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Portland Bunkhouse Local Activities

Bunk style accommodation with spectacular views from the top of Portland Bill.

Free tea/coffee Free WiFi Fully equipped kitchen BBQ area Private parking Communal room with DVDs / 42" screen

Climbing

The Isle of Portland is one of the most popular sport rock climbing and bouldering venues in the South West of England and with over 1500 routes across 20+ crags recorded along its coastal cliffs and their dramatic setting, spectacular views and scenic coastline on an Island that is only 6 KM by 2½ KM you can see why.
The Portland Bunkhouse is right in the thick of it.

There are two crags opposite the Bunkhouse:   CoastGuard S (73 climbs)  -  Coastguard N (45 climbs)
With a further three less than 650 metres away:   Lighthouse Area (92 climbs)  -  Wallsend S (112 climbs)  -  White Hole (55 climbs)

The World Heritage limestone cliffs of Portland offer a huge range of climbing in great scenery. There are climbs for all abilities, from f3 to f8a and above for the climbing elite. Sport-climbing is the mainstay of the island with many routes bolted in the last 20 years using good modern staples. There are some great deep water soloing spots including the best in England for low-height routes, perfect for those looking at their first splash-down. Bouldering is also popular and there are even a few classic routes kept free from bolting for the trad-enthusiast.

To get the most out of your trip we recommend picking up the latest guide books
Dorset Bouldering (New!)
Dorset Rockfax
Rockfax Deep Water.

Diving

Portland and the Dorset coast offers divers scenic drifts, abundant sea life, wrecks of various ages and sizes and both deep and shallow areas. Shore dives include the Ferrybridge at a depth of between 5 and 8 meters with plenty of marine life and Chesil beach where you can find some wreckage and again an abundance of sea life. The British Sub Aqua Club voted Diving in Weymouth and Portland one of the top 10 best UK diving locations.

8-18 metres

Vixon - 8 metres

Fuselage of a Vixon aircraft deliberately sunk and used for underwater escape and lifting exercises by the Royal Navy.

Ham - 8 metres

Wooden vessel, now very broken up and lying in a sheltered position in Portland Harbour with no currents.

Royal Adelaide - 11 metres

This 1,500 ton iron clad clipper got into trouble in 1872 due to either fog obscuring the light from Portland Lighthouse or because the lighthouse wasn't actually lit. The Adelaide was broken up, due to a storm, on the beach with a loss of seven lives. Many were saved by the efforts of the coastguard and locals who put their own lives at risk to save others. The story doesn't end here though as it was established that the Adelaide was carrying, amongst other things, a cargo of rum, brandy and gin. Many locals looted the cargo, got extremely drunk on Chesil Beach and died of hypothermia. This wreck is largely broken up but still an interesting dive.

Himalaya - 12 metres

When launched in 1853 she was the largest three masted steamer in the world and weighed a massive 4,600 tons. After service in the Crimean war, as one of the largest troopships, she was sold as a coal hulk and anchored in Portland Harbour. Four bombs, dropped by a German JU-88 Aircraft on her deck, on 12th June 1940 consigned her to the seabed. Her scattered remains now lie in a depth of about 12 metres. Take care though, of the four bombs dropped, only three were reported to have exploded!

The Enecuri - 12 metres

Also referred to as The Spaniard, this 3000 ton Spanish Steamship has very little history prior to her sinking. On 28 December 1900 during a force nine north-westerly gale she dragged her anchor and went aground on rocks close to the Breakwater Fort. All the crew escaped to safety as the vessel took some time to finally sink. The following day, the ship still resting on the breakwater, the Captain boarded the vessel with his dog and made no attempt to escape when she finally slipped off the Breakwater and sank. Years later, divers working on the wreck discovered the skeletons of the captain and his dog in the cabin. Lying now at the foot of the breakwater, the bow section is totally intact standing 6 metres. (permit required and advanced notification to HM).

Balaclava Bay/Grove Point Beaches - 12 to 30 metres

Depth can vary from 12-30 metres. Plenty of rocky ledges prolific with marine life. Generally good visibility makes it excellent for night diving and novice training. Please beware of strong currents especially at Grove Point.

Earl of Abergavenny - 15 metres

Lying 1½ miles south east of Weymouth Harbour this East Indianman was wrecked on Shambles Bank on 5th February 1805. The vessel tried to make it to safety but inevitably sank with a huge loss of life including John Wordsworth (captain of the vessel and brother of the poet William Wordsworth). The majority of the wreck lies buried but is still an interesting dive. Please do not disturb this wreck whilst diving as she is currently part of an ongoing archaeological investigation.

