A natural phenomenon stretching 18 miles from Portland to West Bay.
Chesil Beach extends 18 miles from Portland to West Bay and is perhaps the finest example of a barrier beach anywhere in the world. This phenomenal stretch is part of the Jurassic Coast – a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The beach is famously said to comprise of more than 180 billion pebbles, which gradually reduce in size as you travel along the beach. Chesil draws visitors regardless of season, although it is seldom busy. The entire stretch remains almost entirely undeveloped and the golden pebbles stretch in a steep shingle bank as far as the eye can see. Even a gentle swell creates an enormous roar as the pebbles move in the waves.
To truly appreciate the sheer size of Chesil Beach, it is best to view it from an elevated position. There is a viewpoint at Portland Heights on the Isle of Portland which allows you to admire almost the entire beach in all of its glory. The Jurassic Coast Road also offers excellent views, which encompass the patchwork countryside and Fleet Lagoon.
Swimming at the eastern end is discouraged due to the depth of the water, which shelves away quickly just metres from the shoreline. Swimming is possible at West Bay where there is a lifeguard service in the summer months, however care should always be taken. Chesil Beach is a popular site for experienced divers due to its rich marine life. It is also one of the premier destinations for beach fishing venues in the UK, meaning the beach is peppered with anglers and their tents throughout the year.
The Chesil Beach Visitor Centre near Portland is well worth a visit during your time on the south coast. Here you can learn about the history and geology of this spectacular site as well as the species that inhabit the shoreline and waters.
Watch the sun set
‘Chesil’, as it is affectionately called by locals is a wonderful place to sit in the evening and watch the sun go down. Sunsets here are incredible spectacle, best enjoyed with a glass a wine in hand and delicious food shared with friends. The Cove House Inn and Hive Beach Cafe are both just a stones throw from Chesil Beach and serve an extensive menu throughout the year.
Despite it’s length, Chesil Beach can only be accessed in a handful of locations due to the Fleet Lagoon. At the eastern end you can use the Chesil Beach Visitor Centre pay and display car park, which is only a short albeit steep walk up and over the bank to the beach. Similarly, there is a dedicated car park behind Abbostbury Subtropical Gardens with a small cafe serving takeaway hot drinks and snacks. Access to the beach is easy here, due to a wooden ramp laid over the pebbles. There is also a paved and level road, which runs parallel to the beach which is excellent for admiring the views.
For parking at the Western end use the pay and display car parks at West Bexington, Burton Bradstock and West Bay.