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Europe > Britain and Ireland > United Kingdom > England > West Country > Dorset > Isle of Portland

Isle of Portland

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Portland Castle
View of Portland from Weymouth

Portland is a town in Dorset, a county on the south coast of the West Country, in England. Portland is actually an island, even though it is linked to the mainland by Chesil Beach, as Chesil Beach is a shoal beach (not a tombolo).

Many attractions and facilities are available in the nearby town of Weymouth, a short bus ride away. The area is rapidly improving after the closure of the Naval Base in 1995. The London 2012 Olympic sailing events were staged in Portland Harbour.

Understand[edit]

Portland has been a place of human settlement since the Stone Age.

The island is known for its stone that has been taken from the island's seven quarries and been used to build notable structures such as the Cenotaph memorial, Buckingham Palace and St. Paul's Cathedral. In addition to be being exported abroad. Portland Castle and many of the island's other buildings use this local grey stone too.

Despite the island's small size, Portland has been home to three prisons: HMP Portland, HMP Verne and HMP Weare. This makes Portland comparable to Alcatraz, though only the former is being used as a prison.


Isle of Portland
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Get in[edit]

By car[edit]

From the South and London[edit]

Follow the A35 towards Dorchester, but turn off on the junction for the A354 (that has signs for Weymouth). Then follow the signs into the town. Once in Weymouth there are many signs for Portland.

From the Westcountry[edit]

Follow the signs for Bridport, then at the roundabout near Morrisons take the coast road towards Weymouth, or the main road towards Dorchester. Once in Weymouth there are many signs for Portland.

By train[edit]

The nearest train station is 1 Weymouth station. Trains to Weymouth station come direct from London Waterloo and Bristol. Connections can be made from the north by changing trains at London, Bristol or at Southampton. There is a bus stop two minutes from the train station with direct busses to Portland. There is also a taxi rank outside the station.

By coach[edit]

National Express[1] operates a coach service to and from Weymouth's Seafront. Services run to London Victoria, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Brighton, Bristol with connections to other locations from those towns. Once in Weymouth, there is a five minute walk to a bus stop further along the seafront, where buses to Portland depart up to every 7 minutes.

By ferry[edit]

A ferry service by Coastline Cruises operates between Brewer's Quay in Weymouth and both Crabbers Wharf and Portland Marina in Portland, the average journey time is 45 minutes each way. Single fares are £6 for adults and £4 for children. Return fares are £10 adults and £6 for children.

Get around[edit]

Map of Isle of Portland
Chesil Beach and The Fleets

Bus services are provided by both First and South West Coaches on Portland. The main service is route 1, provided by First, which operates every 7/8 minutes on weekdays during the day. The FirstDay ticket, which allows unlimited travel around Portland, Weymouth and Dorchester on the day of purchase on First services, costs £4.10 and can be bought from a driver.

Taxis are relatively inexpensive, the major operator in the area is Portline (+44 1305 821600)

See[edit]

  • 1 Portland Castle, Liberty Road, Castletown, DT5 1AZ (Follow road signs upon arrival on Portland towards Castletown and Portland Castle. Bus services 1, 1X, 7 and X7 serve Victoria Square, approximately ten minutes walk away), +44 1305 820539. Daily 10AM to 5PM (closed during winter, open late nights in summer). Built by Henry VIII in the early 1540s, this castle has played a part in history ever since. This history is portrayed through exhibitions and the building itself. Adults £4.80, children £2.90, concessions £4.30. Portland Castle (Q1638741) on Wikidata Portland Castle on Wikipedia
  • 2 Tout Quarry, Hope Square (follow the main road up until the Portland Heights Hotel, when you will turn right at a roundabout following signs for Tout Quarry; bus services 1 and 1X serve the nearby Portland Heights Hotel, which is approximately 3 minutes walk away), +44 1305 826736. Every day, all day (for walking around the quarry); contact venue for workshop times. This beautiful quarry is full of sculptures that local people have created. It is set on the top of Portland with fantastic views of the Jurassic Coastline. Free entry (workshops have additional fee). Tout Quarry (Q7829416) on Wikidata Tout Quarry on Wikipedia
  • 3 Portland Bill Lighthouse, Most southerly tip of Portland (follow brown tourist signs towards Portland Bill from arrival on Portland; or take bus service 1X), +44 1305 821050. It has interactive displays and historical artefacts and offers the opportunity to encounter a stormy sea journey in the ‘Into The Dark’ zone. Visitors can also climb the lighthouse and see for miles along the beautiful Dorset Coastline, the Jurassic Coast and out to the treacherous Portland Race. Minimum height 1.1 metres tall to climb the tower. Visitor centre: adults £2, child (age 16 & under) free; visitor centre and lighthouse: adults £7, family ticket (2 adults and up to 2 children) £20, child (age 16 & under) £5, concession £6. Portland Bill Lighthouse (Q2753005) on Wikidata Portland Bill Lighthouse on Wikipedia

