Hallelujah Bay

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Hallelujah Bay, looking south towards Clay Ope and Blacknor Point.

Hallelujah Bay is a bay located on the west side (West Weares area) of the Isle of Portland in Dorset, UK, and is part of the Dorset and East Devon Coast World Heritage Site. The bay can be viewed from above on the western clifftops, or reached by a dead end footpath commencing from the Chiswell esplanade. Further south alongside the west side of Portland is Clay Ope, which then leads to Blacknor Point, Mutton Cove, Wallsend Cove and Portland Bill respectively. Near the cove is a large mound of rock and earth beneath the clifftops known locally as the Green Hump. It is believed that the bay is so named because in the 1880s, Hiram Otter painted and carved religious texts on the rocks in this area.[1][2] The pebbles of the area are indigenous white Portland Stone, differing from those of the nearby Chesil Beach.

Often during the summer season, night lines left out by the locals can be found around Hallelujah Bay, while the area at the end of the bay is a favourite point for boat anglers after Conger.[3]


Hallelujah Bay and Tar Rocks.
Looking up to the clifftops from the bay.

The quarryman Hiram Otter became a stalwart of Portland's new Salvation Army Corps around 1885, and at this time he began creating a public footpath to continue from Chesil Cove, beneath West Weares, to the headland at Tar Rocks and Clay Ope beyond. As a man of great build and strength, he used his physical prowess to hand-jack large pieces of stone out of the way. The pathway was almost single-handedly created by Otter. He became renowned for the fact that he would etch biblical inscriptions and first lines of some of the Salvationists' hymns onto the boulders he successfully moved. Otter would then cry "Alleluia!" when each text was completed. As a result he christened the bay as Alleluia Bay (or Hallelujah Bay), which then became the local name for the indented coast between the Chesil Cove and Tar Rocks. At the same time, Silverwell, on the undercliff west of Priory Corner, was renamed Jacob's Well by Otter - a spring running under the area's large boulders.[4][5] Otter died in 1913, leaving Portland without his rich folklore, which once left listeners in awe.

The bay is popular for summer barbecues and bathing.[6] In 2012, the bay was used for an artistic celebration to coincide with Portland hosting the sailing events of the 2012 London Olympics. A large number of stacked towers of stone pebbles were balanced by a hundred locals of all ages. The event was organised by Portland Stone Stax (a group of three local artists). Footage of the art was uploaded onto YouTube. The event was held again at the bay in 2013, but due to access reasons the 2014 event was held in Chesil Cove.[7]

The path, an official public right of way, has been subject to landslips over the decades, which has caused Weymouth & Portland Borough Council to alter the course of the footpath. The successive councils have made continuous attempts to maintained the pathway, although it started to become neglected during the late 1980s. One part of the tarmac path almost became vertical in 1990 as a result of a large landslip under the unstable scree slopes.[8] In April 2014 the path was officially closed by the council due to landslides and falling rocks. A section of tarmac path had crumbled away, and its adjoining railings destroyed.

Tar Rocks[edit]

Tar Rocks is located at the bay, and consist of joint-bounded Portland Stone. The rocks are a relic of an ancient landslide, and cannot be moved by the sea, and as such they have not been rounded or smoothed by abrasion. The majority are hidden at high tide, and were probably once the remains of an old topple of stone high in the cliff. The fall was unlikely to have been more recent than about a thousand years ago.[9] The British cargo steamer SS Thames, (399grt), was wrecked at Tar Rocks on 2 January 1891, when on route from Penzance for London, with a cargo of stone and tin.[10] The vessel driven ashore in fog.[11] In 1930 SS Barmston, a collier, was wrecked at Tar Rocks, and became a total loss.[12]


Coordinates: 50°32′52″N 2°27′05″W / 50.547743°N 2.451265°W / 50.547743; -2.451265