Highlight: Orcombe Point
This is where it starts. The rocks exposed at Orcombe Point embody the opening paragraphs of the Earth-story contained within this World Heritage Site. Stretching out in cliffs to the east, along 95 miles of coast, are the layers of geology that record the rest of the tale, spanning 185 million years of time. But here, on the mouth of the River Exe, is where it all begins. The Geoneedle monument found here marks the official start (or end if you prefer) of the World Heritage Site.
How to Get There
Orcombe Point is best accessed from the town of Exmouth. There are regular bus services to Exmouth from Exeter, Sidmouth and Budleigh Salterton, and Exmouth railway station is a 25 minute journey from Exeter, which provides connections to London and the rest of the UK.
By road Exmouth is reached via the A376 which runs south from Exeter and the M5.
Where to Stay
Things to Do
A Jurassic Coast walk is best started or completed at Orcombe Point’s Geoneedle, the officially designated western-most point of the World Heritage Site. From here, the South West Coast Path leads to Budleigh Salterton, Ladram Bay, and onwards to Sidmouth.
Orcombe Point can be viewed in glorious front-on detail from the sea, by booking a Jurassic Coast Cruise with Exmouth-based Stuart Line Cruises.
Car Parking and Facilities
Accessible parking is available near the Geoneedle at Orcombe Point. See East Devon District Council’s website for more information.
How Was Orcombe Point Formed?
Orcombe Point is at the western end of the Jurassic Coast. The layers of red mudstone and sandstone that make up the cliffs here were laid down in a desert some 250 million years ago, at the start of a time period known as the Triassic. They formed not long after the most devastating mass extinction event known, when 95% of all species were wiped out.
The rocks at Orcombe Point contain no fossils, echoing how the environment of the Early Triassic was reduced almost to a blank canvass. As Earth’s ecosystems began to slowly recover, time and evolution painted a new masterwork of prehistoric life where reptiles and dinosaurs ruled and marine habitats flourished. This is the story of the Jurassic Coast, and every story starts somewhere.