The Fossil Forest on the Jurassic Coast will be re-opened to the public from tomorrow.

The 145 million-year-old ‘forest’ is a key part of the Jurassic Coast’s ‘walk through time’ story. Although no actual trees can be seen, round shapes known as ‘algal burrs’ are clearly visible; these would have surrounded the base of the tree trunks. It is thought that Victorian collectors may have removed the trees for decorative purposes, but no-one is really sure!

The site has been closed since 2015 when a large rockfall damaged the steps leading from the South West Coast Path down to the site. The rockfall also left a dangerous ‘overhang’ which has now been partially removed and netted by geo-technical experts with the addition of a catch-fence.

Dorset Council Highways undertook the work to repair the 97 steps and replace the railings when the Ranges were open in summer 2019. The project also included the creation of a new seating and interpretation area near the top of the steps with stunning views out to sea. Albion Stone kindly donated two large pieces of fossilised wood which are on display in the seating area and Bournemouth Christchurch Poole Council donated the recycled timber decking. Local Dorset architect, Aileen Shackell Landscape Design, was responsible for the design of the new access and seating area.

The work was funded in the main by the Coastal Communities Fund, with additional funding from Lulworth Estate, the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (part of the MOD), the Arts Development Company, the Geological Association and Dorset Council.

James Weld of the Lulworth Estate said: “We are delighted the Fossil Forest is accessible once again and were pleased to work closely with all parties involved, to ensure the visitor experience will be of great value, both as an educational tool and as somewhere to visit on this unique and stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

James Nevitt, Senior Access & Recreation Advisor said; “The MOD is committed to protecting our heritage and is always keen to engage in positive collaborative working to deliver a positive outcome. We recognise the significance of this site and it is fantastic to see it reopened after what has been a complex project to deliver.”

The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team led on the Fossil Forest project in partnership with Lulworth Estate, Defence Infrastructure Organisation, The Arts Development Company, Dorset Coast Forum and the Jurassic Coast Trust.

This globally important site is located to the east of Lulworth Cove, within the Lulworth ranges. As with the rest of the Ranges, the Fossil Forest is open most weekends and school holidays but always check before visiting

*Please follow all official health advice regarding the Coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The advice is changing regularly and rapidly, so please check NHS and websites before you set out. Please note, to see the Fossil Forest, there are 97 steps down – and back up!