A walk in the hills behind the town that ends on the famous Cobb.
Distance 4 miles (6.4km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Ascent/gradient 427ft (130m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Town centre, promenade, woodland steps, paths, 1 stile
Landscape Town, cliffs and hinterland of steep valley
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 116 Lyme Regis & Bridport
Start/finish SY 337916
Dog friendliness Very busy in summer, dogs banned from shingle beach
Parking Pay-and-display near Cobb (other car parks on route)
Public toilets Signposted at several car parks and seafront
1 From the harbour car park, face inland and take the path to the left of the bowling green, up some steps between wooden chalets, signed 'Coastal Path'. Cross a road and continue via more steps up through steep woodland, beside a stream. Cross a stile at the top and turn right. Go through a gate and continue along a path and then a road between villas, to cross a car park. Cross the road ahead and, with Coram Tower on your left, go straight on down Pound Road. Pass the thatched Cursbrook Hotel. Meet the B3165 opposite the Mariners Hotel. Cross this then go down Woodmead Road. Soon turn left through a gate and follow the path down through a plantation.
2 Go through a gate on to Roman Road. Bear right, cross the River Lim and turn left down a lane. By Middle Mill Farm cross a footbridge. Continue along the valley floor. At the corner bear right through a gate, cross a footbridge and bear right at the fork. Pass a thatched cottage on the left and turn right over a bridge (blue marker). Follow this path through woods to a gate. Continue past the sewage works and through another gate into a field.
3 Go straight on up the hill, with Sleech Wood to your left. Continue through a gate. Near the top of Dragon's Hill go through a gate and turn right, down a lane. Stay on this below a caravan park to emerge on Charmouth Road. Turn right and follow this for ½ mile (800m), down into the town, taking care where the pavement runs out. Pass the former London pub (now a B&B) and enter the old town. Turn right into Monmouth Street, passing through a delightful square with gardens. Keep right, up the hill, towards Dinosaurland. Pass Dinosaurland on the right, with a fossil museum and shop. Continue uphill. Take the riverside path on the left, signposted 'Town Mill'. The stream is on your left, the river below to your right.
4 Turn left up Mill Lane, and right on to Coombe Street, towards the harbour. Here you get the impression of lots of tiny houses tightly packed together. Bear left at the end, by the Lyme Fossil Shop, on to Broad Street, towards the tourist information centre. Turn right by the Guildhall, and right again along the sea, via the fortifications, Guncliffe Walk, really a disguise for a new sewage scheme.
5 Pass a huge anchor and bear right up Broad Street, as far as the Royal Lion Hotel. Walk down the opposite pavement, around the old shambles, to Bell Cliff. Go down the steps and turn right along Marine Parade. Local philanthropist Thomas Hollis created this walkway in 1771 as an alternative to the lower cart road. Shingle on your left gives way to sand near the amusement arcades. The buildings on the eastern arm of the harbour now house an aquarium. Continue up a lane, passing the Royal Standard on your left. Bear left by the Cobb Arms and walk down to the end of the Cobb.
6 Return, turning left by the Lifeboat Station to get back to the car park.
The Cobb is a breakwater, first constructed in the 13th century to protect the town from the sea. The sheltered harbour it created made Lyme Dorset's second largest port. The Cobb was rebuilt in Portland stone in the early 19th century with a walkway on the sheltered side. While the shipping trade had waned by then, cargoes were still being unloaded here into the 20th century. Jane Austen visited Lyme Regis in 1804, and set a pivotal scene of her novel Persuasion (1818) on the Cobb - the impetuous Louisa Musgrove mistimed her jump from the steps. (The house where Jane Austen stayed was recently pulled down and replaced by a memorial garden, above Marine Parade.) The Cobb gained contemporary fame when scenes for the 1981 film, The French Lieutenant's Woman, were shot here. It was based on the novel by John Fowles who was curator of the local history museum for many years.
For something different, go to sea. Deep-sea fishing trips are offered from Lyme and lots of little boats are available for charter. They advertise a variety of adventures and expeditions on the seafront near the Cobb. There's mackerel fishing in season, too.
In Lyme the smart Millside Coffee Shop and Wine Bar is beside the old Town Mill. Lunch options include grilled red snapper and Thai curry. The traditional Royal Standard pub, in a harbour setting near the Cobb, offers local fish dishes, from scallops served with garlic toast to crabs and lobster. There's a beer garden on the seaward side. Dogs are welcome on a lead.
In 1811, in the cliffs near the town, Mary Anning discovered the first complete icthyosaurus - a marine reptile a bit like a dolphin, which grew up to 33ft (10m) long. It's now the pride of London's Natural History Museum. Dinosaurland is a fascinating fossil museum, with icthyosaurs, plesiosaurs and other Jurassic delights, plus a time gallery to show what life was like 4.6 billion years ago. Take your own finds to its fossil clinic, or go with an expert guide on a fossil walk.