The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 2

20 May

DAY 3 – STRUMBLE HEAD to TREFIN – 14.3 miles

I was up early to break camp and pack away my tent which was wet with dew.  By 7.30am I was on my way to the coast path again as I had had to walk inland yesterday to find somewhere for my night stop.  I soon passed the Strumble Head lighthouse which stands on Ynys Meicel (St Michael’s Island).  This was built in 1908 to replace a lightship, previously moored off shore, and was one of the last to be built in Britain.

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Strumble Head Lighthouse in the early morning light

The path was once again winding and full of ups and downs but the scenery was spectacular, especially on this glorious sunny day. On this part of the walk, I passed various wartime relics, the remains of barracks, lookout posts and other paraphernalia, and the peak of Garn Fawr was ever present.

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Military remains with Garn Fawr in the background

Once again, I passed very few walkers along this stretch although there were a few people on the various beaches I crossed.  The day was ‘energy sappingly’ warm and the path was rough and rocky for much of the way which meant that my feet became sore despite all the miles that I regularly walk.  But the coast was beautifully rugged and there were stretches of flatter, easier walking.

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Beautifully rugged

I passed a long dry stone wall that was apparently labelled by the builder, ‘The Great Wall of China’!

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The Great Wall of China?

After some miles I dropped down into Abercastle, another of those inlets that provided a harbour for trading vessels over a great many years.  It was a delightful place with its cluster of cottages and remains from its past, a derelict lime kiln, an old granary and the remains of a lime-burners cottage.  It was a place to linger awhile!

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Abercastle

But I still had more miles to walk so after a short break I continued on my way, rounding the Pen Castell-coch headland with its soft grass and spring flowers, and skylarks singing overhead.   Eventually I reached Aber Draw, the beach for Trefin, my stopping point for the night.  This is a mainly rocky beach but it has an interesting ruin in Trefin Mill, a once thriving corn mill that served the farming community in the 19th century.

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Trefin Mill at Aber Draw

From this point, I made my way inland to find my campsite in the village of Trefin.  I arrived at the campsite mid-afternoon and made the most of my time catching up on some laundry and drying of wet things.  At this overnight stop, I had the benefit of a village pub so went there for a meal and to charge my phone.  Whilst there, I met a coupe who were doing the same walk as I was although they were using B&B and baggage transfer rather that backpacking.  Apparently we had passed each other on the trail yesterday!

What a great day this has been with glorious sunshine and great views all day.  Little did I know what was to come!

DAY 4 – TREFIN to WHITESANDS BAY – 12 miles

Wow, what a night!  Pouring rain and gusty gale force winds, my little tent got pummelled! Sleep was just impossible as there was so much noise from the trees and the flapping tent.  I felt quite cut off in the sense that to get out of the tent, to go to the toilet for instance, would have been impossible without getting soaked and letting rain into the tent.  In the dark, I wondered, ‘What if I haven’t pushed the tent pegs in enough, what if the tent leaks?’!  But all was well and when morning came everything was still in place……and dry!  In fact, after the awful weather of the night, I woke to sunshine………..but it wasn’t to last!

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Cyclists pass me by at Aber Draw in the early morning sunshine

I had breakfast, broke camp, packing away a very wet tent, and set off walking at 7.30am, retracing my steps initially down the road to Aber Draw.  I didn’t have the road to myself as I was passed by lots of cyclists – this was the weekend of The Tour of Pembrokeshire.  I decided that walking was easier as they struggled up the hill against the stiff wind!

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Soon I was out on the coast path again in glorious sunshine and I paused to look back at my route yesterday.  The walking was good and after just a couple of miles I dropped down into Porthgain one of Pembrokeshire’s really interesting places.  With lots of industrial activity in the area, the little harbour was once used to export roadstone, slates and bricks and includes a large disused brickworks as well as lime kilns and other derelict buildings.  I stood by the harbour wall taking pictures just as the rain began to fall again!  If you look carefully you can see the rainbow in the picture below.

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Porthgian Harbour……with rainbow!

Climbing out of the delightful harbour, I passed the old pilot house and came across lots of remains from the industrial past with a large slate/shale quarry, including numerous derelict buildings and a deep tramway cutting.  It was a place I would love to have explored but by now the rain was falling heavily!

