But Who is Old Harry?

12 Aug

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

In my last post, we paid a visit to St Lucas’ Leap, an interestingly named gap off Handfast Point in Purbeck. If you missed it there is a link here. Since we are on the subject of the Old Harry Rocks area, I thought we would continue our visit but this time by another possibly hazardous route so that we can get a slightly different viewpoint.

Chinooks over Old Harry Rocks

Chinooks Fly Over Handfast Point and Old Harry Rocks

In my last post we approached Old Harry via the cliff top path but today, we are approaching via the shoreline from Studland Beach. The first thing to say is that in order to take this route, you need to have a knowledge of the tides and to be very aware of the tide times as the headland is normally being lapped by waves. To get out to the base of Old Harry Rocks the tide needs to be out, and not only that but it needs to be a very low spring tide, nothing else will do because with some low tides, you would still need to paddle or swim to reach the point.

Naturally, once you reach the point, you still need to maintain an awareness of the tide because it is all too easy to get engrossed in taking pictures only to find that the tide has crept in behind you and you are stranded. Care is needed on the walk out too, because the shoreline is littered with very slippery seaweed, and it is nearly a mile from the beach to the base of Old Harry.

But despite the hazards, it is a walk that is so well worth doing as you will see the famous Old Harry up close, a view not experienced by many.

Just to give the global view first, in the picture at the top of this post, you see from left to right (ignoring the Chinooks 🙂 , of which more later), Old Harry and his wife, the two large chunks of No Man’s Land, the gap known as St Lucas’ Leap that featured in my previous post, Handfast Point and to the right, Ballard Down.

Old Harry and Wife

Old Harry and the Remains of His Wife

The reason for the numerous stacks is simply the action of the sea; this is an ever changing place. No Man’s Land has already divided into two, and as you can see, there are holes appearing in both parts. These holes will grow as erosion takes its toll and eventually there will be more and smaller stacks. Old Harry, on the left in the picture above, still stands but his wife, on his right, crumbled into the sea in 1896 and she is now a shadow of her former self. Eventually these two will both disappear, to be replaced by a new Harry and wife as No Mans Land erodes further.

Through the Arch

The Haystack and The Pinnacle

These are not the only stacks along this part of the coast. There are two more just a short ‘walk’ away if you dare risk trying to reach them 🙂 ! The first of these is known as the Turf Rickrock or Haystack, the other more pointed stack is known as The Pinnacle. It is fairly obvious where their names come from. The same can’t be said of Old Harry though!

Old Harry at Sunset

Old Harry and No Man’s Land

There are various tales of how Harry got his name, and several legends around how he came into being. Some say that he is named after the devil himself who fell asleep on the headland, others say that he is named after a notorious Dorset pirate called Harry Paye, whose vessel is said to have lay in wait for merchant ships, hiding behind the stacks. Yet another tale is that he is in fact a ninth century viking called Earl Harold who drowned in the area and subsequently turned into a pillar of rock.

However it got its name, Old Harry Rocks is an absolute icon of this area and a lovely spot to visit. It is certainly popular with locals and visitors alike.

Below the Cliffs

A Glimpse of The Haystack Through One of the Headlands

The massive white cliffs are full of caves that have become ‘tunnels’, almost as if some giant creature has burrowed through and come out the other side. In between the various headlands, small coves have been formed with normally unreachable beaches. This feature is nowhere more obvious than along the cliffs as we make our way back towards Studland Beach. This is like a corrugated coastline created by the sea.

And make our way back we must as the sun is setting, the light is fading and the tide is coming in again. As the saying goes, ‘Time and tide wait for no man’, and that is never more evident than here and now.

The Way Back

The Way Back – a Corrugated Coast

But what of those Chinooks? Well this is a regular training area for the military so these helicopters, looking like weird giant insects, often fly out on exercises, sometimes filled with troops, sometimes landing on Ballard Down, sometimes picking up boats off the sea. They might disturb the peace of this area at times but they are awesome to watch.

