Friends of Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre Visit to Chesil Beach and Portland

On Tuesday, May 17th thirteen Friends left Charmouth car park and drove in our cars to the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre at Ferrybridge.  Here we stopped for a coffee and had time to look around this unique coastal environment in the pleasant sunshine. This visiting centre is leased to Dorset Wildlife Trust, and offers interactive displays with information on the local marine and terrestrial wildlife, and the Jurassic Coast. It was interesting to know Chesil was not man- made, nor as popular belief would have it, thrown up in a single night by a raging sea.  It was created by eroded debris, following the last ice age.Friends of CHCC

We then drove about half a mile along Portland Beach Road, to the Fleet Observer.  This is a boat which leaves the jetty behind the Ferrybridge Inn.  Here we enjoyed an hour long trip to explore the Chesil Bank and the Fleet Lagoon. This Fleet Lagoon is England’s largest lagoon, and the richest in wildlife in the U.K. It stretches 8 miles with the saltier water east towards the Portland end.

We saw several Little Terns resting on the buoys. These are summer visitors from Africa. The shallow water of the Lagoon supplies them with fish.  We spotted a Little Egret feeding on the small fish. This bird was once a very rare visitor from the Mediterranean.  Our guide informed us it was first recorded in the U.K. on Brownsea  Island in 1996. We also saw Oystercatchers, Shelduck flying over, and other birds. We were told that Brown Hares live and forage on Chesil Beach. We did not see any, as they are often camouflaged among the pebbles, but the Wednesday group were lucky enough to see some.

Our next stop was Portland Bill, where Jan. had reserved tables at The Lobster Pot for a welcome lunch.

Friends of CHCCFinally, we drove in our cars to Portland Museum at Wakeham, where we visited the two 17th century thatched cottages with five galleries and a secluded garden.  Portland Museum is an Arts Council Accredited Museum founded in 1930 by palaeobotanist and birth control pioneer Dr. Marie Stopes, its first curator. Her friend was Dorset author Thomas Hardy. We found so much to see.  It is Portland’s rich history all in one place.  Shipwrecks and the Sea, Archaeology, Jurassic Coast Fossils, Portland Stone, Local Customs and Traditions, Victorian floor tiles, Toys and Games of bygone days, Railways, Windmills, plus detailed information on Thomas Hardy, John Penn and Dr. Marie Stopes.

Twenty four Friends of the CHCC made the same trip on Wednesday 18th May. Our thanks to Jan Coleman who organised these interesting days so successfully.

Mary Davis