Bill Verkaik, Founder of Junior Geo loves living on the Jurassic Coast. After 20 years of working in the oil business in London, Bill and his family have returned to Dorset to rekindle the romance with his first passion – fossils!
We asked Bill to share what he loves about a day’s fossil hunting with us at Summer Lodge over a steaming cup of tea and some delicious home-baked cakes.
“The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site and when you come on a fossil hunt you can really see why. The natural beauty, dramatic scenery and the famous ‘golden’ cliffs make a visit to the coast an experience in itself and that is before you’ve even thought about a fossil.
Fossils are found along the coast in rocks which were formed 250 to 65 million years ago and can be of anything from leaves, shells to small skeletons or bones and I very rarely goes out without finding fossils of one kind or another.
Our normal fossil hunting days begins on the beach with a short introduction about what to look for – recent rock falls and cliff falls, the types of rocks to look for and how to use the equipment and of course safety. Then it’s time to start hunting. Slowly, is the best way to discover the fossils and once you know some tips and practice it gets easier. It’s a matter of ‘getting your eye in’ and after some experience it’s amazing what you start to find, I can see fossil-bearing stones that most other people walk over. A bit like looking for razor clams on the beach – once you know what you’re looking for it becomes far easier and there’s nothing like the excitement of an ‘unearthing a fossil’ discovery. You get the sense that you are the first person to have seen this creature since it died some 190 million years ago!
But what I also find so wonderful about fossil hunting is when you see people of all ages getting stuck in and enjoying themselves. It’s a real family activity and perfect for wet and windy days as the rain creates loads of newly uncovered rocks that are so soft you can just pull them apart to find fossils.
We normally spend about for 3-4 hours walking along the beach, but people can peel off whenever they want. Some bring a picnic and spend the afternoon on the beach, and some move on to the pub for some well-earned refreshments!
But don’t forget the day doesn’t end there. You can take your finds home, clean them up, and display them proudly. A piece of history… you’ve discovered yourself…it’s priceless!”
You can contact Summer Lodge to arrange your very own fossil hunting adventure, the perfect way to build an appetite for one of their delicious dinners.