A postcard from Weymouth Bay

Postcard Series

Blue sky and sea, with boats

Weymouth Bay is an oasis of blue sky and sea, with excellent sailing conditions. This is because it shelters from the worst of the English Channel weather behind the Island of Portland. The Bay includes Portland Harbour, Weymouth Beach, Studland Bay and Lulworth Cove. It is home to the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy as a result of being the site for the 2012 Olympic sailing events.

Weymouth Bay and features
Weymouth Bay and features

History of the Bay

In 2019, the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth II anchored in the Bay, in order to allow disembarkation of a squadron for Yeovilton. In 1805, the year Aaran House was built, the Earl of Abergavenny sank in the bay, costing 261 lives. 1824 saw the ‘Great Tempest’, which destroyed much of the Esplanade. Most famously, King George III popularized the concept of sea-bathing for health reasons and effectively launched the Holiday Industry, here in Weymouth.

Fishing and marine life

Anyone who has ever “crunched” along the Esplanade in early Spring will realise there is plenty of marine life in the Bay. Gulls and crows/rooks regularly leave captured shellfish on the pavement. Lacking the powerful beaks of larger gulls, crows have developed a method to break into these tough little meals. They can be seen dropping shelled creatures from a height before leaving tens of thousands of “shelly” corpses for people to walk upon.

Cruise liners queuing up outside Portland Harbour
Cruise liners queuing up outside Portland Harbour

As well as shellfish, there are plenty of crabs and lobsters while various locations prove to be excellent spots for fishing. However, those nervous of crabs or larger fish around them while paddling can relax. It is fairly rare to see any of the marine life unless one hires a fishing boat for the day. Of course, the types of fish vary depending on location. Luckily, local Charter Captains are very skilled and can usually find any of those below.

View towards Studland Bay from the Old Stone Pier
View towards Studland Bay from the Old Stone Pier

Nearby Studland Bay is one of the largest breeding grounds for sea horses, due to extensive beds of sea grass.

Water-skiing in Weymouth Bay
Water-skiing in Weymouth Bay

Winter Fish

Bass
Bream (Black)
Bream (Gilthead)
Bull Huss
Conger Eel
Dogfish
Flatfish
Flounders
Garfish
Mackerel
Mullet (Golden)

– (continued)

Mullet (Grey)
Plaice
Pollack
Pouting
Rays
Smoothhounds
Squid
Wrasse (Ballan)
Wrasse (Ballan)

Summer Fish

Codling
Conger Eel
Dabs
Eels
Flounders
Rockling
Soles
Whiting

A postcard from Weymouth Beach

Postcard Series

Golden sand, full of dogs, donkeys and people, in that order…..

Formation of Weymouth Beach

Weymouth Beach is a wide, long arc of golden sand, stretching from the Pavilion Theatre towards Bowleaze Cove. From approximately the Jubilee Clocktower northwards, the beach increasingly contains pebbles. Some of these are thought to arise from weed-rafting. Fine and medium sand make up the wider, softer end of the beach (outside Aaran House).

Whether it is January or August, Weymouth Beach is always beautiful

These sands derive from tidal (reverse-)flow and wave action scouring the seabed in the Bay. Adding to this are sediments from the River Wey and Jordan. These sediments “washed up” against the harder outcrop at Nothe and formed the original strand. Extensions to the Harbour piers reinforced this sedimentation process. This broadened the beach near the current position of the Theatre.

Weymouth Beach – Best in Britain

The result is that the Beach comprises a safe, shallow bathing environment, with soft fine sand, ideal for making sandcastles and sunbathing. The Beach was a major factor in the development of Seaside Resorts and coastal holidays, following visits by King George III. It is possibly the most important attraction for visitors to Weymouth.

Donkey rides on the Beach
Donkey rides on the Beach (Westhill Donkeys)

The Beach was crowned “Best Beach in Britain” and one of the best in Europe in 2017, and it is easy to see why.

Volleyball on Weymouth Beach
Volleyball on Weymouth Beach

Beach Attractions

Among the attractions on Weymouth Beach, we have Donkey rides, a Helter Skelter slide, miniature golf, bungee rides, pedaloes and one of the last Punch and Judy shows in Europe. Paddleboarders and windsurfers launch from the beach most weeks. There are up to 27 concessions along the front, including shops, Sand World sculpture display booth and two cafes. The Beach is regularly cleaned during summer and there are RNLI lifeguards, First Aid, Lost Children services and Beach attendants available.

Santa Christmas Run on Weymouth Beach 2019

Hundreds of Santas, Fairies and Elves chase Pudding along the Beach – (Archive photos)

This year, the annual Chase the Pudding event (Santa Christmas Run) took place on the 15th of December. It followed the usual route from the Pavilion to the Bandstand Pier and back, along the Beach. However, in a novel departure, there was a Mrs Pudding to run alongside Mr Pudding, as the Santa hordes gave chase. Many spectators viewed the proceedings from the Esplanade.

The Santa Christmas Run Charity this year was the Will Mackanness Trust, in aid of watersports provision for local youngsters. We believe there was a record entry this year, with over 300 Santas, Elves, Reindeer and Fairies chasing the Puddings. As usual, the winner becomes next year’s pudding> We are now looking forward to the annual Christmas Day Swim in Weymouth Harbour. Further ahead, there is the Beach Volleyball Classic in somewhat warmer weather, among other events almost every week.

Weymouth Classic Beach Volleyball – UKBT – July 2019

The UKBT Classic Beach Volleyball competition took place this year from 24th to 27th July, on the main beach, just yards from Aaran Guesthouse along The Esplanade. Despite being snowed under with guests at this time of year, we were able to dash out and grab a few photographs of the proceedings. (We publish this on 18th September – that’s how busy it has been!)

Information from http://www.weymouthbeachvolleyball.co.uk/classic-2/event-details/ tells us that Weymouth hosted the first ever British Beach Volleyball event back in 1983 and has hosted the Classic ever since (more data can be found by clicking the link above). (See our YouTube Channel for related videos).

There was music all day and hundreds of spectators were seated at the grandstand, constructed on the Beach. Local sponsors were Domvs (estate agents). Thousands of people watched (free) as the centre court and outside games continued. Weymouth is probably the best place to see this premier UK sporting competition, with added advantages of plenty of delghtful smal guesthouses and, equally important, great pubs and restaurants, immediately nearby.

Cornish Pilot Gig Boat Racing demo on Weymouth Beach

Cornish Pilot Gig racing has become a popular sport recently. Gig racing clubs have sprung up all over Dorset and the South West since around 2000. On Saturday, we saw 19 Gig boats from towns along the Jurassic Coast taking part in demonstration races, with casual and team competitors of all ages. The boats launched from the Beach, with most spectators viewing from the Esplanade.

In addition to the gig races, there were numerous other events taking place around Weymouth. These included separate live music venues at the Town Bridge and across the Harbour in Hope Square. There were numerous stalls along the Harbourside on the South Bank as well as Celebration of the US Memorial Day on the Esplanade. There was a funfair on the Pavilion Forecourt and Fireworks in the evening to celebrate the new Town Council. We are now looking forward to the Classic Beach Volleyball Tournament in a few weeks time.