Lepe

During scouring conditions, The famous ‘elephant bed’ is exposed at Stansore point, yielding various mammal remains. To the western end of the car park, fossils can be found in the many blocks both along the footpath to the cliffs and the foreshore. At the western end, foreshore Eocene clays yield microfossils.

DIRECTIONS

♦ From Totton, take the A326, heading to Hythe. If coming from the M27, you can bypass Totton by following the A326. As you go past Hythe, you will cross a series of roundabouts, the last one of which has a signpost to the Lepe Country Park. Follow the signs to this park.
♦ Once you get to the Lepe Country Park, you will notice that it is both a big and popular tourist attraction. As you approach the park, a sign indicates that the country park is to the left.
♦ However, this will take you to the upper part of the park and will involve a long walk to the site. Instead, follow the road down, taking you to the coast.
♦ There is a park car park here, which is much closer to the site, and has a cafe and toilets.
You can either walk east to visit the elephant bed or west for the Pleistocene gravel cliffs and microfossils.
♦ The gravel cliffs are a fair walk from the park, past the house next to the sea.
♦ Ref: 50.784591, -1.360619

PROFILE INFO

FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦ – This is a very good location for Pleistocene remains. Several elephant bones have been found here along with other fossils. Try to visit during the autumn, winter or spring and especially after high tides, as this is when bones can be found, along with fossils from the underlying clay. Walk east for Pleistocene remains and Headon Hill microfossils, and west for the elephant bed.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦♦ – This location is suitable for older children, as the walk can be a little too far for younger children. The toilets and cafe at the car park are ideal for family visits, and the area has an information centre and plenty of walks.
ACCESS: ♦♦♦♦ – The actual country park is easy to find, with toilets, an information centre and a cafe. However, it is a fair walk to get to the elephant bed or cliffs from here.
TYPE: – The famous ‘elephant bed’ is actually at the far end of the cliffs. From the car park, walk east to Stansore point (which is just past the most easterly end of the car park). Along the foreshore, a black peaty bed can yield many different sorts of mammal remains, including the famous elephant bones. This bed is not always exposed, as it is often covered with sand. You will need Wellington boots just in case the bed is exposed. Search along the foreshore for any bones exposed in the clay. Finds can include mammoths, land and marine gastropods, bivalves and various flora, including buttercup, oak tree, maple and the common bramble.
To the western end of the car park, fossils can be found in the many blocks both along the footpath to the cliffs and the foreshore. Corals and goniatites from the Carboniferous Limestone, molluscs from the Bembridge Limestone and a dinosaur footprint was also discovered in Purbeck rocks in the sea defences. Do not hammer on these, as they are active sea defences.
Once you reach the Pleistocene cliffs, microfossils can be collected during favourable scouring conditions from the foreshore clays, which are part of the Headon Hill Formation. Note that there are no restrictions on digging up samples from here.

FOSSIL HUNTING

The famous ‘elephant bed’ is actually at the far end of the cliffs. From the car park, walk east to Stansore point (which is just past the most easterly end of the car park). Along the foreshore, a black peaty bed can yield many different sorts of mammal remains, including the famous elephant bones. This bed is not always exposed, as it is often covered with sand. You will need Wellington boots just in case the bed is exposed. Search along the foreshore for any bones exposed in the clay. Finds can include mammoths, land and marine gastropods, bivalves and various flora, including buttercup, oak tree, maple and the common bramble.

To the western end of the car park, fossils can be found in the many blocks both along the footpath to the cliffs and the foreshore. Corals and goniatites from the Carboniferous Limestone, molluscs from the Bembridge Limestone and a dinosaur footprint was also discovered in Purbeck rocks in the sea defences. Do not hammer on these, as they are active sea defences.

Once you reach the Pleistocene cliffs, microfossils can be collected during favourable scouring conditions from the foreshore clays, which are part of the Headon Hill Formation. Note that there are no restrictions on digging up samples from here.

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GEOLOGY

The exposures at Lepe Cliff are of Devensian gravel (Pleistocene). Below these gravels, the Headon Hill Formation (clays) can be seen, although they are not always exposed. Also of interest are large sea defence rocks along the footpath and also on the foreshore, just past the car park. These consist of Bembridge Limestone, Purbeck Stone and Carboniferous Limestone. At the eastern end of the car park, an Ipswichian interglacial deposit yields elephant remains, exposed on the foreshore as a black, peaty bed.

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SAFETY

Common sense when collecting at all locations should always be used and prior knowledge of tide times is essential. During the summer months, the sea rarely reaches the cliff, but during the winter months, it is possible to get cut off by the tide. Therefore, at this time of the year, make sure you visit during a falling tide. Note that at the western end of the site, the cliffs are very unstable, so keep away from their base. Also, at the western end along the coastal footpath, there is quite a big drop from the path to the beach, so keep children well away from the edge.

EQUIPMENT

Tools are not needed at this location, as fossils are found along the foreshore. However, those interested in microfossils may wish to bring a trowel and sample bags to collect the clay to take home.

ACCESS RIGHTS

This site is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI). This means you can visit the site, but hammering the bedrock is not permitted. For full information about the reasons for the status of the site and restrictions, download the PDF from Natural England.

It is important to follow our ‘Code of Conduct’ when collecting fossils or visiting any site. Please also read our ‘Terms and Conditions

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