Activities in Dorset

Leaving Swanage - Cliff Baxter

Weymouth Pleasure Pier, DT4 8ED

The Waverley is the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. This historic ship is operated by a charity and carries over 250,000 passengers each year, transporting them to favourite seaside haunts or to marvel at the unfolding landscape around the south of England’s Jurassic Coast.

The paddle steamer Waverley was built on the River Clyde in 1947. In 2003, a major restoration project was completed, returning the ship to the original 1940s style in which she was built. The Waverley is the only remaining real Clyde steamer and the last sea-going paddle steamer in the world. In 1974, The Paddle Steamer Preservation Society bought the 693-tonne ship for £1 to preserve it for the future.

On the cruises, passengers can gain unrivalled access to spectacular scenery, miles of golden sandy beaches and an island steeped in history. This award-winning attraction provides a range of day, afternoon and evening cruises on selected days throughout September from Weymouth Pleasure Pier to various ports including Bournemouth and Yarmouth.

Cruise by the famous Lulworth Cove one of Dorset’s most recognisable features heading onwards past Durlston Head with its imposing castle on the hilltop and into Bournemouth, the perfect place to spend a day out with the family. Take a ride on the mini land trains, play with the kids on one of the cleanest beaches in the UK or enjoy a quiet stroll through Bournemouth’s glorious gardens.

Alternatively steam through the Solent and view the magnificent coastal scenery of the Isle of Wight. Stop off at Yarmouth with its natural harbour, which is a mecca to numerous boats and yachts that visit, or stay on board and enjoy a cruise around the Isle of Wight passing Newtown, Thorness and Gurnard Bay and along the coast to Cowes, famous for its huge sailing events during the summer.

Finally, don’t miss the legendary Evening Showboats with a live jazz band on board and make it a night to remember!

The Waverley has excellent onboard facilities including a restaurant serving hot and cold snacks, two bars, heated lounges, engine room and paddle wheel viewing gallery, and a souvenir shop.

Osprey Quay, Portland, Dorset DT5 1SA

Monday- Friday: 9am-5pm Saturday & Sundays: 8am-6pm

The Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy (WPNSA), which was the host venue for the London 2012 Olympic sailing events, has an established global reputation for its outstanding facilities. WPNSA was formed in 1999 as a not-for-profit company by a group of far-sighted individuals who identified the brown field site with immediate water access into Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay as a huge asset to not only the local Weymouth and Portland communities but as a destination that would attract sports people and events at national and international levels.

Looking at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy from a purely sailing related perspective, the surrounding waters of Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay are some of the best sailing waters on the planet. The clean winds, sheltered waters and weak tides also have added value due to these natural conditions being preferential to a large and growing range of water sports.

In fact the Academy is ideally suited to hosting water based events including sea swimming and rowing, canoeing and sea kayaking, motor boating, sport fishing, model boating, water skiing and wake boarding. In addition, a range of land-based events from running, cycling or indoor rowing and combined events such as triathlons are run from the centre.

Spinnakers Restaurant, positioned in the heart of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, boasts breathtaking views across Portland Harbour and beyond. This unique venue is open for Sunday carverys throughout the winter as well as being available for private hire when not required for sailing events.

Preston Beach Road, Weymouth, Dorset DT4 7SX

Monday - Sunday. Various Times.

A state-of-the-art centre for skateboarding, rollerblading and BMX in a great seafront location.

The Sk8park currently has three distinct sports areas: a beginners’ area; the main street course with long planter; and the bowl, halfpipe and spine section. These offer challenges to suit different ability levels allowing for progression and choice.

There is a vast array of ramps to suit all levels of user. There is an undercover beginners’ area plus street and ramp obstacles for the more experienced.

Sessions run all year round, after school, at weekends, in school holidays, and at other times by arrangement. There is also a regular events programme. Low key supervision and support is provided by first-aid trained staff and sk8park volunteers. There is a simple membership scheme and entry fees are kept as low as possible.

The Front, Weymouth’s Sk8park is a not-for-profit community enterprise managed by the Weymouth Skatepark Association.


  • custom-built ramps for all levels from beginner to expert
  • helmets for hire
  • skateboards for hire
  • snack bar and cafe
  • pool table
  • car park

Map grid reference: SY688809

Open at all times

Bearded tits and Cetti’s warblers can be seen all year round, and the autumn migration can be spectacular with hundreds of swallows, martins and wagtails, as well as lots of wading birds.

Lodmoor has one of the largest common tern colonies in the south west of England, and the hide provides great views of their fascinating courtship and the chicks growing up through spring and summer.

Spring highlights

Little grebes ‘whinny’ in courtship displays and pairs of shovelers spin around each other, heads locked together below the water’s surface. By the middle of spring, summer visitors will have arrived: swallows, martins and by the beginning of May, swifts. The reed beds are noisy places to be, full of warblers staking out their territories.

Summer highlights

Listen for the explosive song of the Cetti’s warbler – a little like a wren’s song but even louder. Hobbies fly overhead in their attempts to catch small birds, causing havoc among the flocks. The tiny, stripy little grebe chicks can be seen out on the water with their parents.

Autumn highlights

Kingfishers are easiest to see at this time of the year, as young birds disperse from where they hatched. Bearded tits are also more obvious. Lodmoor is the perfect refuelling site for waders en route from the Arctic to Africa – you may see birds like black-tailed godwits, and green and wood sandpipers.

Winter highlights

Bitterns fly in from Europe during cold weather, but can be tricky to see. Grey herons stand at the water’s edge, waiting for fish to swim by within striking distance. Little egrets are more proactive and stir up the water with their yellow feet to entice small fish, worms and shrimps. This is the best season for watching wildfowl, with pochards, teals, tufted ducks, shelducks and gadwalls around the reserve. Marsh harriers can still be seen hunting over the reeds.


  • pay and display car park (not RSPB)
  • group bookings accepted
  • guided walks available
  • pushchair friendly
  • dogs allowed on public footpaths and bridleways