Lyme Regis: The Riverside Walk.

Lyme Beach.

This is the first part of a short series on the famous town featured by John Fowles in ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’, and by Jane Austin in ‘Persuasion’.

Lyme Regis, balanced on the cliffs of the Jurassic Coast at the very edge of West Dorset, is the seaside town where Mary Anning, the palaeontologist, found fossils that made a huge contribution to our understanding of the age of the world and the way life evolved. It’s also a popular holiday destination for visitors of all ages.

We spent a week here earlier this summer and I’d like to share some of our experiences, with pictures for those who love the place, those who might like to visit, and those unlikely to see it for themselves.

Solways Orchard Annexe

We stayed in a self-catering place high in Uplyme. Parking in the town is sometimes difficult due to narrow streets and the large number of visitors, so we chose a place with its own parking space. Since we walk as much as we can, it suits us to find somewhere we can safely leave the car behind if possible.

Solways Orchard Annexe is let through Lyme Bay Holidays, who have an office in the town. It turned out to be a pretty good location for us, though it would probably not suit those who like to be at the centre of things. We enjoy peace and the chance of some solitude, and we prefer to walk to and from places where we decide to eat so we can share a bottle of wine with the food.

We chose Lyme so we could meet with relations who were also staying. Due to the frail nature of one of them, they were in a small cottage on the sea front, close to the facilities they needed, and content to sit and watch the world go by.

The weather was a little variable during our week. We had some rain, but it remained mostly quite warm for England in June. (Turns out June 2019 was the hottest on record!).

Sitting room in the Annexe

Our afternoon arrival had us visiting the offices of Lyme Bay Holidays to collect the key and obtain directions. The property was under a mile up the hill, so we walked to survey the route before returning for the car. As well we did, as the turning’s a little obscure. Before picking up the car again, however, we visited the Royal Lion Hotel to check whether we’d need to book for an evening meal there. It turned out we didn’t, not for bar meals anyway.

At the house, Ann and Chris, the elderly owners who live in the other half of the property, were in the garden and advised where we should park the car before showing us round and explaining various features.

The decking at the rear of the house.

Once unpacked, we relaxed and showered off the travel before setting out for food. The hill down to the centre of the town is quite steep using the main road, but we’d already discovered, from the map helpfully provided in the house, we could use a different route. Hayes Lane is narrow, winding, but not as steep, and we followed it down until we recognised a side street that took us to the main road and the hotel.

Food was the usual English pub style and quality, but the Prosecco seemed a touch steep at £30.95. Once fed, we walked back up the lane and sat out on the decking to relax. Valerie had a cuppa and I indulged in a glass of Pinot, and we talked of the day and admired the lovely view.

The view from the decking at the rear of the property.

I’m a habitual early riser and woke around 06:30 so sat in the sitting room reading The Dark Poet, by Kathryn Gossow, until Valerie woke naturally.

After breakfast, we walked to Hayes Lane and wandered down the public footpath across sloping fields toward the old mill to join the riverside path that leads down into Lyme.

Crossing the field from Hayes Lane to the Riverside Walk

It’s a pleasant walk and has had a fair sum spent on it recently to make it accessible and easy to use.

The old mill

Popular with visitors and local dog walkers, it provides a quiet and scenic route right down to the seafront.

The well paved walk.

It hugs the small River Lim (or Lym, depending on who’s providing the name) for much of the way.

The River Lim

As is now common in the south of England, there are patches of Japanese Knotweed and occasional examples of Giant Hogweed by the water.

Pretty flowers grow along the walls that enclose the stream.

But there are also many native plants, and the local authority has provided bird/bat boxes in some of the trees to help local wildlife.

Bird/bat box sited in a riverside tree

Along the more populated stretches, where the small stream runs close to narrow streets, alongside gardens, and beside some tourist tracks, there are splashes of vibrant colour provided by cultivated plants that have commandeered the banks.

At one point, the path runs with the stream on either side.

We wandered around the seafront and took in some of the sights before finding a café for lunch.

Looking up to the church.

Of course, this was Saturday so there were plenty of visitors. The Lyme Bay Café and Bar seemed popular, and almost everywhere was full, so when we saw an empty table, we went for it.

The Lyme Bay Cafe and Bar

The place was lively with diners, and young staff trying to keep up with demand. It was also, surprisingly, a little cool. Not a problem, since the air outside was growing hot. I ordered fish and chips (my haddock was a little cool, but cooked well). Valerie had their Pea and Mint Soup, which she enjoyed. We had warm drinks; cappuccino and Earl Grey tea, and fresh scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, which went down very well.

A portion of the pavement outside the museum, where a fossil-encrusted rock has been smoothed to form part of the walkway.

We walked back up the hill and along the Roman Road, half of which is unsuitable for traffic so is quiet and shrouded in trees.

The river joins the sea here.

Tired from the walks, we spent a little time watching some tennis and the Women’s Football (Australia v Norway) on the telly.

The Jurassic Coast looking east from Lyme

Later, we took a walk into Uplyme, which is quite pretty. The walk, however, was a little risky in places due to a lack of pavements and the narrowness of parts of the road. On our return, we moved the furniture around a little, as the sofa was just too wide for our comfort. A couple of armchairs suited, though we generally prefer to sit together.

The view of the front garden from the sitting room

I’ll continue this account in a few more posts, so watch this space!

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