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Explore the jungle of the Undercliff National Nature Reserve amongst our UNESCO World Heritage cliffs, with an Undercliff tour. Each path along the Undercliff represents the land that time forgot. On this tour we discover the history of civilization in this secret place. Studded with forgotten ruins, the Undercliff is shrouded in mystery and, for every mystery, there is a history.
1p walk is for permanent residents of Lyme Regis and Uplyme areas.
In the past the Undercliff was a picture of rural idyll, with sheep roaming the cliffs and cows producing renowned Devon cream. The Undercliff was a hive of activity with estate workers from the various big houses that line the cliffs going about their daily business.
One occasion where this all came to an abrupt halt was the great landslip of 1839. The ground began to rumble one Christmas and the locals thought nothing of it, being accustomed to landslides. Shortly afterwords the walls of the houses in the area began to split and, eventually, a huge chasm was formed. Families travelled for miles to see it and the locals began to charge an entry fee!
Such slips occur because of the Undercliff's geology. The area is formed from chalk and greensand that sit on the top of layers of clay. When rain falls, the water seeps through the greensand and chalk but cannot permeate the thick clay which is then lubricated by the excessive moisture between it and the layers above. This causes large sections of rock to fall in landslips.
Landslips have continued to occur throughout the centuries and have left what Jane Austen called the 'green chasms' of 'Pinny;' the Undercliff.
'There runs, between Lyme Regis and Axmouth six miles to the west, one of the strangest coastal landscapes in Southern England. From the air it is not very striking; one notes merely that whereas elsewhere on the coast the fields run to the cliff edge, here they stop a mile or so short of it. The cultivated chequer of green and red-brown breaks, with a kind of joyous undiscipline, into a dark cascade of trees and undergrowth. There are no roofs. If one flies low enough one can see that the terrain is very abrupt, cut by deep chasms and accented by strange bluffs and towers of chalk and flint, which loom over the lush foliage around them like the walls of ruined castles. From the air... but on foot this seemingly unimportant wilderness gains a strange extension. People have been lost in it for hours, and cannot believe, when they see on the map where they were lost, that their sense of isolation--and if the weather be bad, desolation--could have seemed so great.' (The French Lieutenant's Woman)
We take regular breaks throughout this tour, including a lunch break in the heart of the Undercliff with phenomenal coastal views.
Undercliff tours run all year round. For out of season walks, please ring or email to book your tour.
Explore the jungle of the Undercliff National Nature Reserve amongst our UNESCO World Heritage cliffs, with an Undercliff tour.
Each path along the Undercliff represents the land that time forgot. On this tour we discover the history of civilization in this secret place. Studded with forgotten ruins, the Undercliff is shrouded in mystery and, for every mystery, there is a history. The tour explores the depths of our heritage coastline, hearing stories about forgotten civilisation of the Undercliff and the landscape that inspired literary greats.
This 8 mile woodland trek along the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage site is an ideal all day activity, with stunning views over Lyme Bay. The tour includes historical information on great Victorian manor houses and their estates, country living, farming, the English Civil War, smuggling and literary inspiration such as John Fowles, Jane Austen, Dick Bessant and Tolkien.
Architecture of the Undercliff Times & Tickets
Architecture of the Undercliff tours operate all year round, but scheduled, public walks are listed on the calendar.
To book a tour that is not on one of these days or times, please email us.
Please be aware that a guide will only be sent to meet this tour if bookings are received. Booking recommended.
This walk is a full day's walk and should not be undertaken if you have any walking difficulties at all. The Undercliff Nature Reserve contains cravasses, sometimes hidden, landslips, mud, fallen trees, streams, steep hills and can be very difficult underfoot. There are no escape routes half way along the walk, so before booking, please esnure that you are physically capable of doing the walk. There is almost no mobile/cell phone reception in the Undercliff Nature Reserve. Do not rely on mobile phones if you are planning to go into the reserve.
The undercliff is home to ticks. Ticks can carry Lymes Disease and so it is important to keep yourself covered. Ticks can be found anywhere (een in your garden at home) but it is important to protect yourself against ticks when in environments such as nature reserves.