Tourist Accommodation Offices
If you are short of ideas of what to do on a rest day, need some accommodation, want to hire a boat to look at some scary routes on Boulder Ruckle or are just interested in local history; take a look at one of the Tourist Information Offices listed below. These offices can give you much more useful and extensive information than it is possible to contain here.
- Tourist Information Weymouth - Tel: 01305 785747
- Tourist Information Portland – Portland Bill Visitor Centre. Tel: 01305 861233
- Tourist Information Purbeck – Town Hall, East Street, Wareham. Tel: 01929 552740
- Tourist Information Swanage – Shore Road, Swanage. Tel: 01929 422885
South West Trains (SWT) run a fast service every hour from London Waterloo, via Wareham and Wool, to Weymouth. It may be possible to save one third on the fare with a network card. A cheap add-on ticket is also available from SWT stations which allows travel on Weymouth and Portland buses. Tel: 0845 6000 650. Another rail service runs from Weymouth via Bath to Bristol. Tel: 0845 6000 880.
All the climbing on Portland is close to a regular bus service from Weymouth. The main service sets off from the riverside, just up and right from the railway station, or further along at the back of Debenhams department store. It runs at least every 15 minutes during the day time and will take you to Easton Square, for The Cuttings. It continues right at the Square and heads up, past the George Inn, to Weston Road. Get off at the third stop past the George Inn for the Blacknor Crags. It then loops round Southwell, closer to Battleship, Wallsend and the rest of the east coast cliffs. There is an evening service about every 20-30 minutes and the last bus is about 11pm. There is a different service which turns left, not right, at Easton Square, and passes closer to The Cuttings and the east coast cliffs. It also continues to Portland Bill on summer sundays during the day. Most services are currently operated by First Group (Services 1 and 1A). (Tel: 0870 608 2608).
Swanage town is served by a bus service from Wareham Rail Station (north side) which runs hourly during the day and less frequently in the evening and on Sundays. It is a 1.5km walk from Swanage centre to Durlston Country Park for Subluminal, Boulder Ruckle and the other eastern crags. Usually each alternate bus serves Langton Matravers (Post Office) which is about 1.5 km from Dancing Ledge and the other western crags.
There is also a service from Swanage to Bournemouth via Branksome rail station. Be aware that this can be affected by delays on the Sandbank Ferry. Services are currently operated by Wilts and Dorset (services 142, 143, 144 and 150). ( Tel: 01202 673555).
There is a restricted bus service from Wool station to Lulworth Cove. Traveline (Tel: 0870 608 2608) or Dorset County Council (Tel: 01305 225 165) are the best sources for information.
Dorchester - Great Western Camping, 28 High East Street, Dorchester. DT1 1HF. +441305266800
Weymouth is packed with every shop you could need. There is a large ASDA on the main roundabout as you enter the town. On Portland there are only a few mini-markets. The largest is in the centre of Easton and there is another on the main street in Weston.
There is a big Co-op supermarket in Swanage centre and also shops in Wareham on the drive to the crags.
The Sugar Loaf in Easton gives good service and a great fry-up.
The Blue Fish Cafe in Fortuneswell has good coffee.
The Church Ope Cafe is within 2 minutes of The Cuttings. Their tea cakes are huge and there is a beautiful flower garden to sit in.
The Tea Cosy in the centre of Fortuneswell (across the road from Rockies) is a pleasant place to start the day with a good full breakfast.
The Lobster Pot Cafe at Portland Bill is useful for the Coastguard and Cave Hole areas.
Lulworth has a very well situated cafe, right in the middle of the car park. Within easy reach for those mid-red-point breaks. There are some tea shops in Lulworth village.
Swanage town has lots of cafes with the best being Ricky’s, BeaveR and Hayman’s. Tea shops exist at the outlying venues of Langton Matravers and Worth Matravers.
Portland has a pub on every corner, but many are ‘locals only’. The Cove House Inn in Fortuneswell is a great place to sit outside as the sun sets over Chesil Beach. The Mermaid in Easton is also worth considering as is The George which has live music at weekends and a good Sunday roast. The Royal Breakwater Hotel in Castletown has good food and serves until 10pm
The Castle Inn is a nice pub with good food and a low slung roof.
In Swanage town there is a whole cluster of pubs near the end of the pier. However the favourite haunt is situated directly above the cliffs – The Durlston Castle Inn. If you are climbing at Dancing Ledge or Winspit you can head straight for The Square and Compass at Worth Matravers which has a very ‘olde world’ atmosphere. The Scott Arms in Kingston (near Worth Matravers) is pleasant. Many of the pubs in Corfe Castle are excellent but possibly the best is The Fox Inn.
There are many fish and chips shops on the Isle. Café India in Fortuneswell is a good indian. The Golden Island Chinese in Easton is worth a look. There are three restaurants of note, Giovanni’s (Italian) in Easton, Vaughan’s in Weston and The Blue Fish Café also in Fortuneswell. The Cove House Inn also does good food.
Head for Swanage town centre where you will find a good selection of take-aways and restaurants. If you are wanting to stop on the approach then try the Main Street in Wareham.
Q.E. Leisure Centre (The Edge) – Blandford Road, Wimbourne, Dorset. Tel: 01202 888208. 8m high lead and top-rope wall plus bouldering room and a bar for aprés training. Best local wall to crags. Open weekday evenings and weekends all day.
Calshot Activities Centre – Calshot Spit, Fawley, Southampton. Tel: 01703 892077. A large centre with a 20m leading wall. Open weekday evenings and weekend afternoons.
Along the coastline the variety of scenery is quite remarkable. Beautiful unspoilt sandy beaches occur at Studland, Sandbanks and Weymouth. There are also delightful stony coves at Lulworth, Worrbarrow Bay and Swanage Bay. The major venues have organised watersports such as water-skiing, parascending and windsurfing. Other areas which are popular for sunbathing and with families are Dancing Ledge Quarry and Church Ope Cove on Portland.