Tuesday, May 1st. We left Chawton and the bad weather behind and drove to the Dorset coast in search of fossils, views, and another peek at Jane Austen.
Ammonites, Charmouth Beach
Charmouth Beach is flanked by eroded cliffs that shed fossils. The Coast Heritage Center at Charmouth had excellent displays about the geology and the fossils to be found in the cliffs.
We had timed our visit to coincide with low tide. We walked both the east and west beaches.
With a tip from a local collector, I learned to spot the cylinders of belemnites, and spirals of pyritized ammonites.
I kept just a few tiny bits for my collection, and otherwise enjoyed a beautiful beach day.
In nearby Lyme Regis, we checked into a B&B on the hill above town, then walked down the path to the seafront. There was a great view over the coastline – where we had been in Charmouth, and where we wanted to go on the Cobb.
The Cobb is the local name for the curved manmade breakwater around the harbor.
The walk along the Cobb has been immortalized by Jane Austen in her novel Persuasion. Teenager Louisa Musgrave flirted with Captain Wentworth by having him jump her down from the steps on the Cobb – could have been these steps,
or these steps.
The pavement at the bottom was equally hard when she jumped too soon, landed on her head, and was taken up lifeless. She recovered slowly with the help of a different sea captain, learned to appreciate poetry and curb her impulsiveness, and left Captain Wentworth free to marry our heroine Anne by the end of the story. Jane Austen lived here in Lyme Regis for a time, and must have walked along the Cobb, maybe even seen a boisterous teen be jumped down the steps.
We walked along the Cobb, on the lower, wind shielded side, to the end. I went up the steps to see the view, but the wind and sea spray made staying on the high path feel unsafe.
From the far end of the lower Cobb we looked back across the harbor to the town and to Charmouth beach where we had been earlier today.
After retracing our steps, we walked around the shops and gardens near the Cobb, including the rather run down Jane Austen tribute garden.
Later, we went to the lovely Harbour Inn for a delicious early birthday dinner for Dan. I had the gurnard, a local fish, and he had the vegetarian special.
As we walked back up the hill after dinner, we took in the views again, punctuated by silhouettes of the charming ammonite light posts.
In the morning we set off for Fowey on the southern coast of Cornwall, where we had reserved a cottage for a four day stay.