Weymouth and the Isle of Portland are joined by the world famous, 18 mile long, Chesil Beach – did you know that the further east you go along Chesil Beach, the larger the pebbles? Start in West Bay and the shingle is no bigger than a pea, walk to Portland and the pebbles are bigger than your fist! Legend has it that at night, local smugglers could tell exactly where they were by feeling the size of the pebbles. In 1898, John Meade Faulkner wrote about the beach and the days of smuggling in his famous novel Moonfleet, made into a film by Fritz Lang in 1955.
A good start to find out about the amazing geology and wildlife is the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre on Chesil Beach. In Weymouth there are trails to follow at Lodmoor Country Park (both Lodmoor and Radipole Lake are RSPB bird reserves. Portland’s extensive network of footpaths makes it easy for visitors to explore.
There is a Legacy Trail which will help visitors to discover the ‘Wild side of Weymouth’ – you can do the whole trail (about 20km) or visit all the main sites by bicycle, bus or car and do the circular walk from each way point. A Portland wildlife pack is available at interpretation centres along the way and there’s a downloadable booklet with children’s activities.
For walkers and cyclists, the Rodwell Trail is a level route that follows the track bed of the old Weymouth to Portland Railway. There are four old Railway Stations and Halts along the way, all of which have the British Railways Totem name signs displayed on the platforms (this trail forms part of the longer National Cycle Network Route 26 which offers twelve miles of traffic free cycling between Portland and Dorchester).