Charmouth Beach is slightly shelving and is made up of pebbles and sand. Charmouth is famous, along with neighbouring Lyme Regis, for its fossils.

If looking for fossils, remember to always follow the Fossil Collecting Code by collecting from loose material on the beach, and not digging in the cliffs. See our Fossil Collecting page for more on how to safely and successfully hunt for fossils.

Charmouth Beach is often used for bathing, depending on weather conditions. When the red flag is showing it means the water is not suitable for inflatables.

There is a risk of mudslides, being cut off by tides, and falling rocks at the beach here. Please follow our safety information and check tide times prior to heading out.

There are no dogs allowed on Charmouth’s West Beach (west to the end of the promenade) from 1 May – 30 Sept inclusive. Past the end of the promenade going towards Lyme, there are no restrictions.

Charmouth Beach and Cliffs - Alison Day
Charmouth Beach. © Alison Day via Flickr.

Where to Stay

We recommend Newlands Holiday Park, a lovely family-run holiday park (cabin pictured right) located a short distance from Charmouth beach.

You can also book a cottage in the area with holidaycottages.co.uk.

Newlands Holiday Park
Cabin at Newlands Holiday Park, Charmouth.

Things to Do

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Iron pyrites ammonites from Charmouth.

Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre

Visit the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre to see their superb displays of local fossil finds, and then join a fossil hunting walk to discover your own. Entry is free, and the centre has interactive hands-on displays and information on fossils, fossil hunting and local coastal and marine wildlife.

There is a video microscope that you can use to examine your finds, and you will always find a helpful warden or volunteer who can help identify your fossils for you.

The centre is currently playing host to an enormous ichthyosaur fossil as seen on the BBC TV programme Attenborough and the Sea Dragon.

Charmouth Heritage centre

Stonebarrow

Stonebarrow is a large area of countryside located just to the east of Charmouth. Owned and managed by the National Trust, it is home to superb year-round walking and makes a brilliant picnic spot.

It also contains the fascinating “lost village” of Stanton St Gabriel. The uphill coast path walk from Charmouth Beach is currently diverted, so you can either drive or walk up Stonebarrow Lane to the hilltop carpark.

The majestic walking trails of Stonebarrow, with Golden Cap in the background. © Pengannel via Flickr.

Need to Know: Charmouth’s Iron Age History

Charmouth can trace its history back to the Iron Age, when the Celts founded a settlement, and evidence of hill forts can still be seen in the area. Many of the buildings that remain in the village today date from the 18th and 19th centuries, giving the sense of a place where time has stood still.

The thatched cottage roofs of Charmouth village. © charmouth.org