During our stay in Dorset last month I was keen to revisit some of my favourite childhood memories and at the top of the list was this, Portland Bill Lighthouse. It’s funny how, even now, my memories of Portland Bill are so vivid, despite the fact I struggle to remember what I did just yesterday, and I was excited to share that with the children, somewhat thirty years later.
Located on the Isle of Portland, Portland Bill Lighthouse has been standing majestically since 1906 at a height of 41 metres and a nautical range of 25 miles. In 2015 a grant from the Trinity House Maritime Charity enabled a full refurbishment of the Visitor Centre and the popular landmark reopened its doors once more.
Unfortunately the centre and the lighthouse were unexpectedly closed on the day of our visit (sods law!) but ordinarily you can climb the 153 steps to the lantern room at the top and look out at the views right the way across the Jurassic Coast. Despite the fact we didn’t make it up the lighthouse, it still remained pretty impressive!
Regardless of the lighthouse, the Isle of Portland is well worth a visit. Tied to Chesil Beach, the island is just 4 miles long by 1.7 miles wide and can easily be accessed via a bridge to the mainland. Portland is well known for its stone, famous for its use in British and world architecture, including St Paul’s Cathedram and the United Nations Headquarters. And everywhere you look, there is stone….and lots of it!
It was lovely to talk to the children about Portland, sharing the history of the lighthouse, the importance of the stone, and my memories of visiting with their Grandparents when I was just the same age as they are now.
The children were happy to climb on the rocks, run around on the grass and watch those far braver (or crazier?!) than us who were climbing the huge rock cliffs at the edge of the sea. My heart was in my chest the whole time!
Portland Bill is such a beautiful place, even in the depths of Winter, and although the wind was bracing, and the waves crashed against the rocks with such force, there was something so very peaceful about standing at the waters edge with these little hands in mine.
With coastal walks right the way over to the mainland, the Isle of Portland is ideal for keen walkers and in the warmer weather I would love to attempt the walk right back to Weymouth with the children.
As is always the case, the children soon grew hungry and with the light house drawing us in we headed up to the cliff top cafe for a sit down, an ice cream, and a chance to admire the view.
It never ceases to amaze me how, even on the most bitterly cold day when I couldn’t even feel my fingers, the children happily sat there, eating ice creams and ice lollies, blissfully happy as if it were the height of Summer.
It was so lovely to revisit Portland Bill with the children and Gaz and share a little snapshot of my own childhood with my family. We will definitely be returning on our next visit to Dorset and hopefully this time we can climb the stairs up to the top and appreciate the view.