Any visit to the foot of Old Harry Rocks is by necessity short so time spent there needs to be measured in terms of quality not quantity. It will likely be time that you will spend on your own as not many make the trip on foot. This for me makes it a special place.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.


Mind the Gap

8 Aug

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Towns have names, villages have names, headlands have names, hills have names, in fact most things have names……but how often is a gap given a name? It is just an empty space after all, so why would it need a name? But on the Dorset coast, there is a gap and it has a name. The gap I am referring to is the empty space between the mainland coast and the next bit of land which has become an island, and it has a somewhat unusual name too. This is St Lucas’ Leap.

St Lucas’ Leap

Sunrise at Old Harry Rocks

Handfast Point and St Lucas’ Leap at Sunrise

In fact there are numerous names surrounding this area. Overall it is known as The Foreland or Handfast Point but it is more commonly referred to as Old Harry Rocks. In fact, Old Harry refers to one particular rock, a stack that has separated from the mainland. It stands beside the remains of Old Harry’s Wife who crumbled decades ago. And they both stand seawards of a much larger ‘island’ of rock which has in fact split into two separate parts, which is known as No Man’s Land.

I think it is fairly clear where No Man’s Land got its name, but that is not the subject of this post. This blog post concerns the gap between it and the mainland because that gap has been given the name St Lucas’ Leap. So who was St Lucas? Well the first thought might be that he was some great saint who did wonderful things centuries ago, maybe set up a monastery in the area, Lucas being a form of Luke. But as far as we know that is not the case. St Lucas was in fact………a dog! Hmm, dogs seem to be a bit of a theme in my blog at the moment.

Old Harry - up close and personal!

No Man’s Land

So why name a gap after a dog? Well it is a sad story but it seems that St Lucas was a pedigree greyhound and when he was being walked on the coast path, he took off after a rabbit and not being aware of the dangers of clifftops, he plunged off the end of Handfast Point and fell to his death on the rocks beneath. Since that day, the gap between the very tip of Handfast Point and that huge stack of rock known as No Man’s Land has been known as St Lucas’ Leap.

I’m not sure if the name was intended as some kind of tribute to a loyal friend or whether it was some kind of joke since it was hardly a leap, more a fall, and a sad one at that! Actually, thinking about it, who names these places anyway? Was this named by some civil dignitary who stood up in a council meeting and spouted, ‘I decree that hereafter and from hence forward, in recognition of fine service given during his life, this place shall be known as……’? Or was it some local joker who started it off one day and it just caught on 🙂 ? I’m guessing the latter and that it just became local custom.

old Harry - up close and personal!

St Lucas’ Leap with No Man’s Land beyond

Now one of the interesting things about St Lucas’ Leap, besides its name, is actually reaching it. If you time it right and know your tides well, you can reach it along the shoreline, but that is a post for another day. You can, or maybe that should be could, reach it from the clifftop but that required a serious head for heights as it meant walking a tightrope of a very narrow ridge of chalk with sheer drops on either side. Even when I walked it some years ago, you wouldn’t have attempted it on a windy day. Today, you would have to be very foolhardy to attempt this short walk at all as a cliff fall a year or two back has eroded the ‘path’ away almost completely.

A Sharper Knife

The Ridge Leading to St Lucas’ Leap

You might say, ‘Why walk there at all as it doesn’t go anywhere’, but I guess my response would be, ‘Because it is there’, and also perhaps because not many people have been there. It is a kind of inviting path and you just get the feeling that you want to see what is down there. I still get that feeling even though I have already been there several times but age and wisdom prevents me from making that walk again. Besides which, there really isn’t much to see that can’t be seen from the main clifftop, apart perhaps from getting a different view of the coast as you climb back up that narrow, exposed path.

Old Harry view

Looking Back from St Lucas’ Leap 

So, tribute to a dog, or sick joke? Who knows! I’m glad I’ve been there several times and captured these shots but if I feel the need to repeat the experience, I’ll buy a drone and have a virtual walk along the ridge! I think St Lucas can keep his leap for himself!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

Embracing the Creative

5 Aug

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Those of you who have been following my blog for a while or who have read my about page will know that I set it up in order to bring together my passion for Dorset, walking, cycling, nature/the outdoors, and photography in a way that would hopefully interest and entertain the reader. So it usually comprises articles about these subjects. But that poses a problem!