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Derelict quarry buildings and old tramway cutting at Porthgain

This again was a day of deep inlets that meant weaving a very crooked path as I walked around the various headlands.  Visibility deteriorated considerably – it was perhaps a typical Welsh day!

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Deep inlets and a circuitous route

Occasionally the sun came out briefly and I took the opportunity to grab a few shots of this spectacular coast.

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The sun makes a brief appearance

But all too soon it was gone again and the weather closed in around me again.  And what weather! The most appalling weather imaginable, pounding rain, powerfully gusting winds that were so strong it was difficult to walk against.  Losing my footing constantly on the wet muddy and rocky path with its steep climbs, I fell numerous times despite being extra careful how I trod.  The rain cover on my rucksack was ripped off time and again by the wind!

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St David’s Head in poor visibility and driving rain

As hard as it was, the weather seemed to suit this coastline perfectly, bringing out its deep character.  St David’s Head is in many ways reminiscent of the mountains of Scotland, North Wales and the Lake District – numerous rocky outcrops like mini mountain peaks.  The only difference was that you had the sea on one side.  Unsurprisingly I passed no other walkers until the welcome sight of Whitesands Bay appeared as I rounded the last headland of the day – this was to be my stopping point for the night.  A day walker passed me by, shouting above the noise of the wind, ‘The forecast for the next couple of days is better’!  I hoped so!

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Whitesands Bay appears out of the gloom

After hours of struggling to put one foot in front of the other against what was a solid wall of ferocious wind and rain, it was wonderful to drop down into the relatively sheltered Whitesands Bay………and there was a cafe there………and it was open despite the weather :)!  I gladly sat down and ordered a pot of hot, steaming tea!

Refreshed, I walked up the road to the little campsite that was to be my home for the night.  Being slightly inland, this was a little more sheltered and I put my tent up in the rain.  Later that evening, the rain stopped and I went for a stroll around the beach to check my route out tomorrow morning.  The waves and surf rolling up the beach were a sight to behold.

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Waves and surf and my route out tomorrow

As I wandered back to my tent, the wind finally abated, the clouds began to clear and there was a beautiful sunset.  What a difference an hour or two can make!

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A beautiful sunset across Whitesands Bay

I laid in my tent wondering what tomorrow would bring!

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Part 1

10 May

DAY 0 – ST DOGMAELS to CEMAES HEAD – 3 miles

Why the ‘DAY 0′ title?  Well this was to be mainly a day travelling to the starting point of the walk, and a laborious journey it was too.  At 5.45am the alarm went off and I leapt out of bed……well more ‘fell’ out of bed really!  After a quick breakfast my wife, Chris, took me to the station to catch the 6.41am train.  The morning was dull and grey – not very inspiring!  And it was hard saying goodbye to Chris too – I wondered why I was doing it!  Three trains, two buses, a taxi and a walk later I arrived at the starting point in St Dogmaels, Pembrokeshire……..and I went to the pub :)!  For food as there was nowhere after this point where I would be able to eat.

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The Ferry Inn, St Dogmaels

I had a cooked meal and asked if they did sandwiches as I needed food for tomorrow, but annoyingly they didn’t.  This meant that, having eaten, I had to retrace my steps a mile or two back up the road into the village to find the nearest shop.  Lesson 1 – think ahead!  Finally, much later than intended, and just as the rain began to fall again, I arrived back at the official starting point (or finishing point depending on which way you do the walk) and could begin my trek.

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The official starting/finishing point for the Pembrokeshire Coast Path

With most of the day being taken up with travelling, it was to be a short walk of around 3 miles to my first camp, a farm at Cemaes Head, but it was all uphill!  I arrived at the camp in the early evening light with rain still falling, thinking about the difficulties of putting a tent up on sloping ground in the wet and about packing it away again wet tomorrow, when the farmer greeted me.  “Ah’, he said, “I’ve just put some yurts up for the new season so you are welcome to use one of those for the same price as a tent as it is so wet”.  Well he didn’t need to offer twice and I moved in!  Yes, it was basic, but it was dry and much more spacious than my little one man tent, and I wouldn’t have to pack it away wet tomorrow :)!

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My camp for the first night

One of the problems with camping at this time of the year is that the evenings are chilly, and with no pub within walking distance, what do you do to keep warm?  Well you go for a walk of course…….which I did, all around the headland.

