Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Visting England | Isle of Portland

Chesil Beach is a thin spit of land, constructed almost entirely of shingle, connecting the Isle of Portland with Weymouth on the Dorset coast. It's a windswept barren couple of miles, made for walkers, not bathers; fishermen and kite-surfers, not bucket and spade wielders.

On either side, the mainland and the island tower up from the sea, sheltering their inhabitants from the elements. Here, on the beach, people hunker down into their coats, peeking out from behind binoculars and kite strings, staring out across the marshland to study the birds.

On a clear day, the glaring sun beats down, drying the ground and crisping the grass, while its warmth is swept away by the relentless wind. The only shade in sight provided by a single brick wall protruding from the shingle. Running to shoulder height, before dropping away to nothing, each brick of the wall is twisted, the mortar broken and crumbling. Tall grass hides in its shaded side, climbing the wall and helping to eat the mortar that supports it.

This was as far as we explored; this wall and an ice-cream. We should have explored Portland - the castle, the lighthouse the numerous pubs - but it's a long drive from the Cornish coast to the Jurassic, navigating hills, towns, villages, and a high moorland that disappeared into a cloud when it met the sea. It's a long drive too back home, across the New Forest and out through the centre of London.

Portland can now join the list of English places I want to visit again and most definitely should. Whether that long list will ever grow any shorter remains to be seen.

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