Archive | February, 2013

Of dancing waves, hovering clouds, diving Chinooks, and patterns in the sand!

21 Feb

This is a walk that started with one of my favourite modes of transport, the ferry that plies its trade to and fro across the entrance to Poole Harbour.  As the ferry leaves on its journey, we can see the results of the devastating action of the tides which have over the years undermined the foreshore putting buildings at risk.  It seems that no matter what man does, he cannot defeat the forces of nature.

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Repairing the foreshore

This is a ferry that I have travelled on all my life, in fact I travelled this even before I was born…..in my mother’s womb :)!  I like it so much that I bought a metre of the chain to add to the cornucopia of quirky things that I have collected on my walks over the years and that now adorn my garden.  Why only a metre?  Well, it is heavy and it took two of us to lift just that length into the car!  The chains are each 1,235 feet long and are replaced every 15 to 18 months because they stretch and wear out – so I have a very small piece of history in my garden :)!

Getting off the ferry is like entering another world, we leave one side inhabited by man and land on the other side inhabited by nature.  Suddenly we are transported from some of the most expensive real estate in the world into the wide open spaces with three miles of the most broad, clean, sandy beaches you could wish to find!

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Wide open spaces

Flanked by the most delightful sand dunes and beyond that, acres of heather clad heathland – entering this world, you just revel in the sense of freedom and with the bracing wind blowing off the sea, you can just feel yourself coming alive!  No matter how many times I walk this beach, I never lose that wonderful sense of freedom………and I never run out of new photos to take!

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The beauty of the sand dunes

On this day the wind was strong and the waves rolled relentlessly to the shore, one after the other without losing any momentum.  As one finally dissipates its energy onto the beach, another three pile in behind it, like some perpetual motion machine.  Standing on the shore, you get some sense of what King Canute must have felt!  And that great Iona song, ‘Wave After Wave’ comes to mind.

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Three in a row

Even with their relentless and unceasing power, the waves do not have it all their own way as the wind seemingly does battle with them, whipping the tops off as they break.  What an amazing sight and one that a photo can never do justice to.  As we stand watching the dancing waves and flitting spray carrying out their performance, it is like watching a well choreographed stage show, only so much better!  Ah the wonders of God’s creation completely outdoes the best that man can offer!

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Whipping the wave tops

Even the clouds seem to join in as they hover like giant airships!  As we watch them, we can’t help but let our imaginations run free and wonder what it would be like to stand on top and see the world from their perspective.

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A hovering airship!

This beach is not only a walker’s paradise but it is a horse rider’s paradise too as the local stables offer beach rides in the winter months.  The picture below just typifies freedom to me.

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Freedom

But it is time for us to leave this captivating scene and head on with our walk.  Passing through a delightful village, we cross the graveyard that surrounds the beautiful Norman church and it is alive with snowdrops – a timely reminder that spring, and new birth, is not too far away.

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Snowdrops in the churchyard

And then beyond the village we are met with a stiff climb that takes us up onto a ridge of hills and once again we are met with that same bracing wind that has us reaching for our gloves again.  From here we have amazing views back across the village and beyond we can see almost the whole of the four miles we have walked so far.  In the summer, these hills are rife with skylarks rising high above but today, it is a bird of a very different kind that sings overhead!

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What a view

With a thunderous roar, like a giant bird coming out of the sun, the Chinook appears…..and it will accompany us for some time.  This is a military machine on manoevers, landing on the headland and hovering over the water by turns, depositing and picking up troops on a training exercise.  With precision timing, it is another, if different, spectacle to behold.  As much as I love the solitude and silence of the countryside, these helicopters make an awesome sight with their massive power and yet incredible manoeuvrability – to quote Cassius Clay, they ‘float like a butterfly and sting like a bee’!

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A bird of a different kind

With the Chinook following us, we continue on our way round the famous landmark that is Old Harry Rocks with its strong tidal race curving around the headland.  A few years ago I kayaked round these stacks which was easy and great fun on the way out but somewhat more difficult on the way back, fighting a fast flowing tide.  By the time I reached the safety of the beach, my arms felt like lead but it was great to see this chalk headland from a different viewpoint.

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Old Harry Rocks

Having stopped off to enjoy a flask of hot Bovril at the top of the chalk cliffs in the one sheltered spot that was available, we continue along the track that leads back to the beach as for the last three miles, we would be retracing our steps from earlier in the day.  By now the tide had gone out, revealing another of those quirky things that litter this coast.

