Visiting the Centre

What are your opening times?

You can check our up to date opening times here.

Our Summer opening times are 10:30am-4:30pm (last entry 4:15pm) 7 days a week.

Our Winter opening times are 10:30am-4:00pm (last entry 3:45pm) Friday-Monday. We are open every day except Tuesdays in March

How much is admission to the Centre?

The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre is free to enter throughout the year. As a small, independent, educational charity we rely on donations to keep our Centre free for all.

How long does it take to look around the Centre?

Our Centre is small but full of things to see. A quick look around can take 10 minutes but visitors looking at all our displays can take an hour.

Are dogs allowed in the Centre?

Dogs are not allowed in the Centre, except for service animals.

Can children enter the Centre alone?

Children must be accompanied by adults when visiting the Centre.

Is food or drink allowed in the Centre?

Food and drink are not allowed around our Centre. There are picnic benches on the grassy areas around the Centre and in front of the beach café below us.

Are there toilets in the Centre?

There are no public toilets in the Centre. Public toilets owned and maintained by Dorset Council can be found behind our building. These are open from 9am until 8pm in the Summer, 9am until 6pm in the Winter, disabled toilets are open 24 hours a day.

Baby change facilities are in the women’s toilets.

How can I support the Centre?

If you are interested in supporting our charity then consider joining us on a fossil hunting walk, buying from our shop or making a donation.

If you are local to the area and wish to become a volunteer then you can find details here, or to become a friend here,  for more information contact us or visit and speak to one of our managers.

 

Planning Your Trip

Where are the nearest train stations/bus stops?

The nearest train station is Axminster Station, 6 miles away. The nearest bus stop is a 10 minute walk away at St. Andrew’s Church, Charmouth, on the X51 and X53 Jurassic Coaster routes. The train station is serviced by the X51 AND X53. 

What accommodation is there around Charmouth?

For places to stay around Charmouth please check here.

Is there parking nearby?

There are several carparks on the beachfront at Charmouth and a smaller carpark off of Lower Sea Lane at St Andrew Drive, a 10 minute walk from us and the beach.

We suggest bringing cash for parking, as the signal can be poor for using parking apps or card payments. The Centre and local shops are unable to provide change for parking.

Caravans, campervans and minibuses are not permitted in the council car park adjacent to the beach. Buses are not permitted to any of the three car parks at the seafront and must park at St Andrew’s Drive, a 10 minute walk away. This applies to school/large group buses too. Please allow time to walk from St Andrew’s to us if you are booked in for an event with the Centre. 

Where can we get food or drink?

There are two beach cafés on the sea front, offering a takeaway service. There are other places to eat for indoor dining or to grab on the go including pubs, cafés and convenience stores along The Street, Charmouth, a 10 minute walk from the Centre.

Through November-February the Centre does sell hot drinks and biscuits for take away only.

Please note many establishments in the village are seasonal and may not open between November-February. The larger town of Lyme Regis is 2 miles away by car. 

 

Walks and Fossil Hunting

What is the best time to go fossil hunting?

We advise going fossil hunting on a falling tide. Two hours before the low tide and staying out up to one hour after the low tide is our safe window.

Tide times for the next several days can be found here and daily tide times are posted on our twitter/X feed.

Where on the beach is best to go fossil hunting?

The best places will be along the tideline in the shingle, but the best specific spots change with each tide.

Never go close to the cliffs as these are prone to cliff falls and loose rocks tumbling down, or onto mudslips as you may get stuck, even if they appear dry. Coastguards are called out multiple times a year to rescue people and attend injuries on our beaches. As a World Heritage Site, it is illegal to dig for fossils in the cliffs and rock ledges.

Do I need to book a fossil hunting walk in advance?

Yes, our fossil hunting walks can be booked in advance here.

Please note that in the school holidays these can book up quickly. Once walks are fully booked we are unable to take any extra people. 

I haven’t received a confirmation email.

Emails are automatically sent to you upon booking, including one that has an introductory video to watch before joining us and details on where to meet. These can sometimes be filtered into junk inboxes.

There doesn’t appear to be a walk running on the day I want to book?

We sadly cannot run fossil hunting walks every day, this may be due to unsuitable low tide times, or running a school event, etc.

As a small team we are limited in how far in advance we can schedule walks, we post on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter/X when we release new walks for booking.

If the tides are suitable and we are not running a walk you can go fossil hunting for yourselves. Our wardens are happy to offer advice or identify fossils when we are open and a video and downloadable PDF guide are available to purchase on our shop to help.

Do we keep the fossils found on the beach/on a walk?

Anything you find on the beach, either with us or on your own, is yours to keep regardless of what it is so long as it is loose on the beach and not from the cliff or ledges.

Fossils that are considered ‘scientifically important’ are still yours to keep but we do ask that you record them with us.

How much do your guided fossil walks cost?

Our fossil walks are £14 per adult, £8 per child.

What is the age of a child ticket?

Child tickets cover 0-17 years old.

Are the walks suitable for young children?

We regularly have young children on our walks finding their own fossils. Our walks do involve walking over rough terrain across the beach, however, so if you are unsure about then please contact us in advance. Pushchairs are not suitable for Charmouth beach. 

What is the group size of your public walks? 

The maximum number of participants we generally take out during the busy school holidays can be up to 60-70 people. Walk numbers will depend on staff available, which is why we schedule them only a couple of months in advance. 

The off peak season walks are generally quieter with 20-30 people attending. 

If you feel a large group walk is not for you, contact us as we have some but limited availability for private walks in the off peak season only. Or we can provide a list of private guides in the area who walk all year around. 

Can we cancel a walk?

Tickets purchased with us are non-refundable outside of exceptional circumstances. If you do have an issue attending your booked walk then please contact us as soon as possible.  

The weather isn’t looking good for the date of my walk, will you cancel it?

We only cancel our walks when it is unsafe to go out on the beach, i.e. strong winds or lightning. We otherwise go out in all weather conditions, including heavy rain, and do recommend clothing appropriate to the weather and the beach.

If we do cancel a walk you are booked onto then we will make every effort to contact you via the details you have provided and arrange a full refund. Tickets are non refundable if you decide not to come and the walk is still going ahead. 

Are dogs allowed on your fossil hunting walks?

We do allow dogs on our walks, but we do insist that for the comfort of other guests, staff and volunteers that they are kept on a short lead at all times.

For information about dogs on the beach in general, you can contact the Charmouth Parish Council, or speak to one of their beach superintendents located in the office below us.  

I’m not sure what to look for or what I’ve found?

Our wardens are happy to offer any advice you need or identify your finds. If you aren’t in the area then contact us and we can identify things via email or other our social media accounts.

We do have a ‘what to look for on the beach’ display and sell a £1 fossil identification guide for our beach. Consider booking onto of our walks to go out with our wardens to have the best opportunity of finding fossils.

Can hammers be used on the beach?

Hammers can be used on the beaches at Charmouth, but only on loose rocks and never on the cliffs or ledges. A geological hammer is the safest to use, and they split rocks much better than alternatives.

Do I need to bring my own tools on a walk?

You do not need to bring any tools onto the walk, but a bag may be useful to store your finds. A warden will have a geological hammer with them to split rocks but the majority of our fossils are already loose on the beach. We recommend dressing for the weather and in clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, as well as appropriate footwear, such as walking boots. During the Summer it is sensible to bring water with you, we will be a long way from the cafés and there isn’t any shelter on the beach.

Do you rent out geological hammers?

The Centre does not rent hammers out, but they are available for purchase individually or in our fossil hunting kits both online and in our gift shop. The fossil shop below us no longer rent hammers.