Chain Gang Trail
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Weymouth to Portland
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A day out will be like this

It is 2012 and the whole town is abuzz with Olympic enthusiasm. Emily, Holly and I got off the train and walked the few metres to the Swannery car park in Weymouth. Mike from Westham Cycles gets our bikes ready while we have drinks at the café. The car park is a hive of activity as more people arrive. Some bring their own bikes but many hire from the hundred or more available. We are soon off, I towing Holly on a trailer bike and Ems proudly cycling ahead. The signed cycle way is away from the road and the roaring traffic going into Weymouth is on the bridge above. In contrast we pass beside the boating lake where the cormorants are drying their wings in the sun and the mallard ducks are already looking for bread. Soon we are on the Rodwell Trail, passing through the platforms of Westham Halt just like a steam train.

We will have some wonderful views as we go along the trail

A few moments later we cross the “New Bridge”, an attractive wooden structure safely crossing Newstead Road. We see the whole town, the lifting bridge is up and yachts are going to sea. It is a bit of a pull up to the tunnel at Rodwell but the children still have enough breath to whoop as they pedal through. We gain speed once the summit is reached and freewheel, stopping a while above Castle Cove Sailing Club. It is a hive of activity with yachts being launched as the athletes prepare for the games. Ems and Holly play safely while I enjoy the panoramic views across the Harbour to the Jurassic Coast. Ancient Sandsfoot Castle stands proudly on its headland, served by its café and the nearby beach, full of happy people. Soon we cross over to Portland on the new trail well away from the traffic. The harbour beach looks inviting but instead we lock the bikes, grab an ice cream and scrabble over the steep shingle of Chesil Beach.

Chesil Beach

The children get wet feet wave dodging but they soon dry as we pedal on. The National Sailing Academy, Portland Castle and Castletown are hives of activity. The pleasant café and colourfully painted pubs and tourist shops are a welcome sight. We walk the next bit up the Merchant Railway. It closed in 1939 but I explain that huge pieces of stone were lowered down here, counterbalanced by empty trucks coming up. Soon Chesil Beach and the Fleet all the way to Abbotsbury lie below us. From here, descending towards the Bill, we become surrounded by sea. Weymouth Bay to Lulworth and beyond are on our left. Crossing the Island at Easton we can see the whole of Lyme Bay from the cliff top. We ride a safe distance from the edge to the three lighthouses at Portland Bill. We returned our bikes to Westham Cycles' "Bill" office, rewarded ourselves with cakes and ice cream, and get the bike carrying buses back to the Swannery.

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