At West Bay, crumbling golden cliffs of sand reveal falling sea levels from some 175 million years ago. Here the mighty Chesil Beach – 18 miles long, born from landslides that eroded after the last ice age around 20,000 years ago – finds its western end.
In summer the shingle hosts the sound of laughter and the smell of BBQs. When winter storms blow in to thunder along these shores the cliffs and beaches shift and change. Rocks fall, reminding us that this natural place hides dangers as well as pleasures.
At nearby Bridport Museum, fossil brittle stars, ammonites and other sea creatures on display offer a vivid glimpse of the long lost sea now seen preserved in rock at West Bay.
How to Get There
The Jurassic Coaster bus service runs through Bridport and West Bay. The nearest railway stations are at Axminster to the west and Dorchester to the east. By road, Bridport and West Bay are signposted from the A35.
Where to Stay
We recommend staying at the fabulous Highlands End Holiday Park or Graston Copse Holiday Park. You can also book a cottage with Dream Cottages, Dorset Coastal Cottages or holidaycottages.co.uk. For a comprehensive list of local accommodation options, visit our Where to Stay page.
Things to Do
West Bay Seafront
Once known as Bridport Harbour, West Bay lies at the mouth of the River Brit. The seafront has two piers and is lined with old cottages, characterful kiosks and an early 19th-centuary customs house. Until the mid-19th century, the main trade was exporting Bridport’s ropes and nets.
The golden strata of nearby East Cliff are one of the most distinctive features of the Jurassic Coast, and the area is very popular with walkers. East Beach has been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and forms one end of Chesil Beach, which extends 18 miles south east to the Isle of Portland. The cliffs here are very unstable, so it’s important to keep well clear of the cliff edges and bases.
West Bay Discovery Centre
West Bay Discovery Centre tells the story of West Bay past and present featuring information, static and interactive displays, oral history and walking trails, with something of interest for all ages. The centre is housed in the former Methodist Chapel just to the rear of the Bridport Arms Car Park, close to the harbour and beach. Admission is free although donations are welcome.
Walking at West Bay
The area around West Bay is exceptional for walks, both along the South West Coast Path and venturing inland. For some walking inspiration, check out our downloadable walking routes, or pick up an OS Map for the area from our shop.
Bridport is a small market town in West Dorset which lies around two miles inland from West Bay. The town has a world-renowned rope and net making industry – and hence some of the widest streets in the country. Lively street markets have been held there for over 400 years and still take place every Wednesday and Saturday.
Bridport Museum tells the story of the town, from Roman times through to the present day. The museum also features a Jurassic Coast Gallery, containing fossils found on the nearby stretch of coastline and the partial skeleton of a Pliosaur discovered at Golden Cap in 2004.
Need to Know: Broadchurch
In recent years, West Bay has become best known as the setting for the popular TV drama Broadchurch. The spectacular cliffs have become a familiar backdrop for the series, and it’s even possible to take a Broadchurch-themed guided walk.