Car-free adventures aroundWeymouthDorset
Great Western Railway runs direct trains to Weymouth from Gloucester via Bristol, Bath and Dorchester and there are regular trains from London too. Here's our round up of five Weymouth car-free adventures. There are royal connections in this iconic Dorset town: when George III went famously mad, his doctor sent him to Weymouth as “the Resort of many people of the first Distinction”. But there’s no need to go mad or get stuck in traffic to enjoy these long sandy beaches and chalk-white cliffs; travel via picturesque paths, scenic railways, open-top buses or coastal bike rides. Scroll to the end to find more tips for Weymouth-based staycations.
1. Bus to Portland
Arrive in Weymouth by train and you can soon be strolling by the long sandy beach; hop on a bus and you can visit some more unusual landscapes. Our Weymouth car-free adventures start with a trip to Portland. Portland peninsula has its own distinct feeling. With sunshine sparking from the turquoise water, the wild, white cliffs have a Mediterranean air with their coastal flowers and rock-hopping ravens. Four miles long and never more than half a mile wide, Portland has sea views on all sides. The north end of the island, nearest to Weymouth, overlooks Portland harbour and Chesil Beach while the southern tip, with its red and white lighthouse, enjoys glimpses of migrating birds and huge panoramic seascapes.
- From Weymouth Railway Station, stroll along King Street to the Esplanade, where you’ll see the clock tower. This bright red landmark commemorates Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1887.
- Turn right along the Esplanade, with the beach on your left (see map below) and you’ll soon reach a statue of George III, who made Weymouth fashionable with his love of swimming in the sea. There’s a replica of his bathing machine nearby, a sort of beach hut on wheels.
- From the King’s Statue, you can hop on a bus to Portland (and other places). The seasonal open-top bus 501 runs all the way to the lighthouse at Portland Bill. Other times, you can catch the frequent bus 1 to Southwell and walk along Southwell Road to pick up the coast path. Turn right along it for a beautiful mile-and-a-half’s walk to the Lobster Pot café near the lighthouse.
2. Tout Quarry Sculpture Park
New York’s United Nations HQ, Dublin’s City Hall, the Tower of London, St Paul’s cathedral and the Cenotaph in London… there’s a long worldwide list of historic buildings and monuments made with white Portland stone and old mining equipment stands along the rugged cliffs. To get a sense of the sites where this iconic stone originated, visit Tout Quarry, where fanciful sculptures are carved into the pale boulders and rock faces overlooking Chesil Beach.
- Hop off bus 1 (or summer time, open-topped 501) outside the Portland Heights hotel.
- Walking from the hotel towards the nearby mini roundabout, look out for the stone circle that is part of Tout Quarry. Remnants of tunnels and horse-drawn tramways are monuments to this former quarry’s industrial past and some of the subtle relief carvings feel like the ghostly memories of the stone itself.
- Dotted among the flowers and bushes that now soften the landscape are sculptures, some simple, some spectacular. Anthony Gormley’s “Still Falling”, where a human figure seems to swim head-first down through layers of Purbeck and Portland limestone, dates from the Sculpture Park’s creation in 1983.
- More recent sculptures include the mythical Roy Dog; local stone worker Damien Briggs spent more than a year carving the Portland legend, a monstrous dog with one red and one green eye, completing the sculpture in summer 2018.