Portland Pathways Research Group Exhibition

b-side festival’s Portland based project space OUTPOST is hosting a really fascinating exhibition of research uncovered by members of the Portland Pathways Research Group.

The Portland Pathways Research Group have uncovered some fascinating histories of Portland’s footpaths and rights of way as part of the Portland Pathways project. From stories of Hiram Otter, who is said to have built part of the path along the West Weares, inscribing rocks with scripture in tar along the route from Chiswell to Allelujah Bay, to histories of the pathways around the Medieval Windmills and the fisherman’s paths from the East Weares.

“There was no barbed wire,

there was no restrictive fences, 

they wouldn’t have this kind of thing…….

When freedom as we know it dies, 

This will be home no more.”

Skylark Durston (Portland’s much loved poet)

The project has uncovered evidence of some of the earliest tracks taken by Portlanders in Roman times, as well the drove paths of sheep herders taking their sheep and goats to pasture, and the pathways which connected lawnsheds across the Island. The group spoke to local residents, recording their stories of the pathways, from walkers to horse riders and dog-walkers, birdwatchers, and those who have walked the pathways every season to collect blackberries, apples, sloes and plants like Valerian (known as ‘kiss-me-quick’), known by Portlanders as a herbal remedy.

Considering pathways from the perspective of wildlife, they’ve researched the pathways of Portland’s migrating birds, badgers and limpets, making their own tracks across the Island, but also how today, many paths are being lost as they become overgrown through lack of use and coastal erosion.

“These histories have also unearthed something important about the anarchistic spirit of Portlanders, fighting for their rights of way over the centuries. From the snipping of fences, and re-routing of pathways, to the more recent campaigns to protect and list the rights of way on Portland undertaken by the Portland Field Research Group in the 1960s to the 1990s.”

Bea Moyes Research Coordinator

Following a successful Heritage Lottery Fund application b-side received £10,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund for an exciting project exploring the Isle of Portland’s footpaths and rights of way. ‘Portland Pathways’ has been made possible by money raised by National Lottery players and has involved a team of community researchers, an artist and will lead to the production of new map.

The exhibition is open:

Thurs 07 June, Fri 08 June , Sat 09 June

12 – 4pm

Entry is free

More info HERE