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Kimmeridge Bay fossils and fossil collecting

Kimmeridge Bay and the adjacent coastline are in one of the most remote parts of the Dorset coast. There is a good road to the bay and car parking, but heading west or east from the bay can be dangerous. There are two methods of access: one is to park at the private car park at Kimmeridge Bay and walk east; and the other is to park at Chapman’s Pool and walk west. Both are a very long walks.
It is possible to walk the full length from Kimmeridge Bay to Chapman’s Pool, but this gives little time for collecting.

GRID REF: 50.60890°N, 2.12903°W

reptiles, ammonites, molluscs
Fossil Collecting at Kimmeridge Bay

If you are intending to use Kimmeridge Bay as the start of a trip to get to other nearby sites, this can be one of the most dangerous locations for fossil hunting. The tides have cut many people off in the past. Kimmeridge Bay and the adjacent cliffs and foreshore are rich in ammonites, reptiles and shells, but the best collecting sites to the east are a long walk if you are planning to look for fossils along the coastline from Kimmeridge Bay to Chapman’s Pool.
Where is it



Collecting at Kimmeridge Bay itself and to the east is prohibited unless prior permission is granted by the owners of the land, the Smedmore Estate (whose address is: Kimmeridge, Wareham, Dorset, BH20 5PD; Tel: 01929 480747). (To the west, access to the coast is restricted due to the army firing range, so is not discussed further in this guide.) However, the area has yielded more reptile remains than any other Kimmeridge Clay location in the UK. It also has some excellent ammonites, but the best are found between Kimmeridge Bay and Chapman’s Pool. However, as well as the collecting restrictions, this stretch of coastline is often too dangerous for most people to visit. There are still some lovely fossils to be seen within the bay, but hammering and collecting are not usually allowed.

Not for Children


Because locations accessible from Kimmeridge Bay can be very dangerous for collecting fossils due to tides and regular cliff falls, it is not recommended for children. The bay itself much safer.

Very Poor Access


The areas that you can visit from Kimmeridge Bay are some of the most challenging parts of the Dorset coastline. It is not recommended for families or parties, or during winter and spring months. These areas are remote locations. The bay itself is fairly easy to find and has its own car park, but if planning to walk from Kimmeridge Bay to the more productive beds, then this really is one of the hardest locations in Dorset to access. At some headlands along the coastline, the sea does not actually retreat fully, so you have to take your shoes and socks off to get past. This is not recommended.

Cliff, Foreshore


Fossils can be seen on the foreshore or within the cliff face. Collecting from the cliff face is dangerous and forbidden, but most fossils can be collected (with permission) from the foreshore, especially in areas of shingle.

No Hammers


This site is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline. Please follow the Fossil Code of Conduct. Access is permitted SSSI -


The cliffs are so dangerous that the slightest noise can cause a cliff fall, fossils are found washed up on the foreshore and so hammers are not required.


The areas accessible from Kimmeridge Bay are some of the most dangerous places to collect from along the Dorset coast. The tides always reach the base of the cliffs and can easily cut you off. They are also an extremely long walks around several headlands. Therefore, it is essential that you check and double check tide times. Be aware also of double tides. If you plan the whole walk from Kimmeridge Bay to Chapman’s Pool, you will have little time to collect and you must reach your destination before the tide starts to turn, as it comes in very quickly. Falling shale is a hazard at Kimmeridge Bay and hard hats should be worn at all times. Keep away from the base of the cliff. In addition, the beach at Kimmeridge Bay is very slippery.

Kimmeridge Bay
Tide Times



UK Tidal data is owned by Crown Copyright, and therefore sadly we are not allowed to display tide times without paying expensive annual contracts. However we sell them via our store, including FREE POSTAGE
Click here to buy a tide table

Last updated:  2008
last visited:  2001
Written by:  Alister and Alison Cruickshanks
Edited by:  Jon Trevelyan
Location Photos

Fossil Collecting
Your Reports

This site is part of the Jurassic World Heritage Coastline and is a SSSI. No hammers are allowed at this site and collecting is restricted within the bay itself and the coastline to Chapman’s pool (see above). The cliffs are extremely dangerous. However, fossils can be found washed up on the foreshore and so hammers are not required.

