Walk - Abbotsbury to Ferrybridge (Weymouth)

10.9 miles (17.5 km)

Abbotsbury Ferrybridge (Weymouth)

Easy - Easy

The South West Coast Path climbs inland slightly from the historic village of Abbotsbury, passing woodland and open, rolling fields until dropping to follow the West Dorset Heritage Coast along the shores of the Fleet Lagoon to Ferry Bridge. This section of the Jurassic Coast is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the views of Chesil Beach and the Fleet are truly unique. Stories of a past of smuggling and wrecking add another level to the rich history of the area, and a reference to this is seen in the Moonfleet Manor Hotel (a good spot for refreshments) named after
J.M. Falkner’s novel Moonfleet in which he describes a lake of brackish water full of “sea-fowl, herons, and oysters ... shut off from the open Channel by a monstrous great beach or dike of pebbles”. Continue on a peaceful walk along the edge of the Fleet, passing a couple of areas of MOD land, until finally reaching urban landscapes on the edge of Weymouth and Ferry Bridge, which marks the beginning of the route across to the rugged Isle of Portland.

Interactive Elevation

Highlights

  • The historic village of Abbotsbury: there is much to see and do here, including taking a walk round the Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens, browsing the art and craft galleries and exploring the great Tithe Barn and ruins of the Abbey.
  • Views down to the hundreds of swans at Abbotsbury Swannery on the edge of the Fleet Lagoon.
  • Chesil Beach: this extraordinary natural ridge of pebbles extends for over 17 miles from West Bay to Portland and is thought to be between 4000 and 7000 years old. Many ships have been lost along this stretch of coast, which was renamed ‘Dead Man’s Cove’ by Thomas Hardy who was born in Dorset.
  • Walking down the small valley to Rodden Hive and reaching the Fleet Lagoon.
  • The Fleet Lagoon: at 8 miles (13 km) long, this is the largest tidal lagoon in Britain and a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to the extraordinarily rich variety of wildlife found here, including 150 species of algae and underwater meadows of eelgrasses. All this vegetation supports a vast number of birds, making this walk especially enjoyable for bird lovers.
  • The view from Langton Hive Point over Chesil Bank to the sea.
  • The tiny church at East Fleet. In 1824 a great storm caused the seas to break the banks and destroy most of the building, leaving just the chancel behind.
  • Butterstreet Cove: this is one of the largest coves on the Fleet and is often visited by Whooper swans.
  • The dramatic views to the Isle of Portland. The distinctive Portland Limestone was used to build St Paul’s Cathedral, the Bank of England and the United Nations Building in New York.
  • Ferry Bridge: here, the eastern end of the bank of Chesil Beach forms a 40ft high Tombolo which is a bar of shingle connecting the mainland to the Isle of Portland. Before bridges were built here, people and animals made the rather treacherous crossing over the gap between the Fleet and Portland Harbour by a small ferry which was pulled across using ropes. Alternatively, they walked all the way from Abbotsbury along the pebbles of Chesil Bank, which had obvious dangers and was an incredibly long way if you were setting off from Weymouth!
  • Choosing a place to rest and enjoy refreshments at the end of the day at Ferry Bridge or in Weymouth. Sunsets can be truly spectacular here as light reflects on both the Fleet and the sea.

Places of interest

  • Abbotsbury Swannery: originally established by Benedictine monks, the Swannery is open to the public daily from March to November. See Abbotsbury Swannery for details of ‘Mass Feeding Time’ and other events.
  • Climb to the 15th century St Catherine’s Chapel near Abbotsbury. The chapel served as an important beacon for seafarers, which is probably what secured its survival during Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.
  • Enjoy a trip on the Fleet Observer: a shallow glass bottomed boat which offers a very special view of the reserve. See The Fleet Observer for details.

Shorter option

You could walk out a distance and then return to Abbotsbury, otherwise you will have to find accommodation inland at Langton Herring or in the suburbs of Weymouth.

Longer option

Continue on to the Isle of Portland.

Nearby refreshments

There are pubs inland at Langton Herring and at the end of the journey at Ferrybridge. Just beyond Gore Cove is The Moonfleet Manor Hotel and Restaurant which offers refreshments and you may also find facilities at the holiday centre at Lynch Cove. There are many other shops, cafes, restaurants and pubs in and around Weymouth.

Public transport

The nearest train station is Weymouth. There is also a mainline train station in the cathedral city of Exeter. The Jurassic Coast X53 runs from Exeter to Abbotsbury and continues on to Langton Herring, Chickerell, Charlestown and Weymouth. For timetable information, zoom in on the interactive map and click on the train station and bus stop symbols, visit Traveline or phone 0871 200 22 33.

Parking

Abbotsbury and Ferrybridge.

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