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Peaceful, Fossil Hunters

Dorset has a very famous coastline, that is known as the Jurassic Coast, and there are many popular seaside towns and villages.  Favourite villages include West Lulworth, with its famous horseshoe-shaped cove, however, for something that is off the tourist radar there is the charming hamlet of Seatown in the parish of Chideock.

Situated west of West Bay and Bridport and south of Charmouth, Seatown is accessed by turning off the A35 at Chideock and following the road signs for Seatown.  Down along a narrow hedged lane, then as you turn a corner on your way down Sea Hill Lane towards the sea, suddenly before you, beyond a car park is the beach and the sea beyond.

Seatown
Photo: Kevupnorth at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Seatown is a small hamlet of just a few houses and a pub.  There is also a holiday park situated just before you reach Seatown.

Previously, there was a long history of fishing from Seatown, in 1567 there were 19 seahouses recorded there, and before 1700 there would have been medieval strip lynchets and mixed farming smallholdings, many would have been worked by the fishing families, especially when the fishermen couldn’t put to sea to produce food. During the 18th century these were merged to create larger farms and now the farmland is part of much bigger farms and most of the coastland is managed by the National Trust. Seatown remained an important fishing village until as recently as 150 years ago.  It is also said that Seatown was a popular location for smugglers to bring contraband ashore by rowing boat. Even today the pub, the Anchor Inn is known for its large stock of rums, spirits and cocktails.

The Anchor Inn overlooks the beach and as well as being in a fantastic location; due to the high quality mostly locally caught fish dishes is a destination in its own right.  The local houses are mainly set behind the pub or on Sea Hill Lane.

Geographically, Seatown sits at just above sea level very close to Golden Cap, the highest cliff on the south coast of England. It is a place to find fossils and is the only place where you can view Belemnite Marl at beach level.  Whichever way you turn at the beach, this is fossil hunting paradise; fossils are easily from the late Jurassic and early Cretaceous periods.  The availability of Jurassic rocks, though, is what attracts fossil enthusiasts to this particular beach.  To the west side of the beach, it is possible to view a 34M Green Ammonite Mudstone, containing an abundance of ammonites, belemnites, bivalves and marine reptile skeletons.  You can easily find small ammonites in the shingle and fossils in fallen rocks.

The beach comprises small size shingle with rocks and pebbles at the base of the cliffs to either side of the beach at Seatown which is the mouth of the River Winniford.

The area is both an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a World Heritage Site of Special Scientific Interest.  The views from Golden Cap are far-reaching and spectacular, looking down on one side over Seatown, where the views out to sea and to and along the cliffs are lovely.  Seatown offers ancient history and peace and quiet in clean and beautiful surroundings.

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