Walk - Legacy Trail 5 - Around Hamm and Chesil Beaches

4.2 miles (6.7 km)

Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Fine Foundation - Chesil Beach Centre - DT4 9XE Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Fine Foundation - Chesil Beach Centre

Moderate - Most of the walk is on fairly level ground but walking along the shingle ridge is hard. You may like to do some and then rejoin the Coast Path. It is possible to get down to the pavement at any point along this part of the route.

A level walk from Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre along Hamm Beach past the National Sailing Academy and Portland Castle. Return to the Centre from Chesil Cove and back along Chesil Beach along the shingle ridge.

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Still Waters - Dream Cottages

Stunning holiday cottage with unrivalled location with views over Portland Harbour & Fleet Lagoon.

Alessandria Hotel

Friendly and comfortable with good old fashioned values. Quiet location, free wi-fi, established 25 years.  Please call Giovanni on 01305 822270.

Harbour Lights Guest House

Lovely house with views of Portland harbour/Chesil beach. Bus to Weymouth/Portland every 10 mins. 15 min walk Brewers Quay, 3 mins rodwell trail. Parking on site

Maribels B&B

Maribel's provides homely accommodation, comfortable rooms and a relaxed atmosphere. We will make your stay an enjoyable one.

What is on your list of things to do when you visit the Path? From walking companies, to help you tailor your visit, with itineraries and experts to enhance your visit, to baggage transfer companies and visitor attractions there are lots to people and places to help you decide what you'd like to do. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Coastal Walks UK

Coastal Walks are a fantastic way to see beautiful landscapes and explore stunning coastlines. Charity fundraising events, team building and bespoke coastal breaks.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From Dorset Wildlife Trust’s Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre cross over the road to Hamm Beach via the boardwalk and follow the South West Coast Path and Legacy Trail towards the sailing academy.

This is the bed of the former Weymouth and Portland railway which opened in 1865, finally closing in 1962. There are lovely views across Portland Harbour and the Jurassic Coast. In spring and summer, the fragile coastal grassland is full of wild flowers such as sea pink, yellow rattle and wild carrot.

Small wading birds feed along the shore edge and sea squirts may be seen in the shallows.

  1. Follow the Coast Path through the sailing academy complex where refreshments are available.

Look across to the Mulberrys, (large concrete blocks), examples of those used to create a temporary harbour during the D Day landings (WW2). The massive breakwaters (19th century) were constructed using stone from the island and convict labour.

Looking towards the island, you can see a steep, straight path, the Merchant’s Incline, part of a horse -drawn railway for transporting stone down from quarries to the harbour. It is now the route of the South West Coast Path leading up to the Verne Citadel, a Victorian fort, now a prison.

  1. At Portland Castle you can follow the South West Coast Path and Legacy Trail up onto the island, joining circular walk 6, or continue with this walk.

From here, follow the road pavement back towards Chesil Bank and the east side of the Island. At Victoria Square roundabout follow the Coast Path signs to Chesil Cove.

Look out for the yellow-horned poppies with their long seed pods, left to grow on the roundabout. You may like to stop off at the Chiswell Walled Garden.

From Chesil Cove there are dramatic views of the West Weares cliffs, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. It’s very dynamic with landslides creating the landscape you see today. Quarries at the top of the cliffs are hidden from view. Vast quantities of waste stone have literally been thrown over the edge here. Many plants, butterflies, moths and birds live on the West Weares, including a plant unique to Portland.

You could linger on the John Maine sculpture (1993). Made from dry stone wall of local stone, it pays tribute to the quarrymen and masons who have worked with Portland stone for generations. The five wave-like terraces represent the five layers of stone as they occur naturally in a Portland quarry.

Chesil Cove gets the full force of the Atlantic and is the site of many shipwrecks. It lies at the end of Chesil Bank, the great storm beach or ‘tombolo’ connecting Portland to the mainland which stretches for 17 miles. Here the beach is at its highest with the largest pebbles.

Out in the Cove, it has been described as an underwater fairyland with abundant marine life living amongst the shipwrecks.

The appearance of the Cove changed dramatically with the construction of the Sea Wall and Promenade (1958 to 1965), which stabilized a massive landslide.

Rock samphire, once pickled and used to prevent scurvy by sailors grows out of the walls.

  1. From Chesil Cove you can either follow the Coast Path back to the Fine Foundation Chesil Centre, keeping on the shingle bank side or crossing over to Hamm beach if preferred. For the more adventurous you may want to walk back along the shingle ridge (about a mile of hard walking!)

It’s hard to get a foothold on the shingle and this is the same for plants and animals. Waves pound the ridges changing their shape and washing up clues to what lives out at sea; common dog whelk egg cases or ‘seawash’ balls, the remains of spider crabs, cuttlefish internal skeletons and pink sea fans. Unfortunately, there’s also marine litter -regular beach cleans are carried out and many artists source materials from here.

On a clear day you can look out across Lyme Bay and see as far as Start Point in South Devon.

Discover more about Chesil Beach and its wildlife at the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre. You can look for birds on the Fleet lagoon and see underwater by a camera linked to the centre.

Parking

 Parking is pay and display at the Chesil Beach Centre.

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