Our car-free coast series explores the trails, history and beaches of Hardy’s favourite ‘island’ on foot and by bus
‘The peninsula carved by Time out of a single stone,” Thomas Hardy called it. He set his strange 1890s novel The Well-Beloved on Dorset’s Isle of Portland, which stretches out “like the head of a bird” into the channel. Connected to the mainland by a causeway and long, pebbly Chesil Beach, the “island” is famous for the pale limestone that built Saint Paul’s cathedral. There are still quarries here, and striking stone structures: churches and castles, harbours and prisons.