The Jurassic Coast is Exmouth’s crowing glory, and a must-visit if you’re on holiday in the area.
The coast begins with Orcombe Point, which is the official beginning of this 95 mile stretch, which sits just above the cliffs at the end of Exmouth Beach, making it one of Exmouth’s best activities.
At Orcombe point, there’s a geoneedle, a little information about the coastline, and of course, it’s the starting point for lots of Jurassic Coast walks.
I’m an Exmouth local, and I can walk to the geoneedle from my house. Here’s my full guide with all you need to know about visiting the spot!
What is Orcombe Point?
Orcombe Point is the furthest west point of the Jurassic Coastline, a 95 mile stretch of ancient coast stretching from Studland Bay in the east to right here in the west!
What is the Jurassic Coast?
If you’re reading this and thinking hang on, what is the Jurassic Coast? Here’s a quick explanation!
The Jurassic Coast is England’s only natural World Heritage Site, and it’s an ancient coastline that dates back to up to 250 million years.
However, it’s actually the only place in the world where you can see rocks from the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods in one place!
When you’re walking through the Jurassic Coast, you’re literally walking through time, and analysing the rocks can tell stories about where continents moved and where landscapes were formed. It’s unsurprising that it’s one fo the best places in Europe for fossil collecting!
Even if you aren’t too interested in geology, the epic views from the cliffs and wonderful hidden beaches are absolutely mesmerising, making this definitely one of the best places to visit in Devon and Dorset.
While the Jurassic Coastline extends all the way into East Dorset, the oldest section is actually right here near Exmouth in Devon!
Where is Orcombe Point?
As we mentioned, it’s right at the end of the Jurassic Coast!
It sits to the east of Exmouth Beach and overlooks the gorgeous coastline.
To reach it, walk right to the end of Exmouth Beach, then turn left and walk up the switchbacks to reach the top of the cliffs.
Then, follow the South West Coast Path for about 500 metres to reach the Geoneedle.
You’ll pass a National Trust sign that welcomes you to Orcombe Point, and soon see the Geoneedle looming, marking the official beginning of the South West Coastal Path!
Things to see at Orcombe Point
Here are the main things to do at Orcombe Point!
The geoneedle was unveiled by King Charles (when he was Prince Charles) in 2002, when the World Heritage Site was opened. It is the only natural World Heritage Site in England, so this is very momentous!
It’s made from different rocks that are found along this stretch of coastline. These are:
- Permian sandstone: A red rock which was laid down 300 – 250 million years ago when this area was a desert.
- White lias and Blue lias: These are two types of limestone layered between shale and then clay.
- Ham hill: This is a a type of limestone.
- Forest marble: This is a a hard, sedimentary limestone.
- Portland stone: This is a type of white limestone created in warmer seas.
- Purbeck marble: This is a limestone that contains fossils and is formed from snail shells.
- Beer stone: This is a white limestone with a finer texture.
Hopscotch to the geonoodle
There’s a hopscotch leading up to the geoneedle, and by hopscotching up to it, you can jump through the layers of time! Great if you have kids and want to teach them about this coastline.
Views over Exmouth
Of course, part of the reason for visiting Orcombe Point is for the incredible views. The town of Exmouth sits to the east, and you can see incredible vistas of the sea in front of you.
Just please, please don’t get too close to the cliff edges – stay as close as possible to the Geoneedle, especially when visibility is low.
There are frequent cliff falls in this area and the cliffs can be very dangerous!
Walk to Exmouth
If you’ve walked from Budleigh Salterton or Devon Cliffs, you might not be aware of how pleasant the short stroll to Exmouth is!
Follow the South West Coastal Path and take the switchback route down to the end of the beach.
You can also keep walking along the high ground until you reach stairs going down or Foxhole Drive, which also leads down to the beach and The Maer.
It’s definitely one of my favourite walks in Exmouth!
Walk to Devon Cliffs
Likewise, the walk to Devon Cliffs is worth doing if you haven’t already been there!
To reach Devon Cliffs, simply walk away from the Geoneedle in an easterly direction and follow the acorn signs of the South West Coast Path.
Keep the sea on your right, and you’ll eventually reach the Haven park.
If you want a longer walk, you could extend the route and walk all the way to Budleigh Salterton.
Orcombe Point walk
There’s a circular route that you can take from Orcombe Point, along the South West Coast Path and behind the coast through Devon Cliffs, then back to Orcombe Point.
This is a great way to see this beautiful part of the ancient coastline.
You can also start this walk at Devon Cliffs or Exmouth Beach, as it encompasses both of these spots too – but I’ll start it from Orcombe Point!
Here are the steps to take:
- Begin at Orcombe Point and start walking eastwards, towards Exmouth Beach.
- Follow the South West Coast Path down the cliffs – there’s a switchback trail which will take you down to the end of the beach.
- Walk towards the Maer, famous for being a very biodiverse area, the perfect place for a picnic if the beach is too windy or sandy, and home to Exmouth’s rusty pole.
- Then, turn onto Queen’s Drive and walk for about one kilometre until you reach the turning for Gore Lane.
- This is a very narrow country lane – cars do come down the road, so be careful, but they are infrequent.
- Follow Gore Lane for around 2 kilometres until you reach Devon Cliffs.
- Walk through the Haven park, towards the coast and pick up the coastal path heading back towards Orcombe Point.
- Follow the path for just over 1 kilometre to get back to Orcombe point!
The whole route is about 4.3 miles or 7 kilometres.
Other things to do near Orcombe Point
The most obvious thing to do near Orcombe is Exmouth Beach. This is a two-mile-long stretch of sand with tonnes of attractions, restaurants, watersports opportunities and pubs. Even in winter, it’s a great place to visit!
Budleigh Salterton is also worth visiting – the beach here is pebbly, but it’s still beautiful! You can also walk up the Otter River to Otterton.