This is The Training Bank, a man made reef of rocks laid to help maintain the deep water channel through the entrance to Poole Harbour by directing the tidal flow.  This is only visible at low tide and it makes an interesting spectacle stretching out across the bay towards Old Harry Rocks.

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The Training Bank

One of the amazing things about The Training Bank is the beautiful red seaweed which clothes all of the rocks.

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Red seaweed

I love walking the beach as the sun sets.  Apart from the wonderful peace, the soft evening light and low tide just seem to bring out the most beautiful patterns in the sand.  It is a sight that I can never resist photographing!

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Patterns in the sand

As we near the end of the walk, we have to cross several streams that are watersheds from the heathland.  These are normally shallow and no bother to cross but with the rain that we have had in recent times, they were somewhat deeper than normal and the result of this is………wet feet!  Ah well, I normally manage to get wet feet anyway as I am usually so busy taking pictures at the water’s edge that I don’t notice the incoming tide reaching out to grab me by the ankles ;)!  Reflecting the post sunset glow in the sky, these little streams do make picturesque subjects for the camera :)!

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Watershed wonder

And of course, the dunes with their Marram Grass also provide some photographic fodder :)!

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Sunset in the dunes

And so finally after a fantastic day along the Dorset coast we reach the ferry again.  Now that the sun has gone, the temperature dips to below freezing so the little bit of protection that the ferry provides is welcome.  And we take the ride back across the harbour entrance with just the last remaining glow in the sky.  What a great day!

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A twilight journey back

Thanks for joining me on this walk – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

Be blessed!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

 

Happiness is snow shaped :)

3 Feb

Now Dorset and snow don’t usually go together, especially South Dorset!  We get the occasional light scattering, just to tantalise us and remind us of what we are missing and it has usually gone within hours.  But recently we actually had a fall of snow that was worth walking in……and I did just that :)!  Now I don’t like snow for what it does to the community, the slippery roads that can make driving difficult, and the effect it has on the elderly who can’t get out, but I love it for the effect it has on the landscape, turning it into a magical fairyland, a delight to walk in!

This walk started from a wonderful Dorset village, probably one of the prettiest you could wish to see, a designer village that exists simply because one man didn’t want the view from his manor house spoilt by houses and cottages!  But more of that later.

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A designer village cottage

The village nestles in a valley with its single street lined on both sides with identical cottages and with its almshouses and church part way down.  These cottages are always picturesque but with the myriad icicles hanging from the eaves of each one, they took on a real fairy story look – you could almost expect to see Hansel and Gretel appear from the doorway!

I have said that the cottages are all identical, and they are from the outside, but internally they now differ.  With their single front door, you would imagine that they were all built as substantial single dwellings but in fact they were semi-detached – inside the front door of each was a lobby with secondary front doors into separate cottages on each side.  There was much overcrowding in the days when these were built and it is said that at one time as many as 36 people lived in one of these small cottages……with two bedrooms!  Many have now been knocked into one single larger cottage.

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The post office and shop

As I walked down this street, I met one of the villagers and we fell into conversation – I was to bump into him again later in the walk.  He had lived in the village for 14 months and was undertaking a project to film the village through the year.  Naturally with rare snow on the ground, he was making the most of this as he captured the scene!  As I left him and continued down the road, I wondered if he was still filming and if I would feature in his production!

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A beautiful lane

From the village, my route took me down a lovely lane with parkland on each side and past one of the many manor houses that stand in the area.  High on the side of the hill, this manor house had commanding views across this beautiful valley.

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One of the manor houses

But this manor house would pale into insignificance compared to the main feature in this part of Dorset, the magnificent Milton Abbey and House.

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Milton Abbey and its grounds

The abbey was originally founded in 925 by King Athelstan although those buildings were destroyed by fire in 1309.  The current abbey dates from the 14th and 15th century and as huge as the church is, it is only a fraction of what it was meant to be as the eastern chapels have been demolished and the main nave was never built.  An interesting story is told of John Tregonwell who at the age of 5 fell from the tower……and lived!  It seems that his petticoat which was the fashion of the day acted as a parachute, enabling him to ‘land’ safely!

The parkland around the abbey, designed by Capability Brown, is truly magnificent and my walk took me through this beautiful countryside.

