On Kimmeridge Bay

Just to follow up my post last week, I thought I’d put up some pictures of Kimmeridge Bay since it is one of those places that I regularly revisit.  It is such an interesting place and there is always something special about finishing a good days walking on the rocks at Kimmeridge.  It is not surprising that this coast was declared a World Heritage Site!

The first thing of interest is Clavell Tower which has stood like a guard on its hilltop overlooking the bay for many many years – which may seem a strange thing to say but it has, amongst other things, been a lookout tower.  It was built around 1830 by the Rev John Clavell who had inherited the nearby Smedmore House, one of the Purbeck stately homes.  Standing at the top of Hen Cliff, the tower is 35 feet high and has four floors although originally the upper floors would have been accessible only by ladder.  The tower has something of a literary past, having been frequented by the Dorset author, Thomas Hardy.  It featured in his Wessex Poems and was also the inspiration behind P D James’ novel The Black Tower.  It was used as a lookout by the coastguards until 1930 when sadly it was gutted by fire.

For many years after that it was left derelict and because of coastal erosion it was in real danger of collapsing completely into the sea and in 2006 it was taken over by The Landmark Trust.  They dismantled it brick by brick, stone by stone and re-erected it some 30 meters inland at a cost of close on £1M.  The work was completed in 2008 and the tower is now used as holiday accommodation………but if you want to rent it, you will need to book it a long way in advance.  It is naturally a very popular place to stay!


Kimmeridge with Clavell Tower and Hen Cliff across the bay


Clavell Tower – the old and the new

Now Dorset has very few waterfalls to speak of but of those it does have, two are at Kimmeridge!  These two are frequently just trickles but if you time it right, you can get some quite good pictures.  I have put two pictures below – both of these were taken using a long exposure to create some movement in the water – much more effective than ‘freezing’ the action.  The first picture is of the smaller waterfall that drains down the valley through a small stream that eventually finds its way to the sea.  The second is the larger fall and it drops from the cliff top straight into the sea – although it is still not a huge drop!  But hey, here are two pictures to celebrate Dorset waterfalls!


The smaller waterfall


The higher of the two waterfalls drops straight into the sea

Kimmeridge played its part in our defences during the war and there is still a bunker on the beach, although this is ‘looking its age’!  The bay is also right on the edge of the MOD Artillery Firing Range so guns can frequently be heard along this part of the coast today.


A relic of war

Geologically, the rocks at Kimmeridge are Oil Shale which is naturally flammable.  The ledges of rock run right out to sea and provide great photographic opportunities when the tide is right.  There is also oil below the bay and also gas.  Over the years, 6 wells have been drilled and today, some 51 years after it first started, the nodding donkey still pumps some 65 barrels of oil out of this well every day – it is the oldest working pump in the UK!


Across the ledges at Kimmeridge

In days gone by, fishing played a big part in the life of Kimmeridge, and still does.  The fishermen’s huts sit on the shoreline below Clavell Tower with the rock slipways in front.  Much of the time these slipways are used for leisure craft as this bay is a popular playground.  The bay is a wildlife haven and divers are regularly seen offshore as well as fishing canoes.  It is also a great place for children who love the rock pools and fossil hunts.

Kimmeridge has a great heritage and a great atmosphere.  To wander along this shore after sundown is a special and memorable experience and I am fortunate enough to live near enough to enjoy the experience regularly!

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

The Dorset Rambler



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