The Fine Foundation Chesil Beach Centre
Visit us at the Chesil Beach Centre to discover all about Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon. Our family-friendly visitor Centre has interactive displays about the formation of the beach, local wildlife and history. Glimpse under the lagoon with our underwater camera, try a spot of bird watching, explore our marine touch table and listen to stories of fishermen who worked on the beach.
PLEASE NOTE: To keep visitors and colleagues safe there are Covid-19 safety measures in place including, limiting the number of people in the Centre at any one time, social distancing, one-way systems, hand cleaning stations and card payments only. Face coverings need to be worn in the Centre except when sitting down to eat at the Taste* Café.
Know before you go
Parking informationThere is ample pay and display parking close to the Centre. See access information for more details.
The visitor centre is on the South West Coast path on the Legacy Trail. The Centre is situated right next to the beach with views to Portland and along the Jurassic Coast to Bridport.
For a different perspective on your coast path walk, why not hop on a hour-long boat trip on the Fleet Explorer to find out more about this internationally important Marine Protected Area.
There is disabled parking next to the Centre (charges apply) and a disabled toilet outside the Centre. The Centre itself is wheelchair accessible, and the boardwalk is suitable for wheelchairs and mobility vehicles but does not extend over the beach.
Some access restricted on the beach during the bird breeding season.
Find out more about car park charges here.
When to visit
Opening timesPLEASE NOTE: Jan 2021 - February half term, the Visitor Centre and Taste Cafe opening hours will be: Wed - Sun 10am - 4pm. We have shorter opening hours during this time to carry out essential maintenance work.
The Visitor Centre is open 7 days a week.
Opening Hours: 10am – 4pm
10am – 5pm (spring & summer Dorset school holidays)
Best time to visitAll year round.
About the reserve
A walk up the beach reveals stunning sea views and a panorama including Portland and the Fleet Lagoon. A boardwalk next to the Centre allows easy access to the beach. In the Centre enjoy an underwater camera and a bird watching window with binoculars to see the array of birdlife that visit the mudflats. In spring the shingle turns into a sea of pink thrift that stretches towards Portland. Sea campion, kidney vetch, yellow horn poppy and other coastal specialists are also found on the beach. Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon are internationally protected for their birdlife, which include wading birds such as dunlin, sanderling and ringed plover as well hundreds of brent geese and other winter wildfowl. There is rare colony of little terns which breed on the beach in the spring.
Enjoy a tasty treat at the Taste* Cafe at Chesil to make the most of your day with us.
For a wealth of information about the geography, geology and wildlife of Chesil Beach & the Fleet Lagoon, click here.
The Fleet Explorer
PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately, to ensure the safety of our passengers and skippers, we will not be running any Fleet Explorer trips summer/autumn 2020 due to Covid-19. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope to welcome you back next season if it is safe to do so.
Explore Chesil Beach and the Fleet Lagoon by boat, with daily trips during the spring and summer season on the Fleet Explorer. A great way for nature enthusiasts, families and tourists to discover the secrets of the area. The Fleet Explorer is owned and run by Dorset Wildlife Trust.
The Little Tern Project on Chesil Beach
For eight years a partnership of organisations have worked together to help the Chesil Beach little tern colony, which had dropped in size from 100 pairs in 1997 to just 10 in 2008. Little terns are graceful seabirds that migrate from Africa to breed on UK beaches in summer. They have started to return to Chesil Beach, the UK’s most south westerly colony.
Shop at the Chesil Centre
We stock a range of wildlife inspired gifts, educational toys, wildlife books and local artwork. We are also stockists for Opticron, and have a great selection of binoculars, as well as running special optics events throughout the year.
All profits from our shop go directly back into our conservation work, so when you treat yourself, or a loved on, you are treating your local wildlife too.
Many of our products are also available in the DWT online shop.
Volunteering at the Chesil Centre
The Chesil Beach Centre is run by a team of local volunteers. If you are interested in wildlife or the local area, and would like to join us, please get in touch. No specialist knowledge is required just enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, help with the centre and talk to the public.
It’s a great way to meet people, learn about your local wildlife and help support Dorset Wildlife Trust. There is a programme of social and training activities for volunteers, and you can also to attend most of our public events for free!
If you can spare a few hours a week, and would like to find out more, then email: email@example.com or phone us on 01305 206191.
We have lots of volunteering opportunities at Dorset Wildlife Trust. Find out more here.
Dorset Wildlife Trust promotes eco-crabbing and encourages local people and visitors to enjoy crabbing in an eco-friendly way.
Using hooks, over filling your bucket and not keeping the water cool and fresh, can cause a serious problem for crabs but this can be avoided with Dorset Wildlife Trust’s 5 simple steps:.
Five simple ‘sideways’ steps for a happy crab:
- Use bait bags instead of hooks;
- Have fewer than 3 crabs in a bucket at any one time;
- Replace the water frequently;
- Keep the water in the shade;
- Don’t leave litter.
Take a moment to care for the marine wildlife you find.
Sponsor a Plank
Sponsor a plank
We would like to give you the chance to leave a lasting reminder of what Chesil Beach and its wildlife means to you or someone close to you.
For only £50 you can sponsor a plank and have a brass plaque bearing your message permanently installed on the boardwalk leaving a lasting contribution to this special place.
Your sponsorship money will be used to fund the education work at the Centre. Contact 01305 206191 to find out more.