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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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’!
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.
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.
One of the amazing things about The Training Bank is the beautiful red seaweed which clothes all of the rocks.
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!
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 :)!
And of course, the dunes with their Marram Grass also provide some photographic fodder :)!
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!
Thanks for joining me on this walk – I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.
Thanks for stopping by and reading the ramblings of The Dorset Rambler.
Until next time,
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.
Hi Terry – I think I’ve mentioned before that I lived in Swanage for a while so I’ve been on that ferry numerous times and it never ceases to amaze me. This account brought it all back along with some wonderful memories – thankyou 🙂
Thanks travellingbag 🙂
What fantastic pictures and with lovely dollops of nostalgia. The perfect walk in almost all weathers!
Thanks TDF, you are very kind 🙂