Spiral coast

Paul Dobraszczyk

Spiral near Charmouth, Dorset Spiral near Charmouth, Dorset

Leaving the busy pub directly above the beach at Seatown, in south Dorset, I begin my 3-mile walk back along the coast to Charmouth. Just like the previous three days, the December sun in a cloudless, calm sky felt unseasonably warm; the shingle beach sloping steeply into the gently rolling waves at high tide. Behind, a low wall of  grey Eype clay cliffs visibly crumbled, leaving piles of debris at their bases. Approaching these unappealing mounds, and with keen eyes, you see them: the tell-tale spiral forms of ancient molluscs, the ammonites. Prize open some larger pieces of this mud and you find more, some in a miraculous state of preservation, others crumbling away before your eyes – lost forever.

Seatown shingle Seatown shingle

Cliffs flanking Seatown beach Eype clay cliffs flanking Seatown beach

This is the world of Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, where ancient sedimentary rock and mud, laid down when the dinosaurs ruled…

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