A charming walk on the Portland Peninsula

The Isle of Portland is a 6 km tied island linked to the mainland by the long Chesil Beach. This is the Southest point of the Jurassic Coast and due to its isolated position and mild climate, it features a lush flora and a rich wildlife. This area is famous for its quarries, birdwatching, sailing and it was one a Navy Military base.

This circular walk allows you to spend 4 -5 hours walking on a scenic coastal path passing through wild beaches, steep ridge paths on the cliffs, exploring woodland and the Portland Bill, an imposing lighthouse overlooking the English Channel.

This circular walk is recommended for all hiking levels (even if the walk is quite long) and for people seeking spectacular views, wild beaches with crystal waters and to admire the beauty of the English nature!

Here is the Google Map’s map :

Facts About the Hike

Distance: 13 miles/ 20.9 km (it depends where you start the hike)
Elevation Gain: 340 meters
Time: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: moderate
Map: The hiking trails are well marked and easy to follow. Download the “All trails” app to see the full map and directions
When to go: This hike is at its best during the spring and summer months.
Bring: Hiking shoes, water, snacks or lunch, a waterproof light jacket (remember you are in UK!), and of course, your camera.

Getting to the start of the hike

By Car: it depends where you come from. Park your car at the Ferrybridge Carpark if you want to do the full circle or leave it near the Grove prison Museum to shorten the walk of an hour or two. You can leave your car at any of these 4 points according to the length of the hike: Ferrybridge, Portland Heights, Grove Prison Museum, Portland Bill and above Church Ope Cove.

By Train: From Bath is takes two hours to get reach Weymouth and then you need to take the bus 1 from the Kings square towards the Isle of Portland which will take you there in 10 minutes.

On the trail

I started this hike from the Grove Prison Museum, a little interesting place located within the former deputy governor’s house which was the original prison gatehouse. Here you can see the beginning of the coastal path leading you to a cliff path with spectacular views over the sea and little coves. The best cove to stop by for a picnic, walking or see the iconic beach huts is Church Ope Cove, a rocky secluded beach taking the name after the medieval church and gardens nearby. Here there is also a free little car park from where you could potentially start the hike. Have a quick look at Rufus Castle ruins too nearby and enjoy some nice views.

Go South and continue following the path until you reach the famous Portland Bill, a red and white imposing lighthouse featuring an interesting museum and panoramic views once you climbed the 153 steps to the top! The Portland Bird Observatory can be found within the old lighthouse and from here you can see multiple nesting birds such as peregrines, guillemots, fulmars and kittiwakes.

There is also a variety of B&B to stay the night if you want to make your coastal escape a bit longer or some seafood restaurants to experience some local fresh fish before continuing your hike!

Continue your walk passing past the Blacknor Fort, a popular area for rock climbers, and reach the Circle of Stone, an limestone quarry area. End your hike reaching the Chesil beach end point or to the Olympic Rings Monument in honour to the sailing Olympic games which took place here in 2012. If you feel particularly energetic or you have a car, go until the Portland Marina where the Sailing centre is located and visit the Portland Castle, an interesting fort where you can enjoy views over the harbour.

More information about hiking in Dorset

If this walk inspired you to explore this astonishing natural area even further, have a look at the guide for the best panoramic hikes in Dorset. Whatever your level or preferences are, these guides will inspire you to find your next favourite trail!

Check out my others favourite hikes in the UK in my “Hikes” section.

Dorset: 40 Coast and Country 50 Walks in Dorset (AA 50 Walks Series) Dorset Outstanding Circular Walks (Pathfinder Guides)