Every Friday, I’m going to explore a great wild swim, pool, open water swimming spot or beach. Seeing as I’m not prepared to take the plunge in the UK this early in the year, I thought I’d start with some fossiling fun.
East Quantoxhead is on the Somerset coast, about 13 miles west of Bridgwater. The village itself has a church, grade I listed manor house and pretty thatched cottages its own duck pond and mill house dating from 1725. The manor was granted to an ascendant of the family that still owns it in around 1070, since when no part of the estate has been sold. The village used to have a small harbour which brought in limestone and exported alabaster. It is thought that it was also used for smuggling.
From the village, you can walk down a track that leads to the coast path, from which you can walk down steep steps to the beach. If you turn left and walk along the beach for half a mile or so, you start finding small ammonites in the flat rock sediment. There are also much bigger ammonites to be found.
We went on a cold, clear morning, parking in the church car park opposite the duck pond, and following the track the other side of the pond from the car park. Our cold children, who began by moaning, were soon warmed by the walk – and a bit of Dairy Milk for fuel helped!
It took a while to finding our first fossil, but it was all about finding the right spot. Fossil hunting is very absorbing, and we spent almost two hours scrambling over rocks, turning stones and chipping away with a small hammer and chisel. I think when your hunt is productive, it spurs you on, and fossils are plentiful here.
There’s a good AA walk you can follow, which is about 3 miles long. Or you can simply walk there and back. We parked and then walked from number 3 on the map, to 6, and then turned left along the beach.
You can’t drive to the beach, and it certainly isn’t accessible for wheels or those who are unsteady on their feet. Dogs are restricted. You have to be a bit careful of the cliffs because they’re unstable.