Portland is joined to the mainland by just a thin strip at the southern end of the sweeping arc of Chesil Beach. The Isle of Portland is the Jurassic Coast’s most southerly point. Its isolated location and beautiful scenery make it a real explorer’s island, while the comparatively mild climate enables a wide variety of flora and fauna to thrive.
The best way to explore this fascinating island is on foot. The South West Coast Path loops around the island, and there is an excellent network of inland pathways giving superb access to a wide variety of features. The buildings on the island are rich in history, while Portland Bill at the southern tip features no fewer than three lighthouse structures. Only one of these remains operational, and includes a recently refurbished visitor centre.
Many parts of the island, including the whole of the coastline, are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon are of international conservation importance and home to nearly 300 species of bird, over 30 species of butterfly and 720 species of moth. Chesil Beach itself has intrigued geologists for centuries and is one of the finest examples of a barrier beach anywhere in the world. The excellent Chesil Beach Centre tells the story of the region’s unique geology.
How to Get There
There are regular bus services from Weymouth to Portland. The nearest railway station is Weymouth, about four miles north of the island, which connect to Dorchester, stations in Purbeck, and runs directly to London Waterloo. By road the island is reached via the A354 which runs south from Dorchester.
Where to Stay
We recommend the beautiful Heights Hotel, which offers stunning 360 degree views across the island. We also suggest booking a cottage with one of our brilliant local Business Partners such as Dream Cottages, Dorset Coastal Cottages or holidaycottages.co.uk.
Things to do on and around Portland
Chesil Beach Centre
At The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre, you can learn more about the formation of this huge barrier beach and the rich wildlife and history associated with it. There is a bridge from the Centre across the Fleet Lagoon to the great beach. The ‘Fleet Observer’ runs daily boat trips on the Fleet Lagoon in the summer months, weather permitting.
Portland makes a superb year-round walking destination. It is criss-crossed by accessible walking paths that take in its spectacular geology and panoramic views. Pick yourself up an OS Map from our online shop to begin your Portland adventure.