Tag Archives: White Nothe

On White Nothe (or is it Nose) again :)

6 Dec

I did say that it was a place that I love to walk…….well, I walked there again last week so I thought I would add a few more quirky and interesting facts about this remote and lovely place.

The first thing is that name and where it came from.  Well it comes from the shape and its resemblance to a facial appendage but I have not been able to establish whether it is the profile shape of the whole headland or, as one source suggests, just the rocky outcrop shown in the picture below.  Does it matter?  Well only to me as I’m inquisitive and like things to be settled!  Actually I think the whole headland looks like a nose – all it needs is a couple of caves for nostrils…..

Just as an aside, I wonder why the name changed from Nose to Nothe – do you think someone had a cold and couldn’t pronounce his S’s properly – I have this picture in mind of someone talking to a cartographer who was drawing up a map of the area and the mispronunciation stuck ;)!

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White Nose

In fact, the outcrop in the picture is not the only one on this headland.  There is a far less well known and perhaps more impressive outcrop below.  It is a massive pillar of chalk known as The Fountain Rock and is seen by few people because it is somewhat off the beaten track, and the beach it stands on is inaccessible.  Which leads me to one of the things on my wish list – one day I want to stand on the shore at the foot of this rock :)!  Now I could get my kayak out again or I could walk the shoreline from Ringstead and take a chance on the tides :)!!  One day……

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The Fountain Rock

Moving further along the headland in an easterly direction leads us to some more interesting features of this fantastic place.  The first is a series of three shell sculptures, each in its own cupboard – I say three but sadly there are now only two because one has been damaged.  These sculptures were carved by Peter Randall in 1985 at the request of the Weld Estates as part of Common Ground’s New Milestones project.  This aimed to stimulate small scale art works to express a sense of history and the natural world and they feature in a number of places across Dorset.  It seems incongruous somehow to come across these in the middle of nowhere but what a great idea, and a very pleasant, not to mention intriguing, surprise for anyone walking these parts for the first time.

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The Wayside Carvings

Just a short distance away is something that puzzled me all my life until finally I managed to get to the bottom of what was a real conundrum.  There are two obelisks perhaps a quarter of a mile apart and nowhere was there any mention of their purpose or who erected them.  They are both identical and one is inland of the other – but why were they put there?  Clearly it wasn’t just a random thought someone had on a quiet day when they were bored, and they are far two functional in appearance to be any form of memorial, so what are they?  Answers on a postcard to…….

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The inland obelisk

Actually as mentioned before, the riddle is solved – well at least in part!  After spending a day making numerous telephone calls to various ‘authorities’, each of whom suggested another, I reached the Hydrographic Office in Taunton and they found a reference to these in a publication entitled The Channel Pilot Part 1 (I believe it is a sort of seaman’s guide to the British coast).  This dates from 1908 and the reference actually says, ‘Two white beacons, 24 feet high for the use of His Majesty’s ships when prize firing, have been erected on high land east of White Nose (now known as White Nothe)’.

So the next puzzle was, what is or was ‘prize firing’?  Well it was the test of a ship’s proficiency for battle and on Admiralty orders this was to be carried out annually.  Basically it was a yearly competition to see if the naval gunners were any good – if they were then they went into battle and if they weren’t then it was back for more training.  What I am not totally sure on is exactly how the obelisks were used apart from the fact that they obviously had to be lined up when viewed from the ship.  As the observant will have noticed, they are no longer painted white.

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The coastal obelisk

There is one final point of interest at the top of the headland and that is a memorial to the author Llewelyn Powis.  He was one of a family of eleven, many of whom were writers, and for a number of years he lived in White Nothe Cottages that I showed in my last blog.  The cottages went through a bohemian period when many noted people, including Augustus John, visited.

In my last blog entry I mentioned the Smuggler’s Path and the fact that the last 30 feet or so down to the shore involved climbing down a rather rickety looking ladder – well I have now found my pictures of this contraption which I have climbed up and down many times!  I think this is pretty quirky so I thought I should post them :)!

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The stairway to heaven – well White Nothe actually

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The view from the top

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Ringstead Bay through the ladder

Oh yes, and did I mention the old fence posts ;)!  I love them – they are almost as quirky as The Dorset Rambler!  Its amazing what you see when you walk with your eyes really open.

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Another wonderful old fence post

One pleasure I did have on my last visit is that I again bumped into my friend Sally who lives in one of the cottages and we had a long and enjoyable chat.  She did correct one thing from my last post – she does have internet!  So just a tiny bit of the 21st century has finally come to these wonderful old cottages ;)!  Apart from that, the historic features and charm have been amazingly preserved – and long may it stay that way.

Well, for the time being at least, we must leave this delightful place with the strange name of White Nothe and move on to other areas – but more of that next time.  Before we go though, stand with me once more on the cliff top and look out to the setting sun across the mist that has settled on the sea.

Sunset over White Nothe

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.

On White Nothe.

27 Nov

I am sitting in my office this afternoon looking out of my window at the most amazing sunset……and I am frustrated!  You see, this week I have been unwell so have not been able to get out walking and one of Yarrow’s Laws states that, ‘When not walking, there shall be a blazing sunset, and when walking, there shall be grey skies only’ ;)!  Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

Since I am at home, I thought I would catch up with another blog, and this one was sparked by a television programme that I watched earlier.  But more of that later!

