The unique island next to one of UK's busiest seaside towns – with 3 castles, pirate graves & dolphins offshore | The Sun

A UNIQUE UK island near to one of the country's most popular seaside towns is home to much quieter beaches, fascinating history and some

Staycations are becoming increasingly popular as holiday costs continue to rise, meaning the UK's beaches are also getting busier.

Weymouth is no exception, with thousands of people seen crowding on its shores, particularly on warmer days.

However, just a bit further up the coast, is Portland, which some people have praised for its "stunning" views and "beauty".

The island is home to some small secluded beaches like Church Ope Cove, which is a favourite of those who live nearby and like to escape the crowds of beach-goers on busier summer's days.

The beach sits in the shadows of Rufus Castle, a "bow and arrow" settlement on Portland that has looked out from the headland over the top of the cove since the 15th century.

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However, it's not only a favourite of locals, with swimmers and snorkelers making the most of the cliffs that provide shelter from winds on three different sides.

Divers are also fans of the beach too, with the cove providing them with good access to numerous shipwrecks in the surrounding waters.

There's more fascinating history to be seen near the beach too, with smugglers using it to bring items like alcohol, tobacco and coffee into the country.

There's even rumours that the ruins of the church nearby from where the cove gets its name is home to a pirate's grave.

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A stone tomb can be found with a Jolly Roger-style skull and crossbones on the end of it among the old graveyard.

However, the Dorset Echo claims that local historians have long-since disproved the tale.

That doesn't make the area any less inviting, though, with plenty of people still recommending it as a quiet place to enjoy a summer's day.

One of those is The Beach Guide, who claim that dolphins are also sometimes spotted by fortunate visitors.

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They wrote: "The beach is surrounded by cliffs on three sides which provide shelter from the often strong breeze in the area. As the beach faces south, it is also something of a sun trap throughout the day.

"Wildlife highlights here include a range of species of birds and if you are lucky you may even spot a passing dolphin in these waters.

"The beach is popular for swimming, snorkelling and diving."

Church Ope Cove has an overall rating of 4.5/5 on TripAdvisor, where it has been described as "stunning" and "beautiful" among other words.

One wrote: "I can’t get over just how beautiful this place was I’m totally in love.

"Not only stunning views but the hidden ruins of an old 13th century church and its graveyard with so called 'pirate graves'."

Another said: "The pebbly beach is beautifully remote, the beach huts add a touch of beauty."

A third added: "A lovely secluded cove that never seems to get too busy."

However visitors have also been warned that strong currents can be found away from the shoreline, while the beach itself is reached by a steep descent of more than 100 steps.

Luckily there are more easily accessible beaches on the island, including Chesil Beach, an 18-mile long shingle barrier stretching from Portland to West Bay – one of Dorset's most iconic landmarks.

As too are the two other castles that can be found on the island, including the artillery fort, Portland Castle, and the gothic mansion, Pennsylvania castle, both of which overlook the shoreline.

The lighthouse is also a popular site for tourists to visit, with guided tours available.

Accommodation on Portland can be found from £45pp per night, although camping nearby starts from around £10 per night for a pitch.

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Meanwhile, you can sip pints while watching dolphins and whales from the pub garden.

And these are some of the most tranquil staycation spots in the country.

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