Ideal location to do your own thing
Woodberry Down nestles in the river Lym valley where Devon meets Dorset. We have immediate access to the Coastal Path and a network of country paths from which to view some of the finest unspoilt and interesting parts of West Dorset.
This rural area is not only very beautiful (74% of west Dorset is defined as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) - but also of international importance and immense educational value. The centre's rural, coastal location and the close proximity of textbook sites such as Chesil Beach make it ideal for studies in Geography, Biology, Geology, and Ecology. This stretch of Dorset's coast was recently made England's first natural World Heritage Site. Its outstanding geology represents 185 million years of earth history in just 95 miles.
Walk to Charmouth, call at the Heritage Coast Centre to see their informative displays on local geology and marine life. Then return along the beach at low tide, under the Spittles and Black Venn landslip, and where the fastest moving mud slide in Europe has been lashed by high tide, look for ammonites, belemnites and even bones from ichthyosaurs, extinct marine reptiles. Nearly two hundred years ago Mary Anning found a twenty one foot long Ichthyosaurus here. Before heading for home you may like to explore numerous rock pools on Broad Ledge. How many forms of life can you see in them?
However the path you are most likely to use will be the old packhorse route along the river Lym, past the old woollen mills to the old part of Lyme with its maze of narrow streets. Here you have a choice of visiting
- The Cobb, picturesque harbour, made famous in the film 'The French Lieutenant's Woman'.
- Dinosaurland Museum
- Fossil shops – see what to look for on the beach
- Lyme's Marine Theatre
- Marine Aquarium with sea creatures and artifacts
- Monmouth Beach – landing place of ill-fated rebellion 1685
- Philpot Museum for local history and geology
- Pitch and putt golf course
- Regent cinema
- Town mill restored with exhibition gallery
- Undercliff nature reserve formed by landslip of 1839
In Tudor times, the Cobb, then an island, was a significant naval and commercial sea port. Ships were built here; some, manned with local sailors, joined Drake to defeat the Amada. Lyme merchant ships exported local wool and lace all over the world. During the Civil war in 1644 the Cobb enabled the besieged Lyme Regis citizens to be reinforced from the sea at night so they could defend the town against the besieging Royalist army. By the eighteenth century a causeway, built from the mainland to the Cobb, caused the harbour to silt up, thus preventing ocean going vessels from entering. This caused the demise of dependent industries.
Nil desperandum. Perhaps because of its uniquely temperate climate, Lyme was one of the earliest towns to attract visitors. It became popular with writers and artists. Daniel Defoe, who took part in Monmouth’s rebellion, settled here, as did Jane Austen for a time, whilst writing ‘Persuasion’. Turner and Whistler found inspiration from surrounding beauty. Beatrix Potter drew illustrations of Lyme for ‘The Tale of Little Pig Robinson’.