A seaview has to be one of the best ways to restore body and soul for me, so Lyme Regis was the perfect place to escape to when the 2020 pandemic restrictions eased for a while. Our apartment sat above the town with fabulous views of the harbour and the Jurassic Coast cliffs. Sitting on the balcony day and night was a firm fixture of our week there.
Another recurring theme was eating and drinking as Lyme Regis has become quite the foodie paradise. So a great place to relax, enjoy the local fayre and explore the town, alongside making a few short trips to nearby towns and beauty spots. That included walking to Golden Cap, the highest point on England’s south coast, which we could see looking stunning at sunset from our balcony. You can read more about that in my earlier post.
But back to Lyme Regis and it’s a pretty town, quite compact and easy to walk around, albeit a little hilly. The walk to where we were staying in Silver Street was a tad steep in places, but worth it for the views. And going downhill it was only five minutes to the top of Broad Street, the main shopping street that leads down to the seafront.
There are a couple of small supermarkets on Broad Street to pick up the essentials for your stay and a few well known stores, but it’s mostly independents. We particularly liked Ammonite, a fine food shop that was a great place to pick up gifts and foodie treats. Of course there also are plenty of fossil shops in Lyme Regis and you can learn all about them and the town’s most famous fossil-hunter Mary Anning at the Lyme Regis Museum. Kate Winslet plays her in the 2020 film Ammonite, which is also worth a look.
Also on Broad Street are plenty of cafes and restaurants. We really liked the quirky Galley Cafe and after having breakfast there on our first morning we went back to have one of their Posh Pasties for lunch a few days later.
You can cut through the Broad Street Car Park to get to the Town Mill. There has been a watermill on the site since the 14th century and the mill is still in operation grinding organic flour and generating hydroelectricity. All around it are workshops including a pottery and microbrewery and there’s an art gallery too. It’s a really pretty spot with a courtyard cafe and other shops to browse.
Walking out of the complex down Mill Lane there is a restaurant called Millside which had been recommended to me, but the menu was a bit too limited for non-meat eaters. Just around the corner in Coombe Street is the Town Mill Bakery. As well as selling fresh baked goods it has tables inside and out and is a great place for breakfast. And for lunch too though it does close at 2pm.
Coombe Street is a lovely narrow street that’s worth exploring with quite a few shops and other places to eat. The Tierra Kitchen is a vegetarian restaurant that wasn’t open for eating in because of the restrictions, but you could buy home made dishes to take away and heat up. We did that one evening and the food was delicious.
If you turn left at the end of Coombe Street you’ll find the museum, then the tourist information centre and behind that the Marine Theatre. Like most theatres it was closed but they has been doing some outdoor performances which I imagine would have been great in its location on the seafront.
It’s a nice walk from the theatre along the seafront going away from the town with some great views of the cliffs including Golden Cap. Doubling back and just past the theatre is the Cobb Gate Car Park that sits at the bottom of Broad Street and has a memorial clock tower at its centre. At the top is four sided clock and inscriptions to those who lost their lives in 20th century wars.
Marine Parade runs from here to the habour in front of Lyme Regis beach. It’s a great place to walk, rent a beach hut or just sit on one of the benches and look at the ocean.
There are also some shops including a nice one run by the National Trust and lots of places to stop for a bite to eat or a drink. We picked up a takeout lunch from the Beach House Cafe and also had dinner at Swim one evening which was really good.
Also on this stretch is the very popular Poco Pizza and Jane’s Cafe underneath it. Jane’s was a lifesaver when we arrived later than planned on our first day and found lots of places only served lunch until 2pm. Jane’s was open all day so a cream team with a large glass of white wine worked very well as a late lunch on my birthday!
Pretty pastel coloured beach huts are scattered along the beach and at the end of the parade you can bear left to head over to the best known spot in Lyme Regis, the Cobb. The curved harbour wall dates back to the 13th century and is a reminder of the town’s commercial origins.