You see, I have always resisted being put in a particular box or being typecast as one particular style of photographer e.g. a landscaper or whatever. Yes. I take landscapes because I am out in the countryside a lot but I am not solely a purist landscape photographer. I actually enjoy all forms of photography, landscape, street photography, portraits, macro, conceptual photography, or frankly the out and out experimental and creative.

The danger with this is that you may be seen as ‘jack of all trades, master of none’, or that followers may not be interested in half of the posts. People who like my Dorset posts for instance may not be interested in my more photography based posts. Does this matter? I’m sure that some would say that it does and that to increase your following and keep your readers you need to specialise and have a constant theme rather than generalise as then people will know what to expect. Then again, I guess that depends of the view of individual readers as some might actually prefer variety rather than continuity or sameness. Its a bit of a conundrum that I haven’t yet bottomed out – how tight or how loose should a brief be in order to keep the blog interesting? Maybe I should have two or three different blogs 🙂 !

Anyway, today I thought I would share a picture that definitely fits in the creative category and it is all about Embracing the Creative, albeit it was taken in Dorset and in the outdoors, and features a tree so does fulfil some of my criteria……sort of 🙂 ! I called it ‘Forestry Man’!

Forestry Man

Old Age

I actually went walking along the River Stour and I carried my tripod as I thought some long exposure shots of the river might work well. Having taken some typical landscape shots though, I decided to have a play and get creative and this shot is one of the results. You see, we are all part of the created world, whether human, animal, tree, plant, bird or whatever and at the end of our time here, our bodies return to dust. So, in reality, is there much difference between us and say a tree when considered over millennia? Well of course, we have a soul so the end is not the end for us, but the body and the tree aren’t dissimilar really – we are both part of a greater whole and will eventually age and erode. I’ve tried to show that in this picture.

On a technical note, I guess I could have sandwiched two separate images together to get this effect, but I didn’t, this was all done in camera by using a long exposure.

If you are one of my ‘Dorset’ or ‘landscape’ followers then just gloss over this blog entry – normal service will be resumed shortly. But hey, for a moment, why not Embrace the Creative?

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

A Picture with a Story 4……

3 Aug

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

The unusual case of the trapped dog!

Today, we are back on the theme of dogs……and what a strange tale this is! We are turning the clock back over 30 years, back to the days when I was an active freelancer who carried his camera gear absolutely everywhere. And not just one camera either. In those days, I would carry my 35mm gear over my left shoulder and my medium format gear over my right shoulder, even on family outings and holidays. The reason was that a lot of publications insisted on 120 transparency film only, considering that 35mm cameras just didn’t give good enough results. My medium format camera of choice varied over the years but at one time I carried a Mamiya RB67 studio camera with me. In the other camera bag I would have two 35mm bodies, one with transparency film and the other with black and white negative film. Plus , of course, both bags would have lenses and other equipment, and even a tripod.

Having reached a certain age, I just have no idea how I managed with all that gear whilst on holiday or whatever with my family. But I guess when you are young and keen to get on as a freelancer, you just do whatever it takes. Anyway, on this day, carrying my equipment proved useful as I came across a rather unusual incident involving a dog!

Scan 21

We were in Salisbury at the time, and in the market area there are underground toilets. A dog owner went down the stairs, leaving her dog at the top, and the dog, seeing her owner through the parapet wall, pushed her head through the gap and of course couldn’t get it back out again. When the owner came back up, she tried, the people around all tried, and in the end the fire brigade were called. They tried but failed initially until someone had the bright idea of buying a large tub of grease which they smeared all over the dog’s head. Finally, with a ‘S-l-urrpp’ the dog’s head popped out. I should add that Trixie was perfectly fine and suffered no ