Walk - Legacy Trail 3 - Nothe Gardens & Rodwell Trail
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2019. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- Start off at the Jubilee Clock tower. Head along King Street, following the Legacy Trail, past the railway station to the RSPB Wild Weymouth Discovery Centre, the far side of the Swannery Car Park.
Follow this walk for sea, forts, castles and old railway lines and a wide range of wildlife too! One of the joys of Weymouth and Portland is its diverse range of habitats. Pop into the Discovery Centre to:
Check out what wildlife is around the area today, or has been seen recently. Come back another time to do the short Discovery Trail, circular walk 4.
- From the Discovery Centre, turn right and follow the Legacy Trail around the car park walking towards town under the road bridge.
- When you come to Westham Bridge turn right, walk over the bridge and turn right again. Follow the footpath through the underpass and turn left until you emerge at the twin pillars, the start of the Rodwell Trail ahead.
Radipole Lake was tidal estuary until Westham Bridge created the Lake in 1921. It is now freshwater. Back in the early 1800s Abbotsbury Swannery donated a pair of swans to Weymouth and the borough has employed a swan herder ever since.
Walk along the Rodwell Trail.
This is the old track bed of the Weymouth to Portland railway that closed in 1962. It is now a 2 mile long linear park, providing a car free transport route and wildlife corridor. As you walk along, look out for the old station platforms and see how the changing geology has created different plant habitats.
- After passing through two tunnels look out for the turning on the left off the Rodwell Trail to Sandsfoot Castle.
Built by Henry VIII Sandsfoot is gradually falling into Portland Harbour. For more information on the history of the castle see the information boards and ask at the cafe. From here you get a great view of Portland Harbour. If you have binoculars check for wintering birds on the water such as great northern diver and red-breasted merganser.
- The cliffs on this shore are eroding all the time which has meant that the Coast Path now follows the roads, so leave Sandsfoot Castle behind the cafe and follow the South West Coast Path along residential roads until you reach The Nothe Fort.
The Nothe is a promontory with lovely gardens and a Victorian Fort built to defend Portland Harbour. The Gardens are easy to navigate, take the lower sea wall path if you are feeling adventurous, or stay high for a fairly flat ramble. If you venture down to the sea wall at low tide you can even explore the rock pools where you’ll find different species of crab, topshells and anemones and you may even see a sea hare, (one to look up if you’re not sure what it looks like ), which come into the kelp shallows to breed in spring.
Every spring the blackthorns are full of hundreds of warblers that land after migrating across the channel. As you stand looking out to Portland remember back to August 2012 when 4000 people watched the Olympic Sailing Regatta from the very spot you are standing.
- Follow the South West Coast Path signs out of the Nothe and around Weymouth Harbour until you reach the Esplanade.
On Custom House Quay can be seen Weymouth Lifeboat Station. In 1868, the Earl of Strafford offered to fund a lifeboat to replace the one that had been at Portland between 1826 and 1851. The offer was accepted and on the 26 January 1869 the lifeboat station was opened and the town's first lifeboat, the Agnes Harriet, was named at a ceremony held on the sands in front of a large crowd. Today Ernest and Mabel’ and ‘Phyl Clare III’ share around 100 ‘shouts’ a year.
Finaly, you have made it back to Weymouth Bay. Depending on the time of year, tide and weather the beach will either be full of bodies or a wide open expanse of sand to walk along looking for shells. See if you can find more than 5 different types... One of the most staggering things to think about is that, in spite of all the people here on holiday, little spiny seahorses live out in the bay ahead of you!
As you look eastwards along the Jurassic Coast see if you can pick out the various cliffs – there is an interpretation board next to the clock tower to help you.
On the beach you’ll find lots of slipper limpets. Unfortunately, they are not native and are considered to be an invasive species.
Refreshments at the Discovery Centre. and at the Nothe.