Portland Castle overlooks the harbour and is one of Henry VIII’s finest coastal forts, built in the early 1540s to protect against French and Spanish invasion. It is a good day out for visitors with lots to do for families and only four miles from Weymouth.
At Tout Quarry Sculpture Park and Nature Reserve, you can see sculptures that have been skilfully carved in the rockface and Portland Stone boulders. Interested visitors can follow the original horse-drawn tramway that carried wooden wagons of stone to the dock, ready for shipping.
Portland Bill is a very special place for wildlife and geology and the Portland Bird Observatory is a bird-watchers paradise. The fastest animal on earth, the Peregrine Falcon, breeds here; and of Britain’s 2,500 species of moth, over 800 have been recorded here, as well as over half of Britain’s different species of butterfly!
At the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre visitors can learn more about this natural wonder – 180 billion pebbles stretching for 18 miles along the Dorset Coast – as well as the Fleet, one of the most wildlife-rich lagoons in the country.
National Sailing Academy provides purpose built on-shore facilities for sailing of all kinds and provided part of the venue for the sailing competition at the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Portland Museum was founded in 1930 – author Thomas Hardy made it the home of ‘Avice’, the heroine in his novel The Wellbeloved. It is in the hamlet of Wakeham above Church Ope Cove and tells the story of local industry, the Sea, the Prisons and the People. If you have visitors with children, suggest a walk down to Church Ope Cove, where there is a 13th Century Church and pirate graveyard where smuggling legends were born.
Finally, on the very tip of Portland Bill stands a functioning lighthouse, warning coastal traffic of the treacherous Shambles Bank under the sea.