The Dorset Coast Path forms part of the 630 mile South West Coast Path National Trail. Dramatic landscapes and seascapes are revealed with every twist and turn along this coastal walk.
The path provides access to all kinds of stories: an exceptional record of the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods of the Earth’s history – the ‘walk through time’; classic landforms straight out of geography text books – the Black Ven landslide complex, Chesil Beach, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove; stories of farming, both ancient and modern, of smuggling, quarrying, fishing and of war and fortification; and wildlife that is as rich, varied and specialised as anywhere in the country.
The path links together coastal hamlets, villages and towns and simply gives people the opportunity to access all that is special about the Dorset coast.
The coast path follows cliff top, lagoon, beach and urban environments. There are some very steep ascents and descents in parts of Purbeck, Portland and West Dorset. Steps are installed on most of the steeper sections. The path is currently accessed through a mixture of self closing gates, kiss-gates and stiles.
The Portland section is a 13 mile walk of dramatic, rugged cliffs, nationally rare plants, hidden coves and stunning views. The Isle of Portland is a large mass of limestone which is linked to the mainland by the shingle ridge of Chesil Beach. Centuries of quarrying and military presence have altered the natural landscape, leaving visible records of the history of this important part of Dorset. The Isle’s white limestone has been used for construction since Roman times. Nature has reclaimed some of the disused quarries, which become a stunning mass of grasses and wildflowers in the spring and summer months.
Follow either the road and cycle way from Ferry Bridge, or the shingle ridge of Chesil Beach, to join the Coast Path as it climbs to the top of the cliff providing stunning views. The Path then offers fairly easy walking around the Isle along old quarry tracks, with some short, steep ascents and descents in places. Take time to enjoy the impressive views from Portland Bill before walking the east coast back round to Ferry Bridge.
Near to the Portland Bill lighthouse there is a hole close to the cliff edge called Cave Hole. During extreme stormy weather, it is advisable to keep well away from it as this is the lair of the dreaded Roy Dog!
This animal is described as a shaggy black dog, as high as a man, with large fiery eyes, one green, one red, and entwined in his mane of dark fur can be seen the freshly plucked eyes of his victims.
It is said that the creature emerges from the watery depths to seize any traveller passing by Cave Hole, and drags them down into his dark watery domain.
Portlanders would often tell of another spectral black dog with large saucer shaped eyes, which prowls the island during the hours of darkness, called The Row Dog. However, unlike the Roy Dog he does not attack you, but merely obstructs your way, snarling and barking aggressively.
Tout Quarry Sculpture Park began in 1983 with artists residencies, where well known and emerging artists created both temporary and permanent work in response to the labyrinths and gullies of quarry workings within the 40 acre site – giving back to the Quarry where in the past so much had been taken away for buildings in London and around the world. This first Landscape and Environmental Sculpture project was significant in shaping PSQT’s creative and educational work and helped to save the historical quarry environment from further mineral extraction through a yearly artists residency programme that has brought a new experience and dimension to the quarry, with an unprecedented involvement of the community and visitors within the landscape.