Tidmoor Point is a small promontory of highly productive Oxford Clay, situated along the shoreline of The Fleet lagoon, opposite Chesil Beach. Renowned for its pyrite and limonitic casts of small ammonites, the cliff here is very low. Apart from ammonites, the site is also rich in belemnites, crinoids, crabs, lobsters, sharks, reptiles, crocodiles, fish and molluscs.
♦ Take the Chickerell Link Road (B3157) from Dorchester and drive to the junction with Chickerell Road. Turn left at the traffic lights onto Chickerell Road (signposted the Jurassic Coast Road), passing the Chickerell Army Training Camp on the right.
♦ At a distance of just under a kilometre, you will see a lay-by opposite Tidmoor Holiday Cottages at DT3 4DG. Park here. If you overshoot, turn left into Putton Lane (there is a small Post Office on the corner, opposite the Art House Cafe)) and park here instead.
♦ Cross over Chickerell Road on foot and walk down the side of Tidmoor Holiday Cottages, along a concrete path that runs past the Army firing ranges to The Fleet. If the red flag is flying near the entrance to the Army grounds, or you hear gunfire, you cannot get to the Tidmoor Point beach and you will need to turn left along the coast path to Tidmoor Cove instead (see access restrictions).
♦ At the bottom of the path, bear slightly right and go through a gate, following the narrow path, crossing the wooden planking, until you reach the final metal gate. Bear right and walk more or less parallel to the coast, until you finally reach Tidmoor Point.
♦ Don’t be too eager to get onto the beach. Wait until you see a concrete ramp, leading to a broken wooden jetty, which means you are in the right spot. Once on the foreshore, walk to the right.
♦ Ref: 50.605181, -2.5043142
FIND FREQUENCY: ♦♦♦♦ – This has long been regarded as a highly fossiliferous locality. However, over-collecting in recent years has clearly impacted on the numbers of fossils. The very slow erosion rate of the gentle lapping waters of The Fleet means collection is best after winter storms, when the low cliff sections have been subjected to rougher tides and storms.
CHILDREN: ♦♦♦ – This can be a fair walk for children, so the site is more suitable for older children. Note also that the mudflats are dangerous, so ensure children to not venture onto these.
ACCESS: ♦♦ – Access depends on the firing range times of the army camp, which may restrict access to the cove only. If the firing ranges are being used, there is no access. The walk itself is quite a long distance.
TYPE: – Fossils are found along the foreshore, washed from the small cliffs. The best time to collect is after storms and during the winter.
Tidmoor Point is renowned for its pyrite and limonitic casts of small ammonites of the Lamberti Zone of the Oxford Clay Formation and this is the location where Quenstedioceras lamberti was first discovered. The cliff here is very low and much slipped, but productive collection is on, or just above, the beach, where an abundance of ammonites, belemnites (Hibolites hastata and Belemnopsis bessina) and other fossils can be picked up. These include ammonites (Quenstedioceras leachi, Quenstedioceras henrici, Kosmoceras spinosum and Kosmoceras compressum), as well as ossicles and parts of the stems of Pentacrinus crinoids, casts of bivalves (Nucula, Grammatodon, numerous Gryphaea lituola and the dwarfed, Gryphaea dilatata). Most ammonites are small. Also to be found here are parts of lobsters and crabs, the teeth of the shark, Sphenodus, plesiosaurs and marine crocodile teeth, with occasional bones from turtles and fish.
This location is best for individuals exploring the beauty of The Fleet shoreline, with a profusion of bird life. The whole area is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), so digging into the banks or cliffs in prohibited, which is futile in any case, as the fossils require erosion from The Fleet waters and the weather to allow them to emerge from the very sticky clay. Tidmoor Point also forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast, and is also a Ramsar (wetland) site and a Special Area of Conservation Interest, among other designations.
The most fossiliferous spot is at the northwest extremity of the point. The Tidmoor Point Clays are part of the Lower Oxfordian (Callovian).
Tidmoor Cove lies southeast of the point. Do not attempt to cross to the cove across the mudflats, despite it looking to be a shortcut. This is dangerously deep mud, which must be avoided. Take the coastal path from the point and drop down onto the foreshore at Tidmoor Cove, close to Littlesea Caravan Park. At Tidmoor Cove, the fossils are similar to Tidmoor Point, but large specimens of Gryphaea dilata can be picked up from the beach. The Mariae Zone crops out beneath the caravan site, containing the ammonite, Quenstedioceras mariae, among others.
Tidmoor Point is a small promontory of Oxford Clay, situated along the shoreline of The Fleet lagoon, opposite Chesil Beach. The Oxford Clay is Jurassic (Callovian to Oxfordian) in age.
A specimen bag or box will be useful. All fossils can be picked by hand, without the need for any equipment.
Tidmoor Cove lies southeast of the point. Do not attempt to cross to the cove across the mudflats. This is dangerously deep mud, which must be avoided. Also ensure you check tide times before you visit.
If the red flag is flying near the entrance to the Army grounds or you hear gunfire, you cannot get to the Tidmoor Point beach, as the Army is practicing and you will need to turn left along the coast path to Tidmoor Cove instead. Monthly firing times are now published online (google Chickerell Firing Times for a current timetable).
This site is an SSSI and forms part of the UNESCO World Heritage Jurassic Coast. 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.