Dorset beach tops Lonely Planet’s list of world’s best winter visits

Fossil hunters on Charmouth beach
Image caption,Charmouth is popular with amateur fossil hunters

A beach on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast has topped a list of the world’s best to visit in winter.

Charmouth, which is popular with fossil hunters, is listed number one out of nine beaches recommended by travel guide publisher Lonely Planet.

Second is Reynisfjara Beach in Vik, Iceland, followed by Plage de la Conche des Baleines, on Île de Ré in France.

Geologist Saskia Elliot said: “It’s one of my favourite beaches in Dorset so I’m glad it’s been recognised.”

Ms Elliot, a geological environmental consultant from Broadstone, said: “You’ve got these amazing cliffs that constantly are weathering down with mini landslides – or sometimes quite big landslides – and they bring down fossils, so anyone with beady eyes can pick up anything from ammonites to belemnites or occasionally, if you are really lucky, an ichthyosaur.”

Reynisfjara Beach
Image caption,Reynisfjara Beach on Iceland’s South Shore features in the list of cold-weather beaches

Charmouth has been the site of a number of significant discoveries of fossilised creatures previously unknown to science but it has also seen numerous rescues of people getting stuck in mud and being cut off by the tide.

In 2017, local fossil hunters Lizzie Hingley and Paul Turner found a 2m-long fossilised crocodile-like creature which scientists later confirmed as a new genus.

Ms Hingley said Charmouth offered “everything a curious person would need to spend a good few hours walking in stunning scenery searching the foreshore”.

She said: “Fossils are often uncovered in rough weather which makes the beach come to life over the winter months.”

Lonely Planet’s list of “the world’s best beaches to visit in winter” says: “While it may not be the warmest beach to visit in winter, fossil finders will be happy to forget about taking a dip and stay on shore.”

But it adds: “Remember to keep your fossicking to the stones and rocks on the foreshore – no digging into the cliff face.”

The list also included beaches in Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, USA, Canada and South Korea.

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