Our adventure began one day during half term, leaving Poole and heading to the chain link ferry for a short trip over to Shell Bay, Studland, with two very excited boys. Our first stop was the iconic Corfe Castle, dominating the Purbeck landscape. This provided the boys an excellent opportunity to let off steam, exploring the ruins and taking part in various half term activities, including ziplining teddies.  No sign of any dinosaurs, just Saxon knights. After a visit to the cosy tea-room for a quick cuppa and lunch, we headed off in the direction of Kimmeridge Bay and the Jurassic Coast.

Driving into Kimmeridge Village, you cannot miss the impressive Purbeck stone building, home to The Etches Collection, with over 2,400 fossils. The first part of our dinosaur hunt began here. We were greeted by Carla and the friendly team, who are bursting with knowledge and a passion for the extensive fossil collection. The boys were given an iPad containing an interactive quiz that brought key exhibits alive, including one very hungry looking T-Rex in 3D animation. The main room has a mesmerizing display of sea monsters and prehistoric predators collected by Dr Steve Etches MBE from the Kimmeridge Bay locality. The content of the exhibits is not overwhelming for children and held their attention for well over an hour. Once we finished exploring the main exhibition, we headed into the Discovery Room, where the boys could investigate fossils, shells and rocks up close using a microscope and try their hand at excavating the fossil remains of a fish. The room is well laid out with plenty of activities for any budding palaeontologist.

No trip to a museum is complete without a trip to the shop, this time to purchase a shark’s tooth and fossil shell, to impress classmates.  

The museum is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm (closed 24th, 25th and 26th December) A family ticket is £20.00 and extremely good value as it’s valid for 12 months, so you can go back as many times as you like.  To book tickets visit

Impressed by finding a 3D T-Rex and various other prehistoric beasts, the boys were keen to head down to the Bay and explore the shore for their own fossils or spot a dinosaur footprint. To access the Bay, you need to pay £5 to access the toll road.  Once parked up we headed down to the beach and stopped by the Wild Seas Centre run by Dorset Wildlife Trust where you can learn more about the marine and seashore wildlife along the coast.

Before the fossil hunting began, we read a copy of the fossil collection guide. You may collect any loose fossils from the foreshore, however - you should abide by the DEFRA/JNCC “Fossil Collectors Code”. There are other localities where you may be able to use a hammer and chisel on loose rocks and nodules, however Kimmeridge is not one of them. We set off and soon discovered several ammonites in the loose shale.

After a couple of hours searching, we headed off to Swanage with two happy boys for some well-earned Fish and Chips.

With the light fading it was time to head for the ferry and back to Poole ready for the next half term adventure.

An image of an Etches display in Dorset

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