Walk - Isle of Portland Circuit – Part 1
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The best place to start this walk is at Portland Heights where there is a great view looking down on Poole Harbour and along the entire length of Chesil Beach.
- Follow the path westwards past the war memorial and down a zig-zag path to cross the main road close to the ‘The Spirit of Portland’ – a sculpture of a quarryman and a fisherman.
- Although it is tempting to continue straight ahead to the Coast Path on the cliff, it is worth taking a detour through Tout Quarry with its 40 or so stone sculptures.
Portland is of course famous for its limestone which has been valued as a construction material since Roman times. It has been used on many famous buildings, including Exeter Cathedral, Christchurch Priory, Westminster Palace, the first stone version of London Bridge, St Paul’s Cathedral, the United Nations Building in New York and most recently London’s New Stock Exchange which opened in 2004.
- Once on the coast, the evidence of centuries of quarrying are still evident, as you walk southwards along the old tramways used for transporting the stone. At one point you will pass under an archway of huge blocks that for some reason were never used.
If you are lucky enough to have a particularly clear day, you will be able to see the coastline stretching westwards all the way around to Start Point some 60 miles (92km) away as the seagull flies, but 119 miles (190km) if you follow the Coast Path.
- As you continue along the path following the cliffs you steadily descend until you reach the lighthouse at Portland Bill.
From April to September (11.00–17.00 – except Sat) the lighthouse visitor centre is open, and for a charge you can climb the 153 steps to the top on a guided tour with a former lighthouse keeper. This is also a renowned location (particularly in April and May) for spotting migrating birds and the Old Lower Lighthouse (the all white one) is now a bird observatory.
- From the Bill you can either catch the bus back or continue along the Coast Path around the east coast of Portland – see Around the Isle of Portland part 2 for details.
Café at Portland Bill.
The X10 bus service runs approximately once every hour between Portland Bill and Portland Heights Hotel in the winter, and every 30 minutes in the summer. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the bus stops, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.
New Ground, Portland Heights (Postcode for Sat Navs: DT5 2EN), no facilities.
Portland Bill (Postcode for Sat Navs: DT5 2JT) disabled provision.
Local maps and publications
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