Tout Quarry is possibly one of the oddest places in Dorset, but in a good way!
At its simplest, Tout Quarry is a “disused” quarry pit once employed in the extraction of the world-famous Portland Stone for building and other uses. It sits, as a collection of rocky humps, bumps and hollows, on the top of Portland’s more Northerly end and, on the face of it, should be about as interesting as a hole in the ground…but it’s actually a whole lot better than that!
For a start, “disused” in the context of Tout Quarry is more than a bit misleading. It may not be used for the mass extraction of stone any more, but what the quarry industry has left behind, the public, wildlife and, believe it or not, art have taken over.
Visitors can now wander through the quarry workings for a walk with a difference. It’s a big site, and the maze of tracks, spoil heaps and rocks large and small makes for a countryside stroll like no other.
Care is needed, as are rugged shoes or boots, but it is, an oddly interesting place to just amble around and see the efforts that have gone in to pulling out stones that may have gone on to grace some of Britain’s, and the World’s, most iconic buildings.
But there are added bonuses too. Because Tout Quarry sits right on top of the Isle of Portland, there are some stunning views to be had of the Chesil Beach, Portland Harbour and the much battered town of Chiswell. There are also some great views of Dorset’s Coast and countryside, spreading Westwards and inland. And to the South and South West, the sea. The best of the views are possibly those from the cliff-top footpath which circumnavigates this part of the Island, but there is also much fun and some worthwhile vistas to be had from climbing to the top of some of the mounds within the quarry itself.
Meanwhile, down at ground level don’t be surprised if you stumble upon rock carvings and sculptures, because there are lots of them strewn around within the labyrinth of the quarry. Some are carved into the face of large rocks still part of the landscape, while others have been hewn from lumps large and small to form more free-standing pieces.
Michelangelo’s “David”, this is not. But then this isn’t Florence and the workings aren’t out of marble either. Nevertheless there are sculptures and carvings of considerable and rugged beauty within Tout Quarry. And for creative, arty souls, a ramble through the rocks here can provide insight, inspiration and, on many occasions, relaxation.
Tout Quarry is probably not the place to go in the pouring rain. And for the unfamiliar a definite no-no in fog. This is, quite literally, a cliff-top quarry and falling off the edge in places is a real possibility if you don’t take care. Bits of the quarry can be surprisingly sheltered in windy conditions, but the best time to see it is definitely when the skies, and the views, are clear.
It’s a great place for older kids to vent some steam, but not really buggy and baby territory.
Do not expect Health and Safety warnings (or standards) at every turn, this is a wild place, and irresponsible or careless actions are likely to have painful consequences. But don’t let that stop you going there for a while to enjoy what’s to see, maybe on your way to or from Portland Bill.
Tout Quarry is possibly one of the oddest places in Dorset, but in a good way!..."