Black Hawk - 15 to 20 metres (Bow)

The bow section of the Black Hawk was taken under tow to Worbarrow Bay and was landed on the beach. The bow was finally destroyed in 1967 by a deliberate explosion to make way for the Winfrith pipeline. The wreck is badly broken up and unrecognisable but makes a very scenic dive with an abundance of marine life.

LCT - Wreck - 17 to 20 meters

Lying in very silty water this wreck is fairly intact. LCT is one of many tank and infantry landing craft found lying in Portland Harbour.

James Fennel - 18 metres

Naval Trawler sunk in January 1920 on Blacknor Point. The stern remains intact and you can also find a boiler and engine towards mid ships.

Aeolean Sky - 18 to 30 metres

The Sky as she is known locally was a Greek container vessel weighing 14385 tonnes. After colliding with another vessel in the middle of the English Channel in 1979 she limped, whilst taking on water, to shore but off St Albans Head she finally gave up and sank. The Sky is a very large wreck and although subject of much salvage work is still very recognisable.

18-30 metres

British Inventor - Max depth 20 metres

7176 ton British oil tanker sunk in 1940 by a mine. The bow is well dispersed whilst the aft section was salvaged and converted to a new ship. Little remains except for a few girders and plates.

Kimmeridge Bay/Ledges - up to 20 metres

Rocky ledges supporting an abundance of marine life.

Abbotsbury Reef - 22 to 26 metres

This ledged reef makes a very pretty dive prolific with marine life.

Stennis Ledge - 22 to 33 metres

Large ledges with plenty of marine life.

Binnendijk - 24 to 28 metres

Locally known as the Benny, this 6873 ton Dutch steamship literally went down in a blaze of glory. After striking a mine she caught fire and was alight from stem to stern. The wreck is well broken after salvage operations but is still substantial and often diveable when most other sites are blown out, due to her location in the relative lea of Portland and inside the Shambles Bank. Part of her cargo was tyres and copper wire, which are much in evidence and her remains make a good rummage dive, which can often be topped with a nice lobster.

Pomeranian - 27 to 36 metres

This 4241 ton Canadian Liner was torpedoed in 1918 by a German submarine. She sank so quickly that there was only one survivor out of a crew of 56 who jumped overboard and then hung on to the ships rigging which was sticking out of the water after she had settled on the bottom.

St Dunstan - Max depth 30 metres

In times of poor visibility this wreck can be the rabbit out of the hat and save the day. For some reason the clarity of the water here often remains when everywhere else is poor and even though her description as a dredger drums up thoughts of boring, most divers are pleasantly surprised. Although well broken there is much machinery to see and an abundance of life gives the wreck a bright airy feel, there are also many scallops around the wreck so something for everyone.

Elena R - Max depth 30 metres

This ship sank on the outside of the Shambles Bank after hitting a mine she still stands 6 metres high in places but the wreck is constantly being buried and uncovered by the ever shifting sands of the bank. This has also had the effect of sand blasting and parts of the wreck are highly polished. In good vis this is an excellent dive but you do need to dive at the right state of the tide or you will end up in a sandy soup.

Alex Van Opstal - Max depth 30 metres

This ship was almost brand new when she also succumbed to mines near the Shambles Bank. She was a large passenger/cargo vessel and like the Binnendijk is often a good bad weather dive. Her bow is intact and stands some 7 metres high as you travel along towards the stern she is more and more broken. As with several wrecks near to Portland she is only safely diveable at one particular state of tide so again local knowledge is advisable.

UB74 - 30 to 36 metres

This German submarine, sunk in 1918 by depth charges, has had a lot of attention from the salvage men. The conning tower has been removed and her stern has been reduced to nothing. For those with knowledge of U Boats however she makes a fascinating rummage dive. She has really thrown up some surprises and if you fancy diving this one there is a tale or two to tell.

30-70 metres

Pomeranian - 27 to 36 metres

This 4241 ton Canadian Liner was torpedoed in 1918 by a German submarine. She sank so quickly that there was only one survivor out of a crew of 56 who jumped overboard and then hung on to the ships rigging which was sticking out of the water after she had settled on the bottom.

UB74 - 30 to 36 metres

This German submarine, sunk in 1918 by depth charges, has had a lot of attention from the salvage men. The conning tower has been removed and her stern has been reduced to nothing. For those with knowledge of U Boats however she makes a fascinating rummage dive. She has really thrown up some surprises and if you fancy diving this one there is a tale or two to tell.

Frognor - 30 to 36 metres

1476 ton Norwegian steamship sunk after being torpedoed in 1918. She is one of several wrecks worked by local divers over the years but much still remains, most divers love this wreck and often want to return.

Salsette - 33 to 48 metres

A British P and O liner torpedoed in 1917 carrying British Troops now lying on her port side.

