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Golden Cap is a hill and cliff situated between Bridport and Charmouth in Dorset, England. The cliffs are the highest point on the south coast of Great Britain. The name derives from the distinctive outcropping of golden greensand rock present at the very top of the cliff.
The hill is owned by the National Trust and forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. The Jurassic Coast is 153 kilometres (95 mi) in length, running from Orcombe Point near Exmouth, in the west, to Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck, in the east . The coastal exposures along the coastline provide a continuous sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rock formations spanning approximately 185 million years of the Earth's history. The Jurassic Coast contains a large range of important fossil sites.
Golden Cap stands at 191 metres (627 ft) and is visible for tens of miles along the coastline. The hill is accessible via a coastal footpath from Seatown, and takes around 40 minutes to reach the summit. Behind the cliff is Langdon Wood, a small wood of mainly Corsican Pine, planted in the 1950s, whose trees originate from a nearby copse known as "Eleanor's Clump". Langdon is owned by the National Trust, and encompasses a circular walk of approximately one mile.
The base of the cliff is festooned with large boulders, and is popular with fossil collectors. Recently, following a storm, many fossilised ammonites and belemnites were exposed in the Blue Lias base. The base of the cliff is accessible through Chideock Beach, (Seatown) or Charmouth. Extreme caution must be taken when visiting the base of Golden Cap, as the tide completely covers the beach. A secondary danger is rock falls, especially in high winds and after heavy rains. This is due to the heavier (some up to 20 tonnes) boulders being lodged high up in much softer and more easily eroded lias. For the same reasons, walking on the top of the cliff requires caution.
The cliff path from Chideock Beach up towards the summit of Golden Cap has recently[when?] been closed to protect public safety, as the area is prone to coastal erosion and landslip. A diversionary route runs from the village of Seatown. Photographs of the cliff, from as early as 1890, indicate the substantial extent of erosion and sea encroachment.