Museums[edit]

  • 4 Portland Museum, 217 Wakeham, Easton, DT5 1HS, +44 1305 821804. Museum dedicated to Portland's stone, the Jurassic Coast, shipwrecks around the island and famous people linked to the island. Portland Museum, Dorset (Q7231985) on Wikidata Portland Museum, Dorset on Wikipedia
  • 5 Castletown D-Day Centre, Admiralty Buildings, Castletown, DT5 1BD, +44 7850 243675. Sa-Su 10:30AM-3:30PM, M-F closed.
  • 6 Grove Prison Museum, 104 Grove Rd, The Grove, DT5 1DZ, +44 1305 715726. Th-Su 10AM-2PM, M-W closed. Set inside HMP Portland, a young offenders' institute; is a small two-room museum. Free (donations recommended). HM Prison Portland (Q5635248) on Wikidata HM Prison Portland on Wikipedia

Do[edit]

  • 1 Chesil Beach. Chesil Beach is a 17 mi (27 km) long shingle beach spit connecting Portland to West Bay, contrary to popular belief Chesil Beach is not a tombolo, but a shoal beach. Part of the Jurassic Coast, a WV-Unesco-icon-small.svg UNESCO World Heritage site. Chesil Beach (Q1070604) on Wikidata Chesil Beach on Wikipedia
    • 2 Chesil Beach Visitor Centre, Portland Beach Rd, DT4 9XE. A small visitor centre with exhibits, a cafe and visitor information. A good starting point for tourists.
  • 3 Royal Manor Theatre, 138A Fortuneswell, DT5 1LT, +44 1305 860792. Portland's own small theatre is in a former church that hosts the occasional production and can be hired as a venue. Royal Manor Theatre (Q15273521) on Wikidata Royal Manor Theatre on Wikipedia
  • 4 Osprey Leisure Centre, Castletown, DT5 1BD, +44 1305 824378. Leisure centre with a 25-m swimming pool, gym and cafe.
  • 5 Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, Osprey Quay (follow brown tourist signs to Osprey Quay on arrival to Portland; bus services 1, 1X, 7 and X7 serve Victoria Square, approximately ten minutes walk away.), +44 1305 866000. Check with venue for opening times. In the Osprey Quay development. This venue hosted the London 2012 Olympic sailing events. This venue hosts events throughout the year as well as sailing courses. Cost of courses varies. Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (Q928789) on Wikidata Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy on Wikipedia
  • Sailing
  • Windsurfing
  • Rock climbing
  • Cycling and hiking around the island on the clifftop-coastal path

Buy[edit]

  • 1 Underwater Explorers, Unit 1, Maritime Business Centre, Mereside, DT5 1FD, +44 1305 824 555. 9AM-5PM. A diving shop, you can browse stock both online and with Google Street View. They also provide training.
  • 2 The Wool Shop, 17 Easton St, Easton, DT5 1BS, +44 1305 822794. A haberdashery store specialising in wool.
  • 3 Island Gallery, 31 Easton Square, DT5 1BU, +44 1305 821432. Tu-F 10AM-5PM, Sa 9:30AM-4PM, Su-M closed. Sells gifts and offers a picture framing service.

Eat[edit]

  • 1 Jailhouse Cafe, The Verne Prison, DT5 1EQ, +44 1305 825186. Tu-Su: 10AM-3PM, M: Closed. A cheap cafe near Verne Prison that does sandwiches, burgers and jacket potatoes.
  • 2 Lobster Pot, Portland Bill, DT5 2JT, +44 1305 820242. M-F 10AM-4:30PM, Sa Su 9AM-5PM. Dorset's most southerly restaurant, right next to Portland Bill and reputedly open since 1952. Despite its name, there is no lobster on the extensive menu though there is locally sourced crab.

Drink[edit]

Sleep[edit]

Budget[edit]

  • 1 YHA Youth Hostel, Hardy House, Castle Road (Castle Town), +44 845 371 9339, . An impressive Edwardian building (that previously housed the Royal Navy's First Admiral). Close to Chesil Beach and the fast bus link to Weymouth. Private rooms and camping are also available. From £15 per bed.

Mid-range[edit]

There are numerous guest houses located on the island. Portland Heights Hotel has spectacular views and has the highest amount of tourist guide stars in the area. Portland Lodge next door is also very good and caters to many of the divers and sailors in the area.

Splurge[edit]

Go next[edit]

The majority of pubs on the island are locally run establishments, aimed at older generations. There are no nightclubs on Portland. Most of local residents travel to nearby Weymouth to go out. Cinema and bowling facilities can also be found in Weymouth.

Routes through Isle of Portland
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