Portland (Weymouth), England, United Kingdom
Information Not Currently Available
Approximately 3¾ hours
Meals not included
On the Heritage Coastline, the small village of Abbotsbury lies in an area called 'the Fleet' -- the stretch of water between the Chesil Bank and the mainland that forms a sheltered lagoon. This is home to the eighteen-mile stretch of shingle known as Chesil Beach, immortalized in the Ian MacEwan novel of the same name.
Monks from the nearby Benedictine abbey established a sanctuary for mute swans here in 1393 -- it is now called the Swannery. Mute swans have been nesting in this sheltered spot ever since, with as many as 1,000 swans in the sanctuary. A walk through the Swannery offers an up-close look at the life of the swans.
A short distance away are the Abbotsbury Sub-Tropical Gardens. Proximity to the sea helps provide the microclimate here with higher-than-average sunshine hours on this part of the Dorset coast. In the shelter of the hills and with the warming effect of the sea and evergreen oaks, the garden harbors an almost frost-free botanic treasure trove of rare and exotic plants from all over the world.
The first Countess of Ilchester established the gardens in 1765 as a kitchen garden for her nearby castle. Since then, they have developed into a magnificent 20-acre garden with many of the introductions to this country found by the plant-hunting descendants of the countess. The garden is now a mixture of formal and informal, with charming walled-garden walks and spectacular woodland valley views. In summer, it is awash with sub-tropical color.