A unique vista that looks as good on a grey, moody day as it does in the sunshine, Chesil Beach is a naturally dramatic location. Just half an hour's drive from Summer Lodge Country House Hotel Restaurant and Spa and The Acorn Inn, the beach has inspired several writers, including the Dorset-based author John Fowles, who described it as 'above all an elemental place, made of sea, shingle and sky, its dominant sound always that of waves on moving stone…' Chesil Beach is also the setting for Ian McEwan's 2007 novella, On Chesil Beach, the film version of which is set to be released this spring.
A short but powerful story by the acclaimed British novelist, On Chesil Beach was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize before being adapted for the screen. Directed by Dominic Cooke, the film script for On Chesil Beach has been reworked by Ian McEwan himself, and stars actors Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle as the two main characters, Florence and Edward. The film stays true to the plot of the book, which centres on a young newlywed couple spending their honeymoon at a bed & breakfast close to Dorset's Chesil Beach. Both Florence and Edward are prodigious university graduates and the reader meets them just at the start of their marriage, which takes place in the early 1960s, just before the emergence of the changing, more liberal attitudes that would come to define the decade. Tense and heart breaking, it is essentially a story of innocence, fear and tragic misunderstandings, with many of the story's most critical scenes taking place on Chesil Beach. Filmed on Chesil Beach itself, as well as elsewhere in the UK, like the novel the film is a poignant exploration of the power of things left unsaid and actions not taken, and the way in which they can shape the rest of our lives.
As well as being a source of creative inspiration, Chesil Beach is an iconic part of the Dorset coastline. This distinctive 18-mile shingle beach forms part of Dorset's Jurassic Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is described as a tombolo, a strip of sand, shingle or pebbles that connects two bits of land together. Here, the spit joins the Isle of Portland with Abbotsbury and the rest of the mainland. Not recommended for swimming or surfing, it's worth visiting for its distinct and unusual landscape alone. Stop by the Chesil Beach Centre whilst you're there to learn more about the beach and the wildlife that inhabit it. After a bracing walk along the shore, warm up at Taste Café, located on the beach, which serves a delicious menu of local Dorset foods such as a Portland crab sandwich or hearty homemade soup with a freshly baked cheese scone. Return to the cosy confines of Summer Lodge Country House Hotel Restaurant and Spa and The Acorn Inn and enjoy an excellent dinner after a day of exploring.
Explore Dorset's dramatic scenery, which has inspired writers for centuries, from the comfort of Summer Lodge Country House Hotel Restaurant and Spa or The Acorn Inn.Image Credits: Lead image (Chesil Beach and Foruneswell) © iStock/JoeDunckley. Chesil Beach © iStock/kodachrome25. Boardwalk Chesil Beach © iStock/Saba-95.