image of a pebbled beach, part of our fossil hunting tips
Holiday Blog

Fossil Hunting tips. The best beaches to find real dinosaur fossils

The south west is one of our favourite places to go on holiday. It has such a wide variety of activities on offer.

We particularly like visiting its gorgeous pebble beaches along the south coast of Devon and Dorset.

Our children love trying to find fossils. Its one of our favourite things to do. Its not always easy, but the Jurassic coastline is one of the best places on the UK for fossil hunting.

We’ve put together some useful fossil hunting tips and hints, to help you and your family have a great day out!


Image of a fossil on a beach

UK Fossil hunting hints. Get the most out of your day on the beach

Choose a beach

Being an island nation the UK has a huge coastline. In fact, the total length is in excess of 8,000 miles.

This creates the perfect environment for fossil hunting, especially on the many beaches.

The Uk is not really famed for its glorious sandy beaches like in some warmer climates and to be honest, sand isn’t really the ideal place to find fossils. Nevertheless, the UK has some stunning pebbled beaches, especially along the south coast. The perfect place to look for old dinosaurs and creatures that once roamed the earth. 

The Jurassic coast is named as such because of its abundance of fossils. The cliff faces and pebbled beaches are just the place to head to. Stretching from the southern coastline of Cornwall, Devon, and Dorset, there are many beaches to choose from.

Here’s our list of the best beaches around the UK for fossil hunting.

  • Lyme Regis
  • Seaton
  • Bude
  • Charmouth
  • Dunraven Bay
  • Porthgain
  • Helmsdale

Understand the rules and laws

This maybe something that you havent considered. Afterall fossil hunting is supposed to be a low cost and fun day out for all the family.

In general fossil hunting in the UK is considered acceptable and fine. There are certain protected wildlife areas where fossil hunting is prohibited, this is usually to help protect the environment. It would be best to check the local area for signs prohibiting fossil hunting.

If you do find fossils, especially in cliff and rock faces, it is essential to be mindful of causing damage to the surrounding area. Trying to remove a large fossil without the correct equipment could result in damage from falling rocks.

In some areas, the fossils could be on land belonging to somebody. Legally the fossils will belong to the landowner, so it is best to find out beforehand.

image of a pebbled beach, part of our fossil hunting tips
  • Take a fossil hunting kit

To make the experience a little more exciting, especially for children, it is a great idea to make a fossil hunting kit.

It is possible to find ready-made kits online, however, it can be relatively inexpensive to create your own. It is a good idea to keep your fossil hunting kit inside a small box or bag. 

  • Safety goggles
  • Small rock hammer
  • Chisel
  • Marker pen and notebook
  • Clear zip lock bags

Fossils are often found inside rocks and pebbles. Care should be taken when trying to break into and split rocks, especially around young children.

Safety first

Heading to the beach is always a great day out. If you’re by yourself, in a small group of friends, or with the family, a day fossil hunting on any of the beaches around the UK makes for a wonderful experience.

Care should be taken around the coast. It can be all too tempting to head around unknown coastlines and wander beneath unfamiliar cliffs. 

Coastal tides can change very quickly, cutting you off from safety. Likewise, some cliffs around the coasts can suffer from rock falls, especially if recent weather has been poor. 

Always check tide times and make sure you adhere to any safety signs.

Be patient

Probably our most hated fossil-hunting tip, especially with children, is to be patient Fossils can often turn up when least expected, but they can also take hours to find just one; which can seem disappointing.

Setting expectations early can also help. It is highly unlikely you’ll discover a previously unidentified dinosaur and many fossils can be small.  Nevertheless, those that are patient and know how and where to look, often have the most success.

Fossil hunting tips - what could you find?

Hunting around the UKs beaches may uncover the following types of fossils;

  • Pyrite fossils
  • Belemnites fossils
  • Ichthyosaur fossils
  • Fossil sea shell
  • Fossil sea urchin

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