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Cardigan Bay and Cardigan Island from Cemaes Head on a wet evening

It has been a good day.  The travel arrangements all went smoothly although not without some confusion and discomfort on the trains.  What will tomorrow, my first real day on the trail, bring?

DAY 1 – CEMAES HEAD to beyond NEWPORT – 14 miles

I woke to the sound of pouring rain and strong winds pounding on the yurt!  Having breakfasted and packed, I donned waterproofs and set out.  The going was really hard, a combination of driving rain in my face, strong gusty winds, a muddy and slippery path, and a very heavy pack, plus of course a route that went up and down more times than an escalator.

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On Cemaes Head

Very early in the day I climbed up and over Pen Yr Afr, the highest point of the whole walk at over 575 feet, with its amazing folded strata.  The day quickly became a bit of a slog and I just put my head down and kept walking, trying as best I could to keep the stinging rain off my face.  Taking photographs was difficult as the camera got soaked every time I took it out of its bag.  It seemed cruel because this was potentially the best and most rugged part of the whole walk and I couldn’t fully enjoy it because visibility was limited and besides, I had to watch my feet constantly.  I needn’t have worried, there were many more rugged parts to come!

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Limited visibility and muddy paths

The guide book had already warned me that the far northern section was the hardest with very steep climbs and slippery descents and in fact there were virtually no flat parts at all.  Weaving in and out of various inlets and rocky outcrops, I passed Carreg Wylan Stacks.  These just seemed to typify this coastline, a switchback of rugged rock formations.

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Carreg Wylan Stacks 

Despite the rugged beauty of the coastline, it became a challenge to just reach my campsite at the end of the day, such was the ferocity of the wind and rain – and I wondered why I was doing it!  A signpost rubbed my nose in it by reminding me that I still had 81/2 miles to walk!

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A long way to go on the switchback

Then in the afternoon the rain stopped, visibility gradually improved, and finally the sun made an appearance – and I knew why I was doing it!  The scenery was breathtaking and the ruggedness was picked out by the sun slanting across the landscape.  It didn’t make the pack any lighter or the climbs any less steep, but it helped.

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Brightness at last

Mid afternoon, with aching muscles, I walked into Newport knowing that I only had a mile or two to walk to reach my camp for the night.  I had met few walkers during the day, well only one in fact, a young girl who admitted that she was a ‘fair weather walker’ who had only set out when the rain cleared.  Late afternoon I pitched my tent in a wonderful spot with amazing views across Newport Sands and the coastline I had walked during the day.

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Newport Sands

What a day, what a start! The expression ‘jumping in at the deep end’ came to mind!  Would I describe it as a great day?  Yes definitely because I had a real sense of achievement at having made it through despite the conditions.  But more than that, the conditions I had walked in somehow really suited this rugged coastline and brought out its character in a way that the sun can’t do.  I had been concerned because this first day is said to be the most challenging part of the whole walk, not what you want to hear when you have arthritic knees and ankles.  I had feared that I might not be able to make it but in the end, they caused me no problems at all.  I was a happy man as I sat and watched the sun go down over the Pembrokeshire Coast, and settled back into my tent for the night.

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A beautiful sunset to end the first day

DAY 2 – NEWPORT to STRUMBLE HEAD – 17 miles

The day dawned with a beautiful sunrise, a welcome sight after yesterday’s rain.  Having breakfasted and packed, I put on my still sodden shoes and set out along the coast again, feeling slightly stiff from my efforts of yesterday.

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Sunshine – a welcome sight and a beautiful morning

It didn’t take long to reach my first stopping point of the day, Cwm-Yr-Eglwys (the valley of the church), with its ruined church right on the edge of the water.  The church had served the local hamlet and once seated 300 but coastal erosion had been its downfall.  This was such a beautiful spot and I sat for a while just drinking in the warm sunshine and the lovely view across the bay.

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Cmm-Yr-Eglwys

Today’s main feature was to be the climb up and over Dinas Island, not an island at all but a headland.  Distinctively shaped like a 50p coin but with five sides, the headland has one side connected to the land and four surrounded by sea.  It would be a short and fairly level hop to walk the one side attached to the land but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t walk all around the whole headland although this proved a hard walk with steep climbs over the highest point, Pen Y Fan at 466 feet.  The views more than made up for the effort needed though.

