Friday, 25 March 2011

PORTLAND

Following on from Chesil Beach, our magnificent coastline continues to display its amazing variety as this flat sandy stretch is replaced by the imposing lump of rock known as the Isle of Portland, which can be seen from miles along the coast. This name is a bit of a misnomer, because it is not really an island, but is reachable by a narrow piece of land connecting it to the mainland. There are wonderful views of the coastline from a hotel at the summit of the ‘Isle’. At the foot of the landward side of the bill is the port of Portland, which used to be a naval base, with a Naval Air Station, but this has now closed. The site has now been regenerated for the 2012 Olympics, with the building of Osprey Quay, which will play a part in the Olympics sailing events. Stone quarried from Portland is highly prized, and was used in the construction of St Pauls Cathedral and Buckingham Palace and, on the other side of the Atlantic, for the United Nations Headquarters building.

At the end of the Isle of Portland is the promontory known as Portland Bill. There is a lighthouse which can be visited which helps to warn passing ships of the presence of Shambles Bank, three miles offshore. There are two other lighthouse buildings in the vicinity, one of which is used by birdwatchers, who flock (pardon the pun) here in great numbers to view the wide variety of birds, including hoopoe, reed bunting and red-throated diver, to name but a few. The other lighthouse building is available as a holiday let.

Map of the area.


File:Portland Marina, Isle of Portland, Dorset-9455.jpg
© Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

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