I had been looking forward to doing a circuit of the “isle” of Portland for some time, although I had previously visited Portland on a University field trip back in 1973. I parked close to the Ferrybridge Hotel and set off on the footpath along the A354, the only road linking Portland. The road was very busy with early morning traffic going in both directions.
The footpath soon merged with the fabulous Chesil Beach or Chesil Bank, a tombolo of shingle running for 18 miles, parallel with the coastline. I climbed up onto the bank, but walking over the shingle was very hard work and so I reverted to the footpath. The bank eventually joined Portland at Chiswell, where houses first appeared. The path climbed up a steep path behind the houses and eventually emerged at the old Tout Limestone Quarry, now a sculpture park. I was fascinated by the animal sculptures strewn about the quarry. I could see work already in progress – a fantastic use of the quarry. The view back down and along Chesil Beach was amazing.
I continued above the limestone cliffs of the west coast, passing through old quarries and gradually descending towards the southern tip of Portland Bill. I passed above rock-climbers honing their skills on West Cliff. I passed the first of three lighthouses on this part of the island and rounded Portland Bill.
The path continued north hugging the shore. The east side of Portland is low-lying and was extensively quarried for its valuable stone. There were many industrial remnants of the previous quarrying, including large wooden winches for moving the stone. After passing through the Southwell landslip, the land rose to form steeper cliffs. Most of the NE part of Portland is still given over to MOD and I missed a SWCP sign instructing me to go uphill. When I did find my way up the steep side of the hill I emerged close to one of a small number of quarries still operating on Portland. The path continued onto HMP The Verne, where I walked around the high perimeter security fencing. I walked on towards Portland Castle and followed the road back to Chiswell to rejoin my earlier route. As I had already walked out to Portland I caught a bus back to my car at Ferrybridge.
Distance today = 13 miles
Total distance = 275 miles