A novice fossil hunter immerses himself in the local pastime in the town of Lyme Regis in southwest England, an area that sits on a 95-mile stretch of shoreline known as the Jurassic Coast, a Unesco World Heritage site.
On an early morning last June, I hit the streets of Lyme Regis dressed in a borrowed pair of Wellington boots and an anorak, hood cinched around my face against a cold wind. Sheets of rain had turned the steep streets of the historictown into rivulets, and the surrounding hilltops were shrouded in a dense, milky fog, known locally as Rousdon Mist. It was high summer on England’s southwest coast.
A frigid dip in the English Channel was out of the question, likewise a run on the rocky beach, but the otherwise dispiriting weather made for ideal conditions for a fossil hunt on the shoreline surrounding Lyme Regis, one of the most fertile fossil-hunting grounds in England, if not the world.
My wife, Flora, has become inured to the novelty of a beach littered with primeval relics. She grew up near Lyme Regis in an old rectory building.