Wednesday, 23 March 2011


The section of shore stretching to the east of West Bay is probably one of the most famous beaches in the country, Chesil Beach, which stretches for 29 miles between here and Portland. For much of its length it forms the outside edge of a long, thin lagoon called The Fleet. The beach was the setting for a novel by the acclaimed British author Ian McEwen called “On Chesil Beach” about a couple on honeymoon in Dorset.

There are a number of small villages and hamlets along the stretch of land backing onto Chesil Beach, but probably the most famous is Abbotsbury. As well as being an attractive village in its own right, Abbotsbury has a famous Swannery, a unique visitor attraction which is the only place in the world where it is possible to walk right through a colony of nesting Mute Swans. Fans of these beautiful, graceful birds might be distressed to learn that the swannery was originally started by Benedictine Monks from a monastery at Abbotsbury, who farmed the swans for food. Happily, the swans no longer grace the banquet tables of monks or anyone else; instead visitors can watch the swans themselves being fed twice daily. Alongside the swannery are tropical gardens and a children’s farm.

Map of the area.

Chesil Beachphoto © 2006 Peter Bonnett | more info (via: Wylio)

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