Probably not amongst the most familiar of Dorset beaches, nor the easiest to access, Osmington Bay is nonetheless full of interest and well worth the visit. The best way to the beach is to drive to the Smugglers Inn at Osmington Mills and park on the cliff top. You can just about clamber down to the shore from the car park – but it is safer to skirt around the pub using the South West Coastal Footpath and detour over the stile to descend the proper path and steps to the seashore.
The large boulders and cobbles that strew the shore mean that this beach is most suited to the agile, especially when the weather is poor and wet. It can be very slippery and progress tiring. However, every few hundred metres brings something new to look at – the aspect, the rocks, the structures, the seaweeds.
The picture above shows the view looking westwards towards Weymouth. The boulders at the water’s edge are covered in brightly coloured green and red algae that has washed ashore.
This picture was taken looking west from Frenchman’s Ledge – a rocky platform projecting out into deeper water. The name arises from a local story that smugglers in times gone by would land their boats here at night to off-load contraband goods brought over the Channel from France.
This picture shows a view to the west on Osmington Beach showing the large cobbles and boulders covering the shore. In the middle distance is a rock platform called Hannah’s Ledge.
This is the view on a good day, looking down from the Smugglers Inn car park on the cliff top showing the rocky ledges extending out from the Osmington Bay shore below, and across the water to Portland on the horizon.
This is a similar view just as a storm was about to hit Osmington. The ominous overhead clouds had just burst right over Weymouth and Wyke Regis. You can see the rain cascading down. A shadow is cast over half the surface of the sea which has a strange luminous green colour. Portland remained fine for the moment but we did not escape a soaking ourselves.
One of the features that attracts me the most about Osmington Bay is the amazing colourful patterns on the rocks – like the one on the boulder in the foreground of this picture. I will be talking more about the rock patterns in subsequent posts.
Despite the current difficulty in getting down to the beach from the car park, it is obvious from the existence of a slipway that this location is, or has been in the recent past, used by fishermen. The rapid erosion of the cliff may mean that this is not such a feasible activity today. Old winches for hauling the boats up the shore now lie rusted and useless – like the one now lying on the shore in the above photograph. The view is looking west across the bay towards Black Head Ledges.
The last view is looking east along the Osmington shore towards the east, Bran Point, and Ringstead Bay beyond. The most noticeable features in this shot are the large rounded brown boulders in the foreground. These are extremely interesting geological phenomena.
Revision of a post first published 12 June 2009
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