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The view from Dinas Island

I passed a few walkers on route as this particular headland makes a very nice day walk, although I had still not met any other ‘end to enders’.  Dropping down off the high headland, I reached Pwllgwaelod (don’t you just love these Welsh names), a lovely bay from which I could view the coastline that would be my companion for several hours.

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Pwllgwaelod and the coastline to come

One of the features of this coast is that you can often see where you are headed in the distance but it seems to take an age to reach it because of the constant ups and downs and the constant weaving in and out of a million coves and inlets.  This is of course its charm and beauty as well, an ever changing landscape.

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A switchback path around a million coves and inlets

I had set myself a task to not take a break until I reached Fishguard so it was something of a relief to arrive at the old fort that marks the start of Fishguard’s three towns – Lower Town, the newer Fishguard town, and Goodwick.  Fishguard Fort was built in 1781 to defend the community against privateers but it is now in ruins.  Nevertheless, it occupies a delightful position.

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Fishguard Fort with the Marine Walk around the headland beyond

The Lower Town, the oldest part, is particularly picturesque with its old harbour, once a thriving herring fishing, ship building and coastal trading centre, and the walk through the town and around the next headland along the Marine Walk was equally lovely with wonderful views across the bay.  The newer part of Fishguard which operates a ferry service to Ireland was perhaps less inspiring so I hurried through, just stopping for food on the way.

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Lower Town, Fishguard

At this point I only had a few miles to walk to reach my overnight stopping point but as is often the case, those miles seemed to take a long time to walk.  The climb out of Fishguard/Goodwick was steep but once on the high headland, the path levelled off slightly for a time, probably the first ‘flat’ part since the start two days ago.  Walking in the late afternoon sun was lovely and the scenery continued to be as beautiful as ever.

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Walking towards Strumble Head in the evening sun

Just short of Strumble Head, I turned inland to find my campsite – well the term campsite was stretching the truth somewhat.  It was actually a field on a farm with no facilities.  I was offered the use of the shower (cold!) and toilet in one of the farm cottages but they were hardly five star!  I was just glad to have somewhere to pitch my tent for the night, even if it was in the middle of nowhere – in fact, because it was in the middle of nowhere!

I went to sleep looking forward to another day on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path tomorrow……but that’s for the next blog entry.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

The Pembrokeshire Coast Path – Intro

8 May

I’ve just returned from an amazing 13 day backpacking trip along the length of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path living out of my little tent. Amazing rugged coastline, beautiful sunshine, crazy gale force winds, driving Welsh rain, and a relentless up and down switchback of a path, all whilst carrying a 40lb pack. Nearly 200 miles of walking and I have apparently climbed the equivalent of Everest. Now I have sore feet……..but I’m happy :)!

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My home for two weeks :)

One list of ‘best’ walks puts The Pembrokeshire Coast Path at number 3 in the whole world and I can see why.  It is a wonderful, rugged coastline, and backpacking it gives a fantastic freedom, a freedom to walk with no real set agenda apart from a fairly flexible general plan of where to walk each day.  OK, its no easy walk, especially carrying everything on your back, but it is certainly a rewarding one, and part of that is simply the challenge to set out from St Dogmaels in the north and finish up nearly two weeks later in Amroth in the south without a break.  There were some days when there was simply a need to grit my teeth and keep walking, those days when the famous Welsh weather closed in and it was hard to just keep my balance in the gusty and slippery conditions.  On those days, I had a mantra that I repeated to myself over and over again as I walked – ‘One foot in front of the other gets you there’, and ultimately it did.

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One foot in front of the other gets you there! The finish line.

The walk has been in the planning for some time as I researched the route, possible stopping points along the way, travel arrangements to/from the start and finish etc and all this preparation, although deliberately flexible, proved invaluable.  This coastline is unspoilt which is part of the attraction but it was also part of the challenge as on some days there was nowhere on route to buy food.  This meant that when on the trail I had to constantly think ahead to make sure that I did not run out of supplies.  There were also other challenges to overcome such as keeping the mobile phone charged, chilly evenings and damp, cold nights – there was a need to keep warm before bed time – how to get anything dry after rain, and so on.  But all the challenges pale into insignificance compared to the fantastic beauty and shear exhilaration of being on the coast path ‘away from it all’ for nearly two weeks.

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A wonderful evening on the Pembrokeshire Coast Path.

