Portland in Dorset - one of my favourite holidays in the UK (close to London)
At the end of April, we spent five days exploring Portland and areas near Weymouth in Dorset. The trip ended up being one of our favourites in the UK, as there is so much to do in the area and the food is incredible. We went for long walks to Portland Bill and local quarries, explored beaches, especially the famous Chesil beach, went on small drives to explore Dorset and ate delicious food. Portland is about three hour drive from London and it is technically a peninsula, as Portland is connected to the mainland by a road. Portland itself is very hilly and mainly known for its quarries - the majority of central London is built from Portland stone, including St Pauls, Tower Bridge and Westminster palace.
How ended up going to Portland
At the end of April, sadly, I ended up being one of the unlucky people whose passport has been massively delayed in coming back from the home office. We had flights and Airbnb booked for five days in Portugal. The plan was to spend a few days in Porto and then head to Lisbon. But looking at the title of this blog, you can probably guess that it wasn’t meant to be. There is a bit of an issue in the UK right now and passports seem to be really delayed. Which actually makes me feel better - at least it wasn’t entirely my mistake. As we had the time booked off work already and I managed to get some of the money off through Airbnb, we wanted to go away for a few days anyway as it was my partner’s birthday. I ended up scrolling the web for hours trying to find something fun and very randomly found a small listing on the isle of Portland. To be honest, I have never even heard of this place before. But it looked random and not too far away from London. We ended up staying in Easton (there is also Weston on Portland, which just makes me smile), which is a small town with few cafes and pubs and a huge Tesco, which was very convenient as we had a bbq in our place so we could have dinners outside on the terrace.
5 things to do there
Walk to the Portland Bill
One of my favourite things was an hour's walk to the Portland Bill. We walked past the ruins of the Rufus Castle and Church Ope Cove, which is where locals tend to spend their sunny days. The walk takes you along the cliffs overlooking the English Channel. It is incredibly picturesque, but do wear good shoes as it is not an even path but relatively level. The highlight of the walk was definitely an ice cream from The Lobster Pot. There is a famous lighthouse, but as we were there around 5pm it was already closed. It is definitely a great walk if you have time, as seeing the cliffs and the sea was the highlight of the trip. On our way back to our Airbnb, we popped in for a pint at the Corner House inn, which was very welcomed as the weather was superb for the end of April.
Walk around a quarry and sculpture park
On one of the evenings, we walked to the Tour quarry nature reserve. This was another highlight of the trip. The quarry has been abandoned for around 40 years now and there are well over 60 sculptures. The park is completely free and open to everyone. It is incredible to walk around all sculptures but also see the signs left from quarry days all around. Very strange, but also cool! If I was filming a video for my music, I would probably choose this place...too bad I have close to zero musical talent.
Admire the views over Chesil Beach
Portland is a very hilly place, no wonder they have been supplying London with stone for many centuries now, so the views from the highest points are incredible. We ended up walking to the viewpoints from Easton but you can also park near the Tout quarry and walk from there. My favourite point was from the South West coastal path and near the Olympic Rings stone sculpture. Portland harbour was a place for sailing competitions during Olympics in 2012, so there are many remnants of that around. Luckily, we were there just before the sunset so the view was amazing.
Visit the beach
Chesil Beach is an 18-mile long shingle barrier beach stretching from West Bay to Portland and is one of Dorset's most iconic landmarks. Apparently, small pebbles change their size as you get closer to the West Bay. There are various car parks to spend a few hours at the beach, but it is worth mentioning that the currents are pretty strong around there so it is not advisable to swim or enter the water. We were planning to go paddleboarding there initially but chickened out plus the water was absolutely freezing as it was April after all.
Eat delicious food
Obviously, it being an island, the seafood is very prominent everywhere. I have to be honest here, I am a vegetarian (and have been for almost 20 years now) so I didn’t personally eat any seafood but Calum loved it! It was Calum’s birthday on Wednesday so I booked us a table at the Crab house cafe. Which sounds very unassuming but is actually an incredible restaurant serving the freshest seafood. If you fancy a treat, I cannot recommend this place enough. We ended up having three courses each, which came to around £100 but was worth every penny. They also had a decent vegetarian and vegan option, so I enjoyed my lunch a lot. The next day we visited their sister place Billy Winters, which is basically across the road, which is much more relaxed and serves burgers, tacos and pizzas. Another brilliant meal! Both places sell their own beer, made for them in Devon. But the vibe of both places is so relaxed and fun, and instantly makes you feel like you are on holiday. Another place I can recommend is White Stones cafe in Portland, we were staying next door so ended up having breakfast there twice.
Great things to do near Portland
I honestly think Portland is a great base for exploring Dorset. We spent a few hours in Weymouth and were so pleasantly surprised. By far my favourite traditional British seaside town now! So many lovely cafes and shops. We had lunch in Nautico Lounge, which was amazing, followed by ice cream from Rossi’s ices, which is an institution in Weymouth. I also recommend strolling along the harbour, all the colourful houses give a very Mediterranean vibe.
Another thing that is great about Portland, is that it is close to touristy places on the Jurassic coast - it is only 40 min drive to Durdle door or West Bay. We have been to Durdle door before, it is stunning but very busy. So instead we spent a few hours in West Bay, which is a lovely small town with a fantastic beach, beautiful yellow cliffs and tons of chippies.
And finally, I left my favourite to the very end - Upwey Wishing well and tearooms. Nothing brings me more joy in England than a good tearoom. And I think Upwey has stolen the top spot. It is located in a tiny village near a famous wishing well. The tearoom itself is amazing, great menu and a brilliant selection of cakes. But the garden for me is what did it! It is so well kept, green and simply magical. I accidentally wore the perfect dress (one of my recent sewing projects) for the place. The staff in the cafe even gave us a glass so we could use them well and make a wish. Truly magical!