Climbing Portland Bill Lighthouse with the kids

Last year we enjoyed a visit to Portland Bill, however, as I was on my own with the kids, we could not make the climb up the Lighthouse as Sebby was too small – much to Isaac’s disappointment.

We have been promising him we will return ever since and on Sunday, we headed to Portland on a rather stormy looking day.

Portland Bill

The kids love Portland Bill itself because it is the perfect location for exploring, climbing and running around.

Portland Bill Sebby

In fact, we saw a school full of kids all kitted up ready to climb Pulpit Rock, an artificial stack of rock was left in the 1870s after a natural arch was cut away by quarrymen at Bill Quarry. It even boasts proper climbing holds carved into it.

Pulpit Rock

Isaac was itching to climb it too, but instead clambered around the craggy rocks surrounding it.

Isaac Pulpit Rock

On the southernmost tip of Portland Bill is the Trinity House Obelisk which acts as a warning to ships of a low shelf of rock that extends 30m south into the sea.

Trinity House Obelisk

Portland boasts 3 lighthouses, one of which is still working and is open to the public.

Portland Bill Lighthouse

At its base is a small visitor centre whose exhibits give you the opportunity to learn about the history of navigation and the lighthouse and its keepers.

History of Navigation

You can also find out about Trinity House, the organisation that operates the lighthouse and has safeguarded mariners for over 500 years.

Trinity House

It is a fascinating, with large colourful exhibits which the kids enjoyed looking at.

Trinity House Portland

There are a number of interactive displays and historical artefacts to see whilst you are waiting for your tour of the lighthouse and for kids, there is also a small play area where you can design your own lighthouse, play games and do some colouring.

Trinity House Games

Then it was our turn for the tour.

Flag Lighthouse

Our guide was brilliant. Not only was he very knowledgable about the lighthouse, but he involved the kids at every step.

Climbing the Lighthouse

The Lighthouse itself is 41m high and has 155 steps. Luckily, you are not expected to climb it all in one go and there are 3 places where you can stop and catch your breath.

Lighthouse Eliza

During the climb you get information about how the lighthouse keepers lived, get to sound the foghorn and even get to hear some funny stories about some very cheeky residents.

Eliza Book

You have to be a minimum of 1.1m to climb the tower as it is quite a physical activity, plus the last few steps are more like a ladder. Of course the kids had no problem with it whatsoever.

Portland Lighthouse Ladder

The climb is well worth it for the views over the Jurassic coast.

Jurassic Coast


Our only disappointment was the fact that it was not a sunny day.

View from the Lighthouse

The kids were fascinated by the light itself, and how it moved. They were even able to push it gently to see it rotate whilst found it is sat on a layer of liquid mercury.


They give you plenty of time to drink in the views from the top, whilst answering any questions you might have, before it is time to head back down.

Sebby Ladder

A visit to Portland Lighthouse and Museum costs £20 for a family ticket (2 adults and up to 3 children).

Sebby Stairs

At Portland Bill itself there is also a cafe where you can have lunch with a view, or just choose to go for a scenic wander.

Portland Lighthouse

Portland itself is reached over a causeway from Chesil Beach and is just 4 miles long by a mile and a half wide at its broadest point. It was formed by a plate of Jurassic limestone that is tilted from north to south.  This means that if you are on the elevated northern side of the island you are rewarded with stunning views across the Chesil, Portland Harbour & Weymouth.

Olympic Rings

Portland is well-known world-wide for its sailing waters, the National Sailing Academy is based here and has a reputation for running major championship events, including being host venue for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic sailing events.

It is also famous for its Portland stone, which has been quarried on the island for many years and is used in prestigious buildings all around the world including London’s St Paul’s Cathedral and the Olympic rings located on the island. Tout Quarry is now disused but has become a sculpture park and is also well worth a visit.

Tout Quarry

Any visit to Portland, would not be without a visit to Church Ope Cove to find the pirate graveyard.

Church Ope Cove

It is a fascinating walk down through the ruins of St Andrew’s Church, where you stumble across weathered tombs and gravestones complete with skull and crossbones as you head down to a beautiful secluded cove.


But Sssshhhhh – it’s a local secret – don’t tell anyone I told you about it!!

St Andrew Church

Have you visited Portland before?



19 thoughts on “Climbing Portland Bill Lighthouse with the kids

  1. I have visited, but it was a very, very, long time ago. I love lighthouses – we try to visit one whenever we explore a new region. I love climbing to the top to look at the view

  2. I didn’t even know there was a town called Portland in the UK (I’ve been to the Oregon one). The lighthouse area sounds fascinating. I’d have to bring my hubby to entertain our son while I read all about them. A few of my uncles were in the British navy so boats and all things maritime fascinate me. It sounds like a great place for a day out!

  3. Cor, beautiful photos – what a lovely part of the country to visit. Imagine being the tour guide for a lighthouse! Even with your tree stops that’s a lot of stairs, he must have been really fit!

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