Until July 2017, documenting the seasons of coastal Dorset. I'm a complete amateur so don't trust I'm always right. If ever you see I'm wrong - whether with identifications or in anything else - do say! Meanwhile . . . I've now moved to Halifax in West Yorkshire. Click on the link below to collect the new URL. Don't forget to follow there!

Saturday, 24 May 2014


I am going to take you to a bleak and beautiful place. A place where nothing grows. A place of stones.

A commercial van crosses between Portland and Weymouth with Chesil Beach beyond.

In this post you will see little else. A van on a road and, beyond it - stones.

You will see no plants in this post - only stones.

There are no insects - only stones.

Looking up at Chesil Beach (a huge bank of pebbles) which runs parallel with the road.

These stones (or, rather, pebbles - because they are smooth and rounded and you won't hurt yourself if you fall) go on seemingly for ever - up and up, then for two miles one way (if you walked left out of picture) and around fifteen in the other.

Towards the top of Chesil Beach. Pebbles with blue sky.

You can change the seeming height in photographs. Often the flowers and insects I show you appear on your screen massively larger than they are in real life. It has to be like that - otherwise you wouldn't see them! But in this post, I have the opposite problem. There is no way I can express in pictures how high this bank of stones is, nor how it seems when you stand on top and see it curve into the mist of distance.

Where we are now - towards the eastern end, a couple of miles before they join land at Portland, the pebbles are oval and about three inches long. At the western end, where they join the mainland, they are like gravel. The sea, it seems, sifts them. And for much of its way, there is water on either side. Sea on the south. A lagoon called the Fleet on its other side which separates it from the coast of Dorset.

Three bands of colour - grey pebbles, dark blue sea, bright blue sky.
Almost at the top - and you begin to see the sea on the other side.

Photographs of Chesil Beach tend to show it from above - from the top of the Island of Portland - so you can see the sweep of it, the roofs of houses leading down to it. This gives it a Mediterranean feel. But when you are walking along the road beside it, along the two mile causeway between Weymouth and Portland, it feels very industrial. But it isn't. This is nature.

Waves arrive against Chesil Beach.
This is looking down to the sea from the top. Again, height is difficult to express.
The waves are a long way down.
They are not as high as they are sometimes but they are bigger than they look.
Between us and them there are huge ripples in the arrangement of pebbles.
They go down in stages so you have to go down and up and down and up
before you get to the sea - except its best not to get close.
The beach shelves. There's a strong undertow. Get in and you might not get out.
There may be fishermen with rods and long lines but
there are no swimmers!

Of course there are plants here, if only in its lower reaches; otherwise I wouldn't be talking about it on Loose and Leafy! But before we look at the dramatic flowering which happens each year in May I want you to grasp the context. Outside the towns of England, we are used to 'green and pleasant'. Even in towns there are trees. There are pebble beaches along some of our shores; dramatic cliffs too. But there's nothing like this - not on this scale. Which is why it's a World Heritage site.

A car, a lampost and three kite-surfing canopies.
Back to the causeway road. On the other side strong winds are
appreciated by kite surfers who race alongside it in Portland Harbour.

In the next post - I'll let you see the flowers!


Stewart M said...

Splendid post! I went on a scout camp near Chesil Beach - remarkable place really.

Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

amanda peters said...

What a place, nothing but stones! Or is there... Look forward to your next post..
Amanda x

Joanne Wilson said...

I do think a beach with stones far more interesting than one with sand! I look forward to see the flowers in your next post.

Dartford Warbler said...

Chesil is such a dramatic land/seascape. A real natural sculpture. Your photos show the shelving down into the sea and those changing shades of blue and green in the water. It`s a few years since we last visited and i would love to go back there again.

rusty duck said...

I've only seen it once, but loved it. The drama of it.

Down by the sea said...

Lovely pictures- the one of just the sky and the pebbles is fantastic! Sarah x

Diana Studer said...

I'd love to walk there - but I'd find it hard to resist taking - just one - stone home with me.

Anonymous said...

love the build up to the plants Lucy - you've set the scene so well, as I remember when holidaying on Portland. Just returned from North Norfolk pebbly beachside - challenging walking excercise

Crafty Green Poet said...

amazing to see all those stones together!

Jen Vandervoort said...

I'm fascinated by those stones, amazing. I'm not sure that I have ever seen anything like that anywhere else.


Anonymous said...

Excellent thoughts and pictures as always - you even got the kites all perfectly lined up!
But stones have feelings, too, you know. Nothing I like better than inspecting a shiny wet pebble...
All the best :)

Gerald (SK14) said...

I've never seen Chesil Beach and though I knew about the gradation of the stones I wasn't quite aware of its height or barrenness.

Janet/Plantaliscious said...

Amazing. I've not been since I was a child. Thank you for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

Terrific pictures of a fascinating place that I've always enjoyed visiting. Flighty xx

Lucy Corrander at Loose and Leafy said...

Hello Stewart. You are right. It's extraordinary. If the scouts were taken along it for exercise they would soon have been tired - and have developed strong leg muscles!

Hello Amanda. For much of it there really is nothing but pebbles - and things thrown up by the tide . . . and little terns nesting . . . and the occasional and unaccountable fox - but basically more and more and more pebbles. When the tide is strong, the noise is tremendous. Thousands and thousands of tons of stones being sucked in and out and over each other.

Hello Joanne. Chesil Beach is impressive - but for a seaside holiday I'd rather have a sand-castley kind of place (like the one at nearby Weymouth). Indeed, I think it would be better named 'Chesil Bank' for it isn't the kind of place most of us would think of when we hear the word 'beach'.

Hello Dartford Warbler. It's interesting to find how many readers have visited Chesil Beach at some point in their lives. Perhaps we should have a bloggers' convention here some time.

Hello Rusty Duck. 'Drama' is the right word - and when I think back to the winter when the sea was coming over the top (almost impossible to imagine in the ordinary way of things) the drama seems even greater.

Donna said...

What a fantastic and fascinating place...I don't think I have ever seen anything like it.

sue catmint said...

I don't mind that it's not green, because as you say it's bleakly beautiful. But I imagine there must be life under if not within the stones. Crabs, tiny sea creatures? Anyway, it's another for the bucket list ...

Pat Tillett said...

That is amazing! I've never seen such a thing. Until now that is...
Nice photos!