The beautifully rugged scenery, the experiences along the way, the wonderful people that I came into contact with, and that final walk into Amroth make this a memorable walk indeed.  It is one that at my age and with knees and ankles that have seen better days, I am grateful to have been able to complete.

At the end of each day I wrote up a blog of that day’s walk and over the course of the next few weeks I will post those on this site.

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

The New Logo :)

21 Apr

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I decided I needed a logo so I drew a freehand sketch of a signpost and my son Paul found a website where they draw up graphics for $5 :)  The picture above is the result and I’ve even had some Tee Shirts printed :)!

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I have just realised how long it is since I did my last blog entry!  Where does time go?  I am still walking lots and there will be lots more blog entries to come although not for a couple of weeks – all will become clear :)!

Thanks for stopping by.

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.

 

Who Cares?

7 Mar

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Faceless names upon the stone,
No one knows, they are gone,
Ashes to ashes, no-one there,
Does anyone care?

Loved ones once, when alive,
But all too soon, their time to die,
Leaving this earth, with mourners there,
People around to care!

Generations passed, all forgot,
No-one now tends their final plot,
Overgrown and in disrepair,
Does anyone care?

Who cares?

Who Cares!!!!

This was a fascinating place, an old and uncared for Dorset cemetery.  Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, the old church to which the graveyard belonged was demolished in 1742 to make way for a new building a mile or so down the road.  Now the cemetery stands alone, neglected and uncared for, but the graves are still there – its just that no-one knows the people any more.  It struck me as sad and poignant and I composed the above poem to express something of that feeling.

When those people were buried, others would have stood around the grave mourning their loss.  Generations later…….who cares?  How many people will remember you or me, and for how long?  Who will care?

Thanks for reading.

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.

Rain, Rain, Rain…….and more Rain!!

13 Feb

It’s amazing how much rain seems to fall out of the UK skies at the moment!  Most of you will know from the news that there is massive flooding throughout the south coast, including the whole of Dorset.  The picture below is typical of Dorset footpaths at the moment – impassable!

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Impassable

A combination of this and also a hospital visit for a minor op has somewhat curtailed my activities over the last month or so……but not entirely :)!  There is always somewhere to walk and I have a few places that usually manage to stay dry enough and one of these is the Dorset sea front where the prom kind of stays dry.  It is often covered in thick sand from the storms and/or sea spray from the howling winds and high tides, but at least there is no MUD :)!!

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High tide breeches the sea wall!

In fact it is quite civilised and makes a change from the countryside as there are no hills to climb, food and drinks on tap all along the route, and dry seats to sit on in the various cafes etc that stay open in winter :)!  And you can walk for miles!  It’s not necessarily a walk that makes for an interesting blog entry but I thought I would put up a series of pictures taken on my various wanders over recent weeks………a sort of pictorial blog!

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I hope you enjoyed this brief visit to the sea front with me………and I am really hoping that normal service will be resumed in the very near future.  Now where did I leave my umbrella!

Thanks for reading.

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.

Of a canine encounter, a bloody battle, a blazing fire, a bright sunset……and of course, a HAPPY NEW YEAR!

31 Dec

It was one of those beautiful crisp winter days, the frost was still heavy in the shade although the bright, clear sunshine had thawed the cold earth elsewhere.  With lovely grassy paths soft under foot, the walking was pleasant and the day was peaceful.  But not for long!

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Grassy paths and autumn colours

I saw him in the distance but gave him no thought – just a dog, a bull terrier, being walked by his owner.  They got closer and the dog ran towards me, just having fun and wanting to play I thought.  Then he started to run around me, tripping me up as I walked.  Still I thought nothing until he started to nip my shoelaces, then my rucksack, then my trouser legs, then finally ME!  Fortunately, he didn’t break the skin but I ‘suggested’ to the owner that if she couldn’t control her dog, she shouldn’t own one!  Or at the very least she should keep it on a lead!  It wasn’t such a peaceful start to the day after all.

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The morning light

However, with paths like the one above to walk down in the beautiful morning light, the incident was soon forgotten.  The path in fact skirts round one of the many deer parks that were once used to keep up the supply of deer as this was for hundreds of years the hunting ground of English Kings.  These days, it is just the local deer stalker who is employed to keep the numbers down.  Turning off this track, my route took me down a gentle slope into a valley, passing more parkland and farmsteads on the way.