HMS Empress of India - 35 to 48 metres

14100 ton British battleship that had all her stores and portable fittings stripped before being used as target practice. She was hit several times before turning upside down and sinking in Lyme Bay.

HMS M2 - 36 metres to seabed

Second of the British aircraft carrying submarines. The M2 is classified as a war grave due to the fact that she sank as the result of an accident in 1932 killing all the crew.

HMS Arfon - 36 metres

Admiralty armed trawler. Believed to have been sunk after hitting a mine.

Black Hawk - 36 to 48 metres (Stern)

7,000 ton American Liberty Ship torpedoed in 1944. The stern was destroyed by the explosion and lies four miles from Portland Bill on its side and stands 12 metres high.

P555 - Max depth 44 metres

An ex American submarine which was supplied to the British Navy under the wartime lease lend scheme. At the end of the second war we must have had the best of her as they didn't want her back and in 1947 she was scuttled as a sonar target. P555 remains in remarkable condition and sits proudly upright as if waiting for action.

Buccaneer - Max depth 45 metres

This well known Portland tug was sunk in a variation of the now famous friendly fire!! She was towing a target, the firing vessel obviously got mixed up and much embarrassment ensued as the Navy sank one of it's own. The Buccaneer is a great dive lying on her port side, it's easy to get around in one dive. She has started to fall apart over the years but there is much to see and for a tug she had some very high quality fittings.

Iolanthe - Max depth 46 metres

3081 ton steamship torpedoed in 1918, it's hard to believe this wreck was only found in the early nineties considering her size and location. The wreck is fairly well collapsed but there is plenty of it and her cargo of railway rolling stock is in evidence. She stands 7 metres in places and the bow is still intact.

Martha - Max depth 47 metres

The Martha for some reason doesn't get much attention, which is surprising. A victim of the first war, she is relatively intact with a lovely counter stern, not far out and just seems to be ignored.

HMS L24 - Max depth 52 metres

This submarine was on exercise when she passed across the path of the battleship Resolution at periscope depth. The resulting collision gave her no chance and she went down with all hands. When diving this wreck it is sad to see her hydroplanes set to hard dive as she desperately tried to take evasive action. A hatch is also open and there is obvious damage where the 25000-ton ship sliced into her hull.

HMS Boadecia - Max depth 53 metres

The Boadecia, a British destroyer, was an unlucky victim of WW2. She was hit directly in the forward magazine by an aerial torpedo which completely blew the fore part of the ship away, sending her quickly to the bottom. What remains of the bow is scattered across the seabed but her midships and stern make a superb dive with much to see, she even has depth charges still in the racks.

Avalanche - Max depth 50 metres

In 1877 this 1160 ton fully rigged clipper sunk with the loss of 89 lives, made up of passengers, some women and children, and crew after colliding with 'The Forest' 10 to 12 miles off Portland Bill. Sinking immediately, the Avalanche left only 3 people alive. A church in Southwell, Portland has been named the Avalanche Memorial Church in respect for those that died. In 1984 divers located the anchor, and after seeking permission, managed to raise it and donate it to the church. Lying upright but buried to the gunwhale on one side it is important to avoid stirring the bottom as the vis is soon reduced to nil.

Merchant Royal - Max depth 56 metres to seabed

A large wreck sunk as the result of a collision. Standing 11m high with her centre castle area largely intact she is still a recognisable ship. Care is needed when entering her holds as it is possible to go below seabed depth and reach 60m but if you do find yourself there lookout for copper ingots that were missed by the salvage men.

Warrior II - Max depth 56 metres to seabed

A once beautiful steam yacht built with no expense spared. She was requisitioned in both wars but her luck ran out in 1940 when she was attacked from the air. Her bow is a fantastic site and she still retains many of her very heavy brass fittings.

LH Carl - Max depth 58 metres

It was 1917 and UB 40 was having a good run, earlier that day she had sent the P&O liner Salsette to the bottom and made light work of LH Carl. A torpedo struck the ship full square in the boiler room sending her down in fifteen minutes. A large wreck with a large cargo of coal she is a rewarding dive in good visibility but is quite heavily netted so proceed with care.

HMS Blackwood - Max depth 58 metres

A lease lend American frigate, Blackwood, only ten days before her sinking had been involved in the D-Day landings. Torpedoed with the loss of over 50 lives she is another vessel that has been extensively depth charged. The result is a very broken but interesting wreck with some enormous shellfish life. It's worth a dive just to get a sight of the huge crabs!!

