The sweep of the Chesil Beach from Abbotsbury to Portland

The Chesil Beach (or Bank) is a shingle beach approx 16 miles long stretching from West Bay (Bridport) in the West to The Isle of Portland. For six miles East of West Bay the beach commences as a fine single fringe passing Burton Bradstock, (which some consider to be its start), until it reaches Abbotsbury .  where the shore recedes and and behind the beach a tidal lagoon, The Fleet, is formed. For its length of around 8 miles this lagoon is protected by the beach that forms a bar of pebbles over 20 foot high. At Ferrybridge the eastern extremity of the Fleet the beach forms a Tombolo ( bar of shingle ) rising to a height of 40ft and a width of 600ft at its base, which for two miles connects the mainland to the Isle of Portland.

 This Dorset phenomenon of pebbles, which is what its name, Chesil, means has no equal in the world. The pebbles, which gather from many parts of the coast stand on a bed of Kimmeridge clay and due to the prevailing winds and currents vary in size. At the Western end of the beach the make up is a fine shingle, as you walk Eastwards towards Portland the shingle changes gradually to larger and larger pebbles. This process is known as longshore drift. It is said that fishermen coming ashore in fog can ascertain where they are simply from the size of the pebbles.

A walk along the beach starting either at West Bay, Abbotsbury or Ferrybridge is the best way to experience the beach, (but very tiring). If you don't have the time or the energy the coast road from Weymouth to Bridport affords magnificent views for much of its length.

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