Destination UK

Climbing Portland Bill Lighthouse with the kids

Posted on
October 2, 2018

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?

  1. Reply

    Micaela Levachyov

    October 2, 2018

    My mum tells a story of when my dad took my sister and I up to the top of a lighthouse and she was having vertigo watching us swinging on the railings!

  2. Reply

    Tracey Kifford

    October 2, 2018

    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

  3. Reply

    Alex Gladwin

    October 2, 2018

    It looks like such a fantastic way to spend a few hours and the views are amazing. My boys would love this!

  4. Reply

    Rhian westbury

    October 3, 2018

    That’s good that your guide was good, having the right tour guide makes such a difference x

  5. Reply


    October 3, 2018

    Love this. The girls would love to do something like this , it’s definately on the cards for one day for sure

  6. Reply

    Newcastle Family Life

    October 3, 2018

    We have never been to Portland before, it sounds like you had a lovely day out. We have a lighthouse near us the kids want to visit but they are still a bit too small. The views look amazing x

  7. Reply

    Cath - BattleMum

    October 3, 2018

    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!

  8. Reply

    Michelle Murray

    October 3, 2018

    I would love to visit a lighthouse. The views look amazing

  9. Reply

    Laura - Dear Bear and Beany

    October 3, 2018

    We’ve never been before, it looks a brilliant days out. Alice would love the lighthouse, they did a lot about them at school last year and she built one.

  10. Reply


    October 3, 2018

    This looks like a fab day out! My son loves lighthouses but we’ve never been inside one.

  11. Reply

    michelle twin mum

    October 3, 2018

    The views look wonderful but I know that I’d be super worried going up those steep steps. I’m a wuss! Mich x

  12. Reply


    October 4, 2018

    I have never visited Portland before but would love to one day.

  13. Reply

    The London Mum

    October 4, 2018

    I love how picturesque the lighthouse is! I can see why you all enjoyed it. x

  14. Reply


    October 4, 2018

    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!

  15. Reply


    October 4, 2018

    My kids would LOVE to visit here (and so would I!). I do love lighthouses – so much history and so many stories! Looks like you all had a fab time!

  16. Reply


    October 4, 2018

    This place looks amazing! I think the price is reasonable too for a family x

  17. Reply

    Emily Leary

    October 5, 2018

    Portland Bill looks like a lovely place to visit. Amazing scenery and we’ve never been inside a lighthouse so this is definitely one to add to our list.

  18. Reply


    October 15, 2018

    Have never visited but now really want to go, loved seeing all the photos and the lighthouse climb looked great! Added to our list of places to visit!

  19. Reply

    Kurt Rental

    October 24, 2018

    Good article! It looks like you had a great roadtrip

Leave a Reply


Are we nearly there yet? is a new online blog run by me, Kara Guppy, and is named as such thanks to my daughter Eliza who always asks that very question when we are less than 5 minutes up the road heading off on our adventures. You may know me from my other family blog