Jane Austen fans (like me) will also know that it features in Persuasion. Needless to say I had to attempt a recreation of Louisa Musgrove’s topple off the stone steps, minus the actual fall of course! Part of the way along the Cobb is an aquarium showcasing local marine life. And there are plenty of fishing boats too, with some offering the chance to go out on a fishing trip. Harry May runs short trips to catch mackerel and longer trips for deep sea fishing.
Beyond the Cobb is the larger Monmouth Beach and behind it is the Undercliff nature reserve. We briefly walked up the steep steps into it but quickly realised it would be better done with walking boots. Instead we walked back to the main seafront and headed up to the Langmoor and Lister Gardens that sit above it. There are excellent views in both directions and the gardens also have pretty lights in the trees after dark.
Also up here is the The Oyster & Fish House, owned and run by celebrity chef Mark Hix. We went there on our first evening for my birthday dinner. The cocktails, fizz, wine and food were all fabulous. So much so we tried to book again for later in the week but it was fully booked. So definitely one to plan ahead. But we did manage to get a spot on the terrace overlooking the Cobb for Martinis one rainy afternoon!
As I mentioned earlier Lyme Regis has developed quite a foodie scene. So as well as the places I’ve name-checked already there are plenty of others to choose from. We had a very nice evening at the The Pilot Boat in Bridge Street and a great lunch at the nearby Rockpoint Inn. Both of those also have accommodation available. Also close by is the 17th century Bell Cliff Restaurant, a good place for a cheese tea if you fancy a change from cream and jam.
But our top find was The Pop-Up Kitchen at the top of Broad Street. It’s a great concept where chefs can rent the space to test out their menus before starting their own restaurants. One night we ate the Strawberry Tree’s delicious Spanish food and on another had Tom’s fantastic four course menu. There were excellent veggie options for each course including a Beetroot Carpaccio starter and a Potato Gnocchi main. He’s now opened Tom’s down on the seafront.
Another previous occupant of the kitchen was chef Harriet Mansell who tested out her Robin Wylde concept. After a successful pop-up season she opened the Robin Wylde restaurant about a minute’s walk away in Silver Street. It was just being fitted out when we were there, so we walked passed every day and peered in to see the progress. It’s definitely somewhere we’ll be going to next time we’re in Lyme Regis, as well as Lilac wine bar which Harriet is opening soon in a 400 year old cellar on Broad Street.
Lyme Regis is also a good base for exploring other places along the coast and inland too. We popped over to Axminster which is across the border in Devon. As well as being famous for carpets it has some nice shops to explore. There’s also the River Cottage Kitchen which is a town centre outlet of Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s famous River Cottage. That’s also nearby and I’m sure is worth a visit. We didn’t this time as the activities and access were limited due to the pandemic restrictions.
I mentioned our visit to Seatown to walk up to Golden Cap earlier, but other coastal spots include Bridport and it’s West Bay cliffs and harbour. The town is nice and we found a great zero waste shop, but as a Broadchurch fan the real attraction for me was West Bay. As well as seeing those dramatic cliffs you can find all the other locations like the police station, Jack Marshall’s newsagents and DI Hardy’s riverside home. It was up for sale at the time but we weren’t tempted!
The harbour down at West Bay is nice to walk around too with some traditional seaside food huts. You can also visit Sladers Yard art gallery or browse The Customs House which is packed full of antiques and bric-a-brac.
On route to Bridport we popped into Moore’s Biscuits at Morcomelake which has a huge shop and bakery filled with their famous Dorset Knobs and other treats. And after Bridport we drove on to Burton Bradstock with hopes of getting into the Hive Cafe which doesn’t take bookings. With social distancing the space was more limited than usual so the queue was massive. We were too hungry for that but found that the Three Horsehoes pub in the village served up a very nice lunch.
But after any trip out we were always happy to get back to lovely Lyme Regis. The apartment we booked through Toad Hall Cottages was brilliant. We had a bedroom and bathroom each and plenty of living space to kick around in when the weather wasn’t too good. But mostly we just liked to sit on the balcony, drink a glass of wine and enjoy that fabulous Lyme Regis view.
Click on an image below to scroll through more photos in the gallery. And check the UK section of my blog for more staycation ideas.