The Jurassic Coast ( " Jurassic Coast" ) is a section along the southern English Channel coast. From Orcombe Point in Exmouth, Devon in the west, to Old Harry Rocks at Swanage in the Isle of Purbeck in the east, extends to a length of about 150 km, a coastline, the first natural landscape in 2001 England has been listed by UNESCO as a World heritage Site. In addition to the impressive rock formations and coastal Jurassic Coast is best known as the fossil site. Large parts are as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( " Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty " ) protected.
The natural phenomena along the coast, especially the local rock formations show a continuous sequence of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous resulting in the geological structures and leave about 185 million years of Earth's history will become apparent. The rock layers along the Jurassic Coast are slightly inclined to the east. Because of this, the oldest part of the coast is in the western area, the cliffs towards the east consist of progressively younger rocks.
The oldest rocks in East Devon coast form the red sandstone cliffs, which dates back to the Triassic period before 251-200 million years ago. At that time the area was a desert landscape. Further east, join in Dorset Jurassic formations of clay and limestone, which emerged after the flooding of the desert. Towards the end of the Jurassic period 145 million years ago, the sea level fell and it incurred swamps and lagoons. 100 million years ago is again formed a large tropical sea in this area. From the Cretaceous period, until about 65 million years ago, come the recent formations in the east of the Jurassic Coast.
In addition to the rocky cliffs, the landscape still a number of different coastal features on such as small bays ( Lulworth Cove ), beaches and dunes ( Chesil Beach ) or the Isle of Portland, an island in the English Channel near Weymouth.
Due to the scenic beauty of the Jurassic Coast is a preferred tourist destination. Also popular are hikes along the South West Coast Path, a long-distance route following the coast. Attractions in this way are geological features such as the Fossil Forest at Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door rock bridge and various viewpoints. In the small towns and villages, there are museums and visitor centers. As special attractions are advertised in Beer and the Isle of Portland, the fossils in the Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre and the Quarry Caves. A central visitor center (World Heritage Coast Centre ) is to be built by the year 2011 in Weymouth.
Various visitor centers and museums offer information especially with a local focus. The following history and heritage museums are advertised by the "World Heritage Site Management":
- Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre
- Chesil Beach Centre
- Dorset County Museum, Dorchester
- Dorset Wildlife Trust Fine Foundation Marine Centre
- Durlston Country Park
- Fair Lynch Museum, Budleigh Salterton
- Fine Foundation Centre, Beer
- Lulworth Cove Heritage Centre
- Philpot Museum, Lyme Regis
- Portland Bill Visitor Centre
- Portland Museum
- Quarry Caves, Beer
- Sidmouth Museum
- Studland Bay Visitor Centre, Knoll Beach
- Swanage Heritage Centre
→ See also list of places on the Jurassic Coast
The so-called Gateway Towns offer ideal opportunities to get to the Jurassic Coast. In these places, there are also businesses and facilities that serve the management and conservation of the World Heritage. The following cities and towns are considered Gateway Towns:
- Budleigh Salterton
- Lyme Regis
- Isle of Portland