Dorset Wildlife Trust
Portland is one of Dorset’s gems, rich in wildlife, history and geology. Famous for its limestone which was used to build many of London’s most iconic buildings, it is also well known as a migration hotspot, attracting birds and birdwatchers alike. September is a great time to visit, with autumn migration well underway as birds head south after breeding in Britain and other parts of northern Europe. Portland Bill, disused quarries and just about any other shelter can hide the travelling birds as they rest, feed up or just wait for the wind to change before heading south.
The sheltered quarries are a revelation in themselves, rich in limestone-loving plants and insects, including many butterflies, but they also tell the story of Portland’s history. There are only a few places in Dorset where you can see the fossilised remains of pre-historic trees, and Dorset Wildlife Trust’s King Barrow Quarries is one of them. As well as ancient trees turned to stone, the disused quarry also houses many other old secrets to divulge, such as rope stone, full of fossils of long ago oysters and cockles, old mining railway tunnels and ancient stone walls.
King Barrow Quarries also offers fantastic views of the Dorset mainland, Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon. The quarries have not been used in over 100 years, and this is now one of the few places in Portland displaying the original land height of the area. The Quarries are also a fantastic place to see wildlife, with species such as Adonis and chalkhill blue butterflies. Whitethroats, linnets, meadow pipits and little owls have also been spotted on the nature reserve. Lichens and wildflowers are plentiful and easy to spot among the landscape.