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Down into the valley

In some ways, this is still hunting territory although now it is not deer but game birds.  They flew off noisily every few minutes as I disturbed them – it always amuses me that they seem to leave it till the last minute as if they hadn’t noticed me.  Although it was winter, the birds were still making melody all around and there were even odd butterflies to add a bit of colour.  The whole landscape was peaceful and a delight to walk through, but it hadn’t always been that way!

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A peaceful Dorset farm lane

I came to the gate below with its rather unusual sign on it and decided to take a break for a cup of hot Bovril.  Leaning on the gate I reflected on the history of this place.  It is called the Bloody Shard Gate although the name refers to the area rather than that specific gate, it being the connecting point of some five paths.  Its name emanates from a bloody skirmish that took place in the 18th century between gamekeepers and poachers.  The gamekeepers won the day but there is an interesting story concerning one of the poachers who had a hand severed in the battle.  The poacher recovered but his hand didn’t and was buried in a local churchyard.  It is said that it still roams the area at night searching for its owner!

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Bloody Shard Gate

The area is in fact steeped in a history of conflicts such as the English Civil War, the local landowners were at odds with each other, farmers were at odds with royalty as the protected deer caused damage to crops, and there was even a battle between two packs of local dogs resulting in the death of forty five animals.  There was no evidence of that though when I walked through the peaceful woodlands which were almost like a silent graveyard of the age old coppicing industry.

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A graveyard of the coppicing industry

Walking along these grassy paths surrounded by woodlands, you can just imagine King John riding through with his entourage as they hunted for deer.  The farmers finally won their particular battle with royalty after 800 years of protection for the deer, although that was probably down to hunting going out of fashion.  It is said that when the protection was lifted, villagers shot 12,000 animals in two days!

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From hunting ground to farm land

At the half way point on this walk is a lovely unspoilt Dorset village and as I walked into it, the low winter sunshine threw long shadows across the ground making beautiful patterns of shadows and light.

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Shadows and light

This always seems an unusual village to me as the cottages that line the main street are all end on to it rather than facing onto it as they normally do.

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The village street

It also includes a rather nice pub with a blazing log fire so on this walk, my lunch time seat was dry :)!  I don’t usually visit pubs when I am walking, preferring to stick to the countryside and a well placed rock or log for a seat – but sometimes you just have to make an exception.  The fire was very inviting :)!

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Beside the pub fire

Leaving the pub, I headed out of the village and passed the interesting garden below.  I had assumed that it was an old village railway station and stopped to ask a lady if that was the case but apparently it wasn’t – it was just a villager who was keen on railway paraphernalia.

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Not the railway station

It was good to be out in the country again and I crossed fields and walked farm tracks for a few miles before dropping into another village, well more of a hamlet really.  This one, like most, had a delightful church as well as a farm, a few cottages and of course a manor house.  The manor was one of the two that had been rivals in days gone by.

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The hamlet

The trail from the village passes through more parkland, but this is no ordinary parkland.  This once surrounded a palatial mansion, the largest in the county, which was built in the early 18th century.  Its size was in fact its downfall as no one wanted it and at one point the owner, who lived in Italy, offered to actually pay £200 a year to anyone who would live it it.  There were no takers however and it is said that he gave instructions to his servant to demolish the wings of the house.  Apparently the servant seeing a chance to make some money for himself demolished the main house as well and sold the stone which was used on various other buildings in the area.  When he heard the owner was returning to England, the servant apparently committed suicide!  The current house is still a substantial country mansion despite its being only a fraction of the original, mainly just the stable block.  Its most noted inhabitant was the Wedgewood family of pottery fame.

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The parkland

By the time I reached the next village, the light was beginning to fade but I took time out to visit the church.  I enjoy looking round these old village churches, they have such a long heritage and are still a testimony to Christianity and to those who have served and worshipped over the centuries.  The architecture has a special beauty.

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Inside the village church

Coming out of the church, the day was almost spent and I strode out up the track as I had several miles still to walk.  The sun dropped below the horizon and the sky lit up with a bright red glow as I walked.  It seemed a fitting end to a glorious day, and perhaps a fitting end to this last post of 2013!

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The day’s end

I hope you have enjoyed walking with me this year.  If you have any comments on my blog, or suggestions as to how it could be improved in the coming year, I would love to hear from you.

May I wish you all a very happy New Year.  Every blessing, and much walking, in the year to come.

Thanks for reading.

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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