The subject of this blog is White Nothe which is a fabulous headland on the Jurassic Coast of Dorset.  Also known as White Nose because of its distinctive shape, it is an area that I love to walk as it seems to be filled with interest and intrigue, not to mention wild, windy weather at times.

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The distinctive shape of White Nothe, AKA White Nose, at sunset

The chalk headland with its flat top juts out to sea and has amazing views all along the coast to the east and the west.  To the east, the views take in Bat’s Head, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove.

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The view to the east

To the west, the views spread out across the beautiful Ringstead Bay and through to Weymouth.

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The Dorset Cost Path and the view to the west

And looking directly South, the view takes in The Isle of Portland, which in reality is not an island as it is connected to the mainland by a causeway.

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The view south to Portland

With the Dorset Coast Path running along this whole area, I am sure you can appreciate why I love walking it so much – well, who wouldn’t.  I mentioned that this area is intriguing, well it is to me, and one of the quirky things is the famous Smuggler’s Path which zig zags steeply down the end of the headland to the shore.  This path was made famous by J Meade Falkner in his book, ‘Moonfleet’ which is a tale of smuggling in Dorset.  In part of the book he wrote:

‘Forgive me, lad,’ he said, ‘if I have spoke too roughly. There is yet another way that we may try; and if thou hadst but two whole legs, I would have tried it, but now ’tis little short of madness. And yet, if thou fear’st not, I will still try it. Just at the end of this flat ledge, farthest from where the bridle-path leads down, but not a hundred yards from where we stand, there is a sheep-track leading up the cliff. It starts where the under-cliff dies back again into the chalk face, and climbs by slants and elbow-turns up to the top. The shepherds call it the Zigzag, and even sheep lose their footing on it; and of men I never heard but one had climbed it, and that was lander Jordan, when the Excise was on his heels, half a century back. But he that tries it stakes all on head and foot, and a wounded bird like thee may not dare that flight. Yet, if thou art content to hang thy life upon a hair, I will carry thee some way; and where there is no room to carry, thou must down on hands and knees and trail thy foot.’

(From Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner – as young John Trenchard and Elzevir Block flee from the Excise Men)

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The Smuggler’s Path

Actually, the path itself, whilst steep, is not that scary although when you reach the bottom there is a somewhat shaky and exposed ‘ladder’ that takes you the last 30 feet to the shore.  This is a path I always enjoy walking, especially down……well its tough going up it ;)!

One of the other quirky things is the ‘pill box’ which stands at the top of the zig zag.  It was in fact a communication post during the war, and I once scrambled up to the top to take some pictures.  These places always intrigue me because as I stand there, I find myself wondering about all the men that served there, and the legacy they left.  What also amuses me is that as I stand beside this communication post, I have no signal on my mobile phone!!

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The communication post

The most intriguing thing about the headland is the row of cottages behind in the picture above.  These puzzled me for years until I got talking to a very pleasant lady who lives in one of them and she told me all about them.  This is another very quirky part of this wonderful county!

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White Nothe Cottages

The cottages were built to house coastguards, with the nearest three story house being that of the captain and the other six cottages housing his men.  At one time, with wives and children, there were 44 people living in this short row of cottages.  They are well placed for the coastguards, simply because of the all round views.

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The coastguards’ view

These days, the cottages are in private ownership, although they are nonetheless quirky for that.  These are the facts:

1. They have no road access.  The only way to reach then is along a muddy farm track.
2. They have no mains electricity.  Power comes from a number of sources, a) an LPG powered generator, b) a car battery charged by solar panels, or c) for lighting, gas mantles, oil lamps or candles.
3. They have no mains gas.  Gas is by LPG bottle and since there are no deliveries, the residents have to go and collect them.
4. There is no running water.  Water provision is simply rain water captured off the roofs and stored in underground tanks.  This then needs to be pumped up to the header tank as needed.
5. Heating is by log burners which feed a small number of radiators.
6. There is no telephone or Internet.
7. There is no mains drainage, just a septic tank.

Quirky?  I think so, but fantastic too, and I would love to live in one :)!  In the middle of nowhere, with those views and being able to walk straight out of you front door onto the coast path…..bliss!

Just down from the top of the headland stands another interesting feature of this amazing coast.  It is a tiny hamlet of Holworth with its beautiful wooden chapel.  I had thought that this was unused but in fact it has recently been extended.  It stands in the perfect position right on the cliff edge.

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Holworth Church with its perfect view

I think it is fair to say that yet another quirky thing about this place is its weather!  Often windy, as you would expect, it also has frequent mists which blow across the headland and role down to the sea like water pouring off a hillside.  It is an awesome sight to stand and watch this phenomenon which frequently occurs when the lower coast is clear.

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The mist covers White Nothe whilst Ringstead Bay stays clear

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The mist roles across the headland

Ah yes, one more feature about White Nothe – it seems to have a lot of old, broken fence posts which I seem to photograph with monotonous regularity ;)!  The picture below, I called ‘Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let your hair down’ – I wonder if you can see why?

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Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let your hair down

So that is White Nothe, with its amazing views and intrigue, a place I love.  Oh yes, and the programme that sparked this blog?  The cottages were featured on a property programme from which I discovered that three of them are on the market………now, where’s my cheque book?

Actually, according to the programme, the three story cottage is on at £575K.  Ah well, I’ll just dream on!

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The sun fades over White Nothe

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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