Meknes - Max depth 60 metres

A 6000-ton liner sunk in WW2 by German E boats. She was carrying troops at the time and sank with the loss of over 400 lives. A very large site, which has been extensively depth charged as the Navy were concerned that her hulk could make a nice hiding place for a U Boat. She is well worth a dive and still has many secrets to give up, the least of which is her bell. The area is often blessed with spectacular visibility.

Rotorua - Max depth 60 metres

A massive 11000-ton wreck torpedoed in WW1. Lying on her side she stands some 15 metres above the seabed at her bow. For some reason after being dived quite extensively in the mid eighties she was forgotten about, possibly because she lies in the middle of Lyme Bay and is quite a trek but with the fast modern boats of today distance is no longer a major issue.

Waitara - Max depth 62 metres

883 ton fully rigged iron sailing ship, sunk after a collision with her sister ship the Hurunui. She makes an excellent dive and for a wreck sunk in 1883 is in remarkable condition as is much of her cargo, which is heavily concreted but well preserved.

HMS Delight - Max depth 62 metres

A destroyer sunk early in WW2 by German aircraft. The aircraft found her mid channel using an early form of Radar, which if true she must be the first ship sunk as a result. Her centre section lies upside down, her bow is broken off lying on it's side and the stern is upright but blown away down to her steering mechanism and propeller shafts. She is one of those wrecks when you see her lying broken and twisted you cannot help but think of the poor brave sailors that went down with her.

Siren - Max depth 65 metres

The Siren sank in 1896 after colliding with The Landrail, another wreck to be found in our waters (see Popular Dives). This wreck is well worth spending time on as there is plenty to see, the visibility has been recorded to be in excess of 25 metres and she is reputed to support an abundance of marine life.

HMS Fisguard II - Max depth 66 metres

Formerly the ironclad battleship Invincible she was converted to a static training vessel but sank in the deep hole just off Portland Bill while under tow. Completely upside down and lying up against a ledge the Fisguard makes a challenging dive due to the fact there isn't much slack water and sea conditions change very quickly due to her close proximity to the Portland race. She is an interesting wreck with much to see.

SS Jeanne - Max depth 67 metres

This is one of those wrecks everyone seems to love and wants to go back to. The wreck has been identified by the maker's plate but as yet no bell has been found. The boarding crew from the U Boat possibly removed it, they often took the bell to prove the kill and used bombs rather than valuable torpedo's that could be used on better armed prey. The Germans boarded her, bombs were placed and Jeanne was blown up after the ship's crew had been allowed to take to the lifeboats. Countess of Erne (permit required) 1880's cargo/passenger carrying paddle steamer. After her passenger career was over, the Countess of Erne was used as a coal hulk in Portland Harbour. On the 16th September 1935 she broke free from her mooring and holed herself on the north east arm of Portland Harbours inner wall, sinking rapidly. Lying in 10 metres of water the hull is totally intact with interconnected holds although the superstructure is missing. The Countess of Erne makes an idea swim through for training and novices and neutral buoancy makes her a rewarding dive.

Illinois - Max depth 68 metres

Standing over 15 metres in places this three castle American tanker dating from the first war is an incredible dive. One of the country's leading technical divers Jamie Powell rates this wreck as possibly the best in the English Channel.

Pangani - Max depth 70 metres

Quite a trek to this one and it's busy (with shipping) but well worth the effort. The Pangani was a very large sailing ship that sunk as the result of a collision. She rises in places 14 metres from the seabed and is broken in two forming a dogleg. Absolutely stuffed with pottery, when the vis is good in this area which is often is, she makes a stunning dive.


Sailing

Portland Harbour and Weymouth Bay are the main areas used for sailing. The harbour covers an area of 8.6 square kilometres (2,125 acres), this is ideal for sailing as it is exposed to reliable winds from most directions,but is sheltered from large waves and currents by Chesil Beach and the breakwaters.

Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Acadamy  have 3 Ramps available A shallow ramp is used by the dinghies, two wider and steeper ramps are used by larger craft. Tractor assistance is available. The Sailing Academy has food, plenty of parking, toilets and showers. There are also a few pontoons availble for loading and unloading. Best to phone to make sure there is room for you as they regularly hold regattas and sailing competitions. TEL 01305-866000

Public Slipway: Free but parking can be expensive once you have launched.

Directions: From Weymouth follow the signs to Portland through Wyke Regis and onto the road (A354) along Chesil beach. Once on Portland, take the second exit off the large roundabout that leads uphill and onto Portland. Next take the first left that leads down into Castletown. The slip is on your left approximately 300 metres past the mini-roundabout. The concrete ramp is straight and approximately 10 feet wide, it has a grippy surface but you will need to kick a few stones clear before recovering your boat. At low tides the slip does not reach the sea but you can still launch / recover boats as the stony beach is quiet firm.

Portland Bunkhouse Weather Update
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