A unique place

This is the only place in the world where you are able to walk through the heart of a colony of nesting Mute Swans, spread over a site of some 25 acres.

Behind Chesil Beach lies a large saline lake known as the Fleet Lagoon, one of the few remaining undisturbed brackish lagoons left in the world.

The lagoon is home to the mute swan colony at Abbotsbury, the only place in the world where you can walk through a nesting colony and one of Dorset’s most popular tourist attractions.

Designated a SSSI, the Fleet Lagoon an important natural wildlife habitat for many species and is a top spot to see little egrets, dark bellier brent geese and common greenshanks.

Book a trip on the Fleet Explorer, a shallow drafted boat specifically designed and built to explore the lower reaches of the Fleet Lagoon.  The boat runs daily trips for visitors and is a great way to explore the area and experience one of the UK’s most important Marine Protected Areas.

Family of swans

The Swannery


The Swannery was established by Benedictine Monks who built a monastery at Abbotsbury during the 1040s. The monks farmed the swans to produce food for their lavish Dorset banquets. St Peter’s monastery was destroyed in 1539, during the dissolution. Some of the ruins are still visible around St Nicolas’ Church in the village. Since that time, the Swannery has been under the stewardship of the Ilchester Estates.


If you’re looking for something more unusual to do in Dorset, why not visit the Swannery and help hand feed 600 swans at 12 noon and 4pm daily, or get lost in the giant maze (the largest willow maze in Dorset), swing on the swinging nests play area, refresh at the Kennels café or browse the gift shop.

Chesil Beach

Chesil Beach is an 18-mile long shingle barrier beach stretching from Portland to West Bay and is one of Dorset’s most iconic landmarks.

It’s not your typical seaside beach, but wild, rugged and at the mercy of Mother Nature. It forms part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site and its pebbles are graded in size from potato-sized near Portland to pea-sized at Bridport.

They are made up of mainly flint and chert from the Cretaceous and Jurassic rocks, along with Bunter pebbles from Budleigh Salterton. It is believed that smugglers landing on the beach at night could judge their position along the coast simply by picking up a handful of shingle!

Chesil Beach is a mecca for fishing and West Bexington is one of the most popular spots. Just offshore is a unique strip of unbroken sand that offers fantastic opportunities for catching mackerel. In the summer months the bank is dotted with anglers and their families.

At the Dorset Wildlife Trust Fine Foundation Wild Chesil centre you can learn more about the wildlife of the area, including the Fleet Lagoon.

Swimming at Chesil Beach is dangerous and not advised as there is a strong under-tow and no lifeguards.

Thrift on Chesil Beach (c) Mark Heighes

Other places to visit

Lyme Regis and Uplyme

Walks, Jurassic Coast

Lyme Regis and Uplyme

Walk inland from Lyme Regis towards Uplyme following the path of the River Lim. Find beautiful countryside views and peaceful spots away from the hustle and bustle of the seafront.