11. Dorset Coast: Portland Bill (Circular) - 5 miles - OS Landranger 194
Easy walking. No shade.
The Bill is a South Coast oddity. An almost-island hanging like a tear off the end of the equally odd Chesil Beach. Start the walk at the junction of Weston Road and Weston Street in Weston. Plenty of street parking.
From the junction looking west across the road you’ll see the footpath. Take it and turn left when it meets another path, then right to reach the coast path. Go left along the coast path, enjoying the spectacular views west. If the bloke with his head in the ground is still there, it's probably time to call an ambulance.
Passing some sort of factory, the first of three lighthouses come into view. A little further along you’ll see another to your left, and, eventually, the third and tallest at the point of the Bill. This red and white beauty replaced an 18th century one in 1906 and now has a visitors’ centre. Before then there were beacons going back to Roman times.
Sticking out into the English Channel surrounded by shallow rock ledges, the Bill is a hazard for all that floats, and the importance of these lighthouses obvious. Fifteen ships lost in 1901 alone probably explains why the current lighthouse with all its improvements was up and running five years later.
Time for tea?
Dropping down to the lighthouse you’ll see the Lobster Pot ‘Restaurant' to the left. Through my eyes it’s a cafe but, despite the pretentions, they make excellent Dorset Apple cake and crab sandwiches.
Sited on the southernmost point of the Dorset coast, this is great place to sit outside and watch the boats doing their stuff on the ocean. Although often busy, there’s plenty of space and it’s a lovely spot.
When you’re ready to walk off the cake, continue along the coast path toward beach huts that have passed down through generations but were the subject of a costly legal dispute a couple of years ago (costly to the tenants who lost against the landowner). Despite that, they remain charming.