Adventures at Willard Beach, Fort Preble, and Spring Point Ledge
“One moment I gaz’d from the hill’s gentle slope,
All hush’d was the billows’ commotion,
And tho’t that the Light-house look’d lovely as Hope,
That star of life’s tremulous ocean.” ~Thomas Moore
For years, I use to curse a long winding road in the heart of Portland, Maine. With confusing lights and a weird name, I did not enjoy driving on it. Years later, I discovered it was one of an assortment of things and places, named after a badass commodore. Aside from streets, and parks there is a naval ship, as well as a beach and fort that I have come to love. Oh the ironies of life.
As long as I have known my best friend, Tiffany, which honestly feels like eons when you are kindred spirits, she has talked about Willard Beach and Spring Point Ledge. And talked about it and talked about it and talked about it. We would make plans to go there, yet some how they would get thwarted with another light house always seeming to get in the way.
Finally after much adieu, we went last year on my birthday. I could not believe I had waited so long to go there! Nestled amongst the busy streets of Portland, Maine, was a mermaid’s playground. It wasn’t just Willard Beach we explored, but connected was a light house at the end of a rock jetty. As well as a fort named after the above mentioned famous guy. There were also buried treasures known as mermaid tears waiting to be found.
Immediately, I understood why she loved it so much. The secluded oasis of nature and waves, streets away from the busy epi-center of Portland. It felt like you were in The Garden of Eden, naughty and decadent all at once whilst being let in on a grand secret. It was an abundance of mermaid adventures waiting to be had and I was so ready to experience them.
Driving through winding roads (and yes that road named Preble) nestled near the Southern Maine Community College is a hidden gem known as Willard Beach. I don’t know who Willard is (there is a mountain in New Hampshire with the same name) but this beach is worth every hassle it takes finding it. Willard has its own free parking lot. It also has bathrooms and changing rooms, and are well kept, which is always important to this OCD-bladder size of a pea-cleanliness gal.
The beach has the perfect mixture of plush sand to lay out on. It gets rockier as you stroll closer to the water, making it perfect to search for some loot. It is a much quieter beach. Epic people watching, it is not. Though when I was there a couple weeks ago, I did see a sea-gull steal a bag of chips and then proceed to try to open them. It was quite entertaining especially when the guy tried to run after said sea-gull who was baiting him.
Finishing off the picturesque of Willard is the constant bobbing of sail boats moored close enough you could swim to them. It is the epitome of what a charming Maine coastal town is and makes me want to channel my inner Goldie Hawn, and sail on one.
Fort Preble was commissioned in 1808 and operated until 1950. Of all the Forts in Maine including Fort Williams, it was the most active, employed during the War of 1812, civil War and both World Wars. Named after famed commodore Edward Preble, who fought in the Barbary Wars and also happens to have his resting place there. In 1952 it was sold to the city of Portland and has since become the campus for Southern Maine Community College. The college uses many of the buildings that are still intact. Connecting Willard to Spring Point Ledge, many of the look-outs that were used for cannons and guns are still standing. Making it a fun place to explore, experience some history, and maybe even daydream of times long ago. It is also a beautiful place to channel your inner Heidi and take pictures. As my friend and I found out the lightening was perfect for many of the pictures we took.
Spring Point Ledge Light House:
Amongst Fort Preble’s old facade, about a miles walk from Willard, at the end of a breakwater you will find Spring Point Ledge. A spark plug light house built in 1897 due to the dangerous obstruction of the rocky coast, causing merchant ships to run aground. In 1999 it was opened to the public fulfilling every mermaid’s dream to at least explore a light house. Large boulders make it easier to walk out to the light house and enjoy a different perspective of the bay. It has a minuscule parking lot as well as an education center. More often then not, you will find people fishing at the end of the light house or those just enjoying the small beach on the other side of the jetty.
I love parking at Willard (which is much bigger) and walking along the beach to Fort Preble and Spring Point Ledge. The views alone make it worth it. Thanks to shipwrecks and an old landfill, you might just find some mermaid loot. The diverseness of the area makes for a fun action packed day if you want it, or just a calm relaxing one away from the craziness of the small coastal city it hides from. Not only is it one of my favorite places, but because of its location, you can visit year round.
Have you been? What is your favorite beachy hideaway you go to?