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Through the parkland

Coming to the end of the lane in the picture above gives us a chance to turn and look back at not only the church itself but also the impressive mansion that is attached to it.  This was the home of Joseph Damer, later Lord Milton.  He bought the estate from the Tregonwell family who had acquired the abbey after the dissolution of the monasteries to use as their private residence.  Joseph Damer had the ‘new’ mansion built in 1774.

At the time, the village, then known as Middleton, was below it in the valley but Joseph Damer did not like his view being ‘spoilt’ by the cottages so he had them all demolished and built a new village out of sight round the corner!  As hard as that was for the then villagers, one of whom refused to leave and had to be literally flooded out, I guess we have him to thank for the picturesque 18th century designer village we now see.

The abbey and house, as is often the case with old mansions, has now been turned into a private school.

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Across the Capability Brown parkland

But we must move on!  For a short time, our route takes us along a quiet country lane where I again bumped into my friend with his camera filming a different view of village life.  And in the distance we can see the next unspoilt village on this walk.

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Down the country lane

But we don’t stay on the road long before detouring across the fields and footpaths to reach that village.

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Across fields and footpaths

Eventually the path brings us out to another of those quintessentially Dorset villages with its delightful thatched cottages and its church standing proud in the centre.

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An unspoilt Dorset village

It is always a pleasure walking through this interesting village whatever the time of year but all too soon, we have to head out into the country again to climb up to one of the highest points in Dorset with its amazing views over the Blackmore Vale and across four different counties.

The route up will take us through varied scenery.

Through beautiful woodlands…….

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……..through lovely open farmland…….

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…….and out onto the open hillside with another of my favourite views back down the valley.  Amazingly, the gorse here was still in flower and provided a lovely splash of yellow in a monochrome landscape.

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On the open hillside

Reaching the ridge of the hill, my route took me along the country lane which was a blessing because the views are spectacular and walking on the road means that you can enjoy the scenery to the full without having to look where you are walking……..well, apart from the occasional patch of ice ;)!  Now I know why I carry a walking pole – it has saved my backside several times :)!

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The Blackmore Vale

Soon though I had to turn off the road and drop down into another snowy valley and along this section, it was 12 inches deep in places………apart from where the sheep had worn it away in their quest to find grass.

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Snow grazing!

And I even managed to find some virgin snow, not yet walked upon, it almost seemed a shame to spoil it.  I never could resist a gate or stile and in the virgin snow, this gate looked particularly attractive.

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The gate and the virgin snow

So I spoilt the snow by walking across it :) and then continued down the valley along a lovely farm lane.

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Looking both ways!

As I was walking down this section, the clouds produced a spectacular display and it seemed like it was just for me as it added a different dimension to the pictures.  Eventually I had to climb up the side of the valley again and spoil yet more virgin snow which came up to my knees making it hard work climbing up what wasn’t really a very steep hill.  But there is always something special about being the first person to walk in the snow :)!

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Almost too lovely to spoil!

And it was the same as I crossed the next field; and looking back with the snow, the sunshine and the blue sky, it was quite breathtaking.  Just stand with me a moment and admire the creator’s handiwork.  ‘The fool has said in his heart there is no God’.

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Rolling hills of snow

And so it was on down the farm track again where I could feel less guilty because the tractors had already christened the snow ;)!  It was along this section that there was a sad sight – animal tracks in the snow with drops of blood at regular intervals :(!  I wondered what had made the tracks and whether they had survived……..I hope so!

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Tractor tracks

We are nearing the end of the walk now but there is yet another valley to drop into and a view made all the better by the foreground stubble that has managed to poke through the layer of snow on this more sheltered side of the hill.  With the patchwork quilt of snowy fields on the opposite hillside, it made a delightful view as the light faded into evening.

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In the fading light

And so my route brought me full circle as I dropped into the designer village again to pass the now redundant old school with its streetlamp shining brightly out into the gathering gloom.  And the rows of cottages in the distance seem to welcome me back.

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The old school

As I look back at this walk, it brings back such great memories, memories of post card perfect views across not only a designer village but also a designer landscape with its natural beauty enhanced by a heavy fall of snow.  It was a 12 mile walk that felt more like 20, but it was 20 miles of heaven on earth :)!  But aren’t all walks in this amazing creation like that?

I have put up more pictures than I normally would but I hope you have enjoyed walking with me!

Be blessed!

Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.

Until next time,
Your friend
The Dorset Rambler.

If you would like to contact me, my details are on my website which is http://www.yarrowphotography.com – comments and feedback are welcomed.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

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