Portland Pathways

Dorset Portland
01/04/2018 - 01/04/2018

Portland Pathways was a project looking at the historic origins of footpaths on Portland.

Many of the footpaths and bridleways we use today have their origins in routes travelled hundreds or thousands of years ago – these routes are now enshrined in our public rights of way. They not only record how we have navigated our landscape in the past, telling stories of our landscape and built environment, but also provide public access to landscapes and historic sites which otherwise may not be possible.

The distinct geology and geography of the Isle of Portland has determined a very individual development and a place of significant historic and environmental interest. A limestone block with steep cliffs and treacherous seas on all sides it has presented a physical challenge for inhabitants and the various industries that have exploited its assets and resources. As a result its heritage is very much part of its landscape and its footpath network not only records this but is the best way to discover it.

The project brought together a group of local residents to research the histories of these paths. Under the guidance of a Research Coordinator Bea Moyes the group had training to develop their research skills and visited local archives and museums, interviewed local residents, and joined a series of research walks across Portland. Each participant was able to conduct their own research into a particular area of this history they were interested in, from evidence of the earliest pathways on the Island, to recent struggles to preserve and protect these footpaths. Their research was collated into a research report and copies deposited at The Dorset History Centre and Portland Heritage Trust Study Centre.

Portland Pathways was funded by The Heritage Lottery Fund.