The May Bank Holiday weekend was fast approaching and the weather forecast looked great so for this campervan adventure we headed to Pebble Bank Caravan Park on the edge of Weymouth.

Set up and watch the sun go down

We arrived at teatime (I joined my family; husband plus 2 children, Ella aged 13 and Alfie aged 8, straight from work so once again we had our camper and car). We pitched up on the small, simple site which overlooks the Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon Nature Reserve. 

Pebble Bank Caravan Park

The site has a small play area and an on-site bar/restaurant called The Fat Badger with a terrace overlooking the Fleet, a perfect place to sit and watch the sun go down.  We chose this site because of its location.  You don’t need lots of facilities on a sunny weekend because Weymouth & Portland offer fun and entertainment by the bucket load!

All saddled up and ready to go

Saturday morning and the weather didn’t disappoint.   We woke up to a glorious sunny morning and lovely view.  We got our bikes ready, saddled up and headed to The Rodwell Trail.

After negotiating a few roads we joined the flat, off-road trail that follows the track of an old railway line from Weymouth to Portland.  It was built in 1865 to carry passengers and Portland stone.  We joined the route about 1/3rd of the way along the 3.4km route at the Wyke Tunnel entrance but there are lots of access points along the route.  The trail is a shady, family friendly oasis, popular with walkers and cyclists. 

Rodwell Trail, Weymouth

We loved spotting the different way-markers along the route (my favourite was the grumpy looking Henry VIII) and the 3 old station halts.  The trail provides some lovely sea views as it comes to an end at Ferrybridge at the beginning of the Portland Causeway. 

Fascinating stop for a picnic lunch

We carried on along the causeway to the Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Visitor Centre.  The centre is bursting with fascinating information about the Chesil Beach and the kids could have spent hours here looking at the fun, interactive displays.  We crossed the little wooden bridge outside, which has carvings of the creatures that keen eyed explorers can expect to find on the Chesil Beach nature reserve.  We had our picnic lunch overlooking the sea and enjoyed delicious ice-creams from the Taste Café within the visitor centre.

Tasty seafood and sailing tasters! 

After our brief stop we saddled up again and continued on to Portland Marina.  This smart little marina was hosting an open day with live music, SUP and sailing tasters and sea safety demonstrations. 

Portland Marina

We also sampled some fresh, local seafood from Sally’s Fish Camp, a local seafood delivery business that will deliver freshly prepared, local seafood to you, on the beach, at your holiday accommodation or boat (if you’re lucky enough to have one!) or anywhere else that you’ve set up camp. We saddled up once more and headed back to our campsite. 

Having the car with us we opted for the 5 minute drive into Weymouth to fill up on a traditional seafood supper. 

Weymouth Beach

The Quayside Music Festival was in full swing and the harbour was buzzing but after our hearty fish and chips we headed back to the peace and tranquillity of our campsite and fell into bed!

Beach life

We woke on Sunday to another glorious, sunny morning.  After a long, leisurely breakfast we were keen to head to the beach.  Weymouth’s beach is RNLI life guard patrolled with safe sandy, shallow waters and all the fun of the seaside, donkeys, Punch and Judy and amusements.  We opted to get back on the bikes though and headed to Ferrybridge, back onto the Rodwell Trail to cycle to Sandsfoot Castle and the lovely little Castle Cove beach (psst, it’s favoured by the locals so don’t tell them I told you!) 

Parking is very limited here so it’s best to arrive by bike or on foot.  After a couple of cherished hours paddling about in the waves, building dams and rockpooling we wandered to Sandsfoot Castle. 

Sandsfoot Castle

Sandsfoot Castle is well worth a visit.  You can treat yourself to a delicious Dorset cream tea from the café while admiring the immaculate, landscaped gardens.  The castle itself was finished in 1539, on the order of King Henry VIII, to provide a defence for shipping  in conjunction with Portland Castle across the water.  It never saw serious military action and fell into disrepair in the 18th century.  Today the castle looks little different from 18th century images even though, over the years, it has been robbed of much of its stone facing, especially from the easily reached lower levels. Some of this, it is said, was used in the 19th century for the first stone bridge between Weymouth and Melcombe Regis.

View from Sandsfoot Castle

After exploring the castle ruins we headed back to our campsite.  We had our dinner at The Fat Badger, the on-site restaurant.  It’s popular with campsite residents and locals so it’s best to book to be sure of a table.  We enjoyed goats cheese salad, chicken ceaser salad, the Sunday carvery and a half slab of pizza (don’t be fooled into thinking this is for smaller appetites….it was huge).  We had our eyes on the sticky toffee pudding but it was sold out so we chose the chocolate brownie instead and it didn’t disappoint.  Served warm with ice-cream, it was deliciously gooey in the middle and was gone before I got chance to take a picture!

A dino-mite time seeing Dippy

On the Bank Holiday Monday we packed up and headed for home.  We made a brief detour into Dorchester to visit the Dorset County Museum to see Dippy the Diplodocus (he was on loan from the Natural History Museum) and we just had to see him before he was removed from the museum to continue his tour of the UK.  He looked magnificent!

We arrived home full of our adventures, feeling sun-kissed and relaxed after our perfect Bank Holiday weekend away.  There are so many ways to fill your days in Weymouth & Portland and always a full calendar of events going on.  I wonder where we will explore next!

        

Related

Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre
Country Park/Nature Reserve
Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre

Managed by Dorset Wildlife Trust, the centre's exciting displays and programme of activities will help you make the most of your visit to Chesil Beach and Portland.

Sandsfoot Castle and the Rodwell Trail
Castle/Fort
Sandsfoot Castle and the Rodwell Trail

Halfway along the Rodwell Trail you'll find Sandsfoot Castle, built by Henry VIII in 1539 to protect his kingdom from foreign invasion. Abondoned by the military in 1665 it's become an iconic ruin overlooking Portland Harbour for the past 350 years in Green Flag gardens with an outdoor cafe where a free guide can be obtained. Rodwell Trail is a 3.4km green link for walkers and cyclists and a haven for wildlife between Weymouth and Ferrybridge following the course of the old Weymouth to Portland Railway. Wheelchair friendly although most access points are steep it is suitable for all ages.

Portland Castle
Castle/Fort
Portland Castle, Dorset

A well preserved coastal fort built by Henry VIII to defend Weymouth harbour against possible French and Spanish attack. Exhibition: 400 years of the castle's history.

Dorset County Museum
Museum
Dorset County Museum

Dorset County Museum closed in October 2018 for a two-year multi-million pound redevelopment. Complete with new galleries, a learning centre, collections storage, a library and visitor facilities the new Museum will become a cultural destination at the heart of Dorset’s community. The Museum is continuing to inspire, educate and entertain all generations on its county-wide tour exhibiting in towns and at events across Dorset.

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