Memories of Kimmeridge Bay

Clavell Tower Kimmeridge

This is Clavell Tower built as a folly around 1830 on the top of Hen Cliff at the eastern end of Kimmeridge Bay along the Jurassic coast of Dorset.

Kimmeridge Bay is one of those unspoilt corners of Britain that has not condescended into selling fish and chips, postcards or cheap gaudy trinkets shipped in from the Far East that are meant to be genuine souvenirs of a visit to the British seaside.

What makes Kimmeridge Bay unique is it’s geology. The main strata exposed by countless millennia of tides is Kimmeridge Clay which looks like slate but lacks the durability. Walking along the shore by the base of the cliffs the visitor can hear a constant ‘click’. This is the sound of small chis of clay falling on to the shore from the cliff faces. People visit here in the hope of finding fossils embedded in this soft rock and sometimes find fragments holding the impression of parts of ancient ammonites if they are both patient in their search and lucky.

There is no sandy beach, just outcrops of Kimmeridge Clay being slowly eroded by the ocean. Sometimes on these outcrops the erosion of the ocean has revealed a full sized ammonite fossil but the rock it is in is so soft the impression and the creature’s footprint in history will finally be gone forever.

On the opposite end of Kimmeridge Bay from Clavell Tower and Hen Cliff is a nodding donkey pumping oil from 1100 metres underground at the rate of 65 barrels per day. Hardly enough to swing the oil price but a steady and constant flow of the black gold that has been extracted here since the late 1950’s. Production peaked at 350 barrels per day.

Surfer silouhette

As well as oil, geology,  being part of the the Jurassic Coast and largely unspoilt, Kimmeridge bay is a haven for surfers.  Not the golden soft sands of Bondi Beach or Newquay with cafes and promenades but still a cool place to hang out waiting for the perfect wave.

Surf watcher




About alangrenville

I live in southern Britain near the fabulous New Forest. While studying for a BSc in International Studies I have developed a strong belief in 'NIBAW' or 'nothing is black and white'. Hence my favourite saying "Too often we...enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought" (John F Kennedy).
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