A surefire way to make your beach walk much more exciting and memorable is to try fossil hunting. South Wales has some of the best places in the UK for fossils, it has the same geological formations as the Somerset Coast but is less well known.

-Do read the UK Fossil Collecting Code of Conduct if you are new to fossil hunting in Britain.

-Don’t forget to check the tide times to make sure you arrive at low tide, for the best chances of success.


Helpful illustrated guides and real examples are close to the life guards’ station at Dunraven Bay in Southerndown to help fossil hunters identify their finds.

In Southerndown you are in a great place to begin. It is particularly family friendly without the need for any fancy equipment to start looking – just keen eyes and the time to turn over pebbles on the beach. When you arrive at the Dunraven Bay carpark, head to the right side where there’s lifeguard station in the summer, it looks like a concrete base in the winter months. You’ll find a large illustrated guide to the coastline with real examples embedded into the display. You can see exactly what you are looking for, some visitors have also left specimens beside the guide so you can pick them up and examine them freely.

Another place to learn about the geology of the coastline is the Heritage Coast Visitors’ Centre, take the road past the Seamouth Shop and toilets, and carry on walking past the Thatched Cottage. It is free entry and provides information boards and touch screens. You can also purchase geology guides here.

Southerndown is a Jurassic coast with blue lias and thin shale bands. The limesones yield lots of bivalves, and some ammonites. A particularly amusing find are gryphaea, common name ‘Devil’s Toenails’ – extinct oysters. An old common folk belief was that having one of these about your person would prevent rheumatism. Keep away from the unstable cliffs and look amongst the rocks at high tide line, or along the shingle for loosened gryphaea. Hammering the bedrock is strictly forbidden as the site is SSSI (Special Site of Scientific Interest), and the hardness of the stone makes it impractical to extract the fossils from bedrock without damage.



Park near West Barn towards the edge of Southendown. Take the path down towards the little valley towards the coastline, follow the grassy paths to the right westwards from Southerndown into Ogmore-By-Sea. As you see the town of Porthcawl in view to the west, you will come across a sandy bay with many smaller stones amongst the pitted bedrock.

Look here, and you will find corals, echinoids and fossilised plants. Most of the fossils here are embedded in blue lias, so just take photos of the specimens in the larger stones and boulders and leave them for others to admire.