The Lyme Bay Coast of South West England: Where the Countie

The Lyme Bay coastal region traverses the glorious counties of Dorset and Devon in south west England. It is an area of breathtaking scenery, history and heritage and is one of the most beautiful and scenically diverse regions of England.

Lyme Bay is easily accessible by road or rail - depending on the time of year and day of travel it will take about three hours from London to reach this part of the English coast. There is a regular rail service from London Waterloo to Axminster in East Devon - Axminster is about six miles from Lyme Regis, a small seaside town at the heart of the region.

The Lyme Bay area is renowned for its fossil hunting, hence it is also known as The Jurassic Coast - a coastline that records 185 million years of the earth's history. UNESCO declared this stretch of coastline to be England's first natural World Heritage Site in 2001 in recognition of the geological 'walk through time' spanning the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Earth's history. There are organised fossil hunting tours at a number of points along the coastline - and these prove very popular with adults and children alike.

There are so many things to see and do here on the Lyme Bay coast, so here are a couple of suggestions for things to do if you take a holiday in the area:

So what's under the city of Exeter?
Exeter, a cathedral city in East Devon is well worth a visit for a shopping trip or to enjoy a meal at one of the wide variety of restaurants in the city centre or on its riverside development. However, there is another side to Exeter or should that be another level? Under the city's streets there is a network of medieval passageways dating from the 14th century. These medieval passageways under Exeter High Street are a unique ancient monument. The passageways were built to house the pipes that brought fresh water from natural springs in fields lying outside the city walls, into the heart of the city. The pipes sometimes sprang leaks and repairs to buried pipes could only be carried out by digging them up as we do today. To avoid this disruption the passages were vaulted and it is down some of these vaulted passageways that visitors can take guided tours.

Visitors to this underground attraction pass through an exhibition and video presentation before their guided tour. However, if you suffer from claustrophobia this probably isn't the experience for you! Under fives are not permitted on the tours. The underground passages are open all year and currently admission is •£4.90 for adults and •£3.40 for children (concessions and family rates are available). See the website for full details.

Enjoy subtropical gardens in Dorset by candlelight
On the outskirts of Abbotsbury village (one of the prettiest villages in Dorset) you will find Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens - magnificent Victorian walled gardens set in 20 acres of woodland valley. The gardens were established in 1765 by the first Countess of Ilchester as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle and have since been the site of many plant introductions to this country. The first camellias introduced to Britain in 1792 are now magnificent tree groves! The unique micro climate enables rare and exotic species from all over the world to thrive here. At the heart of the gardens is the Colonial Teahouse with its splendid veranda which overlooks the sunken garden. There is also a very well stocked plant centre, a gift shop, a children's play area and free car parking. A viewing point in the Garden, at the top of the Magnolia Walk, offers stunning views of West Dorset's Jurassic Coast.


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