The first section of cliffs does not contain any fossils, but the eastern area of the bay is where the fossiliferous beds begin. The best fossils are found along the foreshore among the shingle. Most can be collected without any tools, which is fortunate, since hammers are not allowed.
The best area to collect from is at Freshwater Steps, but this is simply too dangerous and remote for most people to visit.

Oyster from Kimmeridge Bay
Oyster from Kimmeridge Bay

Geology Guide Jurassic, 150mya

Kimmeridge Bay is a fantastic place for geology, and the views are magnificent from the tops of the cliffs. It is also one of the most peaceful and quiet places alone the Dorset Coast. The section eastwards allows the most complete and thickest section through the Upper Kimmeridge Clay in Britain to be seen, and exposes the strata of the Bolonian Secondary Standard Stage in their entirety. Over 243m of Kimmeridge Clay is exposed along this section. The shale beds can be seen first at Hen Cliff. Walking further east, you will eventually reach Yellow Ledges, (marked by the yellow stone band) and then Burning Beach. Eventually, you will reach Freshwater Steps and Clavell’s Hard, with Rope Lake Head some distance away. Finally, Chapman’s Pool can be reached.

At Clavell’s Hard, there is a small waterfall descending over the Kimmeridge Oil Shale. You may notice a pinky colour, which is the result of a fire that burned for many years and is one of the most famous features of the area...[more]

Brachiopod from Kimmeridge Bay
Brachiopod from Kimmeridge Bay

Other Locations similar to Kimmeridge Bay

Other locations with Kimmeridge Clay are, Chapmans Pool, Kimmeridge Bay, Lothbeg, Portgower, Helmsdale, Balintore and Eathie, in Scotland, or Wyke Regis, Bowleaze Cove and Ringstead in Dorset.

Hammers are not allowed and should not be used. Hard hats should be worn at all times. If picking up loose fossils on the foreshore, bags and containers are suitable for transporting fossils. Take plenty of drink and food if planning the full walk.

More Guides

Stone Tumblers
Test Sieves for Microfossils

If you are interested in fossil collecting, then you may also be interested in a stone tumbler (Lapidary). You can polish stones and rocks from the beach which will look fantastic polished using a stone tumbler.

You can polish rough rock and beach glass whilst collecting fossils, on those days where you come back empty handed. These are all high quality machines to give a professional finish to your samples. They can even be used for amber and fossils.

At most locations, you can find microfossils. You only need a small sample of the sand. You then need to wash it in water and sieve using a test sieve. Once the sand is processed, you can then view the contents using a microscope.

We have a wide range of microscopes for sale, you will need a Stereomicroscope for viewing microfossils. The best one we sell is the IMXZ, but a basic microscope will be fine. Once you have found microfossils, you will need to store these microfossils.

Test Sieves are used when searching for microfossils. Microfossils can be found in many locations, and all you need is a small amount of sample such as clays, sands and shales, or if you have acid, limestone, oolite or chalk.

Our UKGE Store sells Endecotts Test Sieves, which are the highest in accuracy and extremely durable and long lasting. These Test Sieves are fantastic for microfossils. Endecotts Test Sieves come in a variety of sizes, frame material and types, they are certificated to EU Standards.

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(C)opyright 2008 - UKGE Limited, UK Fossils Network and Deposits Magazine, all rights reserved.
While we (UKGE/UK Fossils) try to ensure that the content of this location guide is accurate and up to date, we cannot and do not guarantee this. Nor can we be held liable for any loss or injury caused by or to a person visiting this site. Remember: this is only a location guide and the responsibility remains with the person or persons making the visit for their own personal safety and the safety of their possessions. That is, any visit to this location is of a personal nature and has not been arranged or directly suggested by UK Fossils. In addition, we recommend visitors get their own personal insurance cover. Please also remember to check tide times and rights of way (where relevant), and to behave in a responsible and safe manner at all times (for example, by keeping away from cliff faces and mud).
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