Famed for its fossils, Jurassic Coast and literary connections, Lyme Regis was on my list of places to explore. The Dorset town is exquisite, set in Lyme Bay and steeped in history.
Walking down the hill through the public gardens I headed towards the famous Cobb in Lyme Regis. This is the 14th century harbour wall epitomised in the movie The French Lieutenant’s Woman starring Meryl Streep. Today the sea was calm as I walked along the ancient wall separating the town and harbour from rougher waters. The wall sloped gently and as I walked the wind was surprisingly wild, given the sunnier clime back in Lyme.At the edge of the Cobb the wind whipped round me and it did not take much to imagine what it must be like on this wall in stormy weather.
Back in town I walked past pastel coloured cottages, ice cream stands, and ammonite shaped lamp posts with the beach on my right. I tried to imagine how Jane Austen would have found Lyme Regis as she spent a significant amount of time in the town. Her novel Persuasion is based in the town and includes a walk to the Cobb. This is where Anne Elliot meets Captain Wentworth in Persuasion and was reunited with him.
In 1685 the Duke of Monmouth landed at Lyme Regis in an attempt to overthrow James II from the throne of England. The Monmouth Rebellion culminated in the Battle of Sedgemoor. The Duke of Monmouth’s troops lost and both he and many of his followers were executed.
You can’t go to Lyme and not taste the local fish. After asking a couple of locals for a recommendation I found Lyme’s Fish Bar on Coombe Street. The fish and chips was superb and comes highly recommended as seen by the locals queuing on a Friday lunchtime.
Opposite is Town Mill. This is a warren of craft workshops and cafes including a local brewery. For me the mill dating from the 1340 was a highlight.There is thought to have been a mill there since the Domesday Book recorded it in 1086. It had been restored in 2001 and the working watermill still produces flour today. Tours of the mill are free but donations to its upkeep are much appreciated. The enthusiasm of the miller explaining the history of the mill and the types of work done there was worth the journey alone. Watching the cogs go round and the power of the water was really insightful. Flour is available in the small shop and makes a memorable souvenir. It also bakes well as the spelt loaves made at home testify.
There is much more to see in Lyme which is also famous for fossils and Mary Anning’s paleontology finds on the nearby beaches. That is for another day as I will definitely be returning to Lyme Regis.
To find out more about my January Journeys click here.