South Coast Path – Castletown to the Verne summit

Hey all. Hope you are all well?

Today’s trek is along the route of the old Portland Merchant’s Railway from Castletown to Verne Common Road, veering off to take in the Verne summit….1.8KM total ascent 161M (although this route is local to me total round trip was 6.2KM)

OS Maps Castletown to the Verne #getoutside

We start at the Castle in Portland, which I have never visited but I will once it is reopened!

We turned left onto Castle Road from Liberty Road, taking the second exit off the roundabout onto the unnamed road to take up the South Coast Path which can be found on the right a short distance from the roundabout. The path was the route of the Merchant (Quarry) Railway…

Merchant railway Portland Dorset
Merchant railway in use
photo courtesy of Portland picture archive http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/PortlandArchivePictures/html/rail.html

As you can see from the photo above, the route is steep and we were choosing to make this walk on the day that this part of the country was hotter then Monte Carlo (apparently)! We passed by the rows of houses of Castletown where people were enjoying the good weather and covid restrictions to catch up on home/garden maintenance or relaxing….one lady much more senior in years put me to shame by power walking past me in a blur!

Left, View up towards the Verne, complete with awesome power walking lady! Below, view back down towards Castletown and the Harbour.

Verne Tunnel

We carried on up the track to Verne Common Road, where we turned left and followed the road to the corner where a footpath (With steep stair way!) cuts off the long sweep of the road to the imposing Verne Citadel Tunnel. The Verne was built in 1857-81 as Weymouth Harbour’s main defence. It’s defence role came to an end in 1903 when it became infantry Barracks before becoming a Category C prison in 1949 Source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verne_Citadel). I can highly recommend a trip to the Jailhouse Cafe when it is open. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the fare, though the prices are a little steep………http://jailhousecafe.co.uk/about/jailhouse-cafe-the-verne/

We walked through the tunnel on the right hand footpath to the top on the incline, then turned right just past the smoking shelter(?) doubling back to go past the old gun emplacements over the top of the tunnel entrance to the summit which is a covered reservoir. The summit marker is a bit of a disappointment, but the views are stunning (The Fleet was looking fabulous!).

From here you can return to the coast path and carry on to the Olympic Rings monument, Portland Bill, visit Easton or the Tout Quarry Sculpture Park or back down to Castletown via the same route or through Fortune’s well….

Until next time, stay safe everyone.

Rachael

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