Durdle Pier is an 17th-century stone shipping quay on the eastern coastline of Portland, and would have been used to ship stone for Sir Christopher Wren's workings to rebuild London after the Great Fire of 1666. As quarries moved inland from the cliffs, fishermen became the pier's main users, and the crane remained one of the few left standing on the island. Sadly the old rusted crane, which itself was the main attraction of the pier, was destroyed in the storms of early 2014. Three separate parts of the destroyed crane lie further north along the coastline now.
I was fortunate to have made my first proper visit back in the summer of 2013 when the crane was still standing. Despite the fact that this important feature has now gone, there are still some interesting features about the pier, including parts of the crane still on site, and other vague reminders of the site's industrial past. For anyone with a particular interest in World War II, above the pier there are two pillboxes still standing in good and accessible condition. These two are unusual as they are camouflaged pillboxes, built of Portland Stone, and therefore designed to blend in with the boulder strewn area.
It is not the easiest place to get to, and without the crane the pier isn't particularly worth going alone for. However the surrounding lower coast path that runs along near the pier offers some excellent panoramic views across to the harbour and out across the cliffs of Dorset. The pier location itself is still great for a relaxing stop within its serene setting, if you happen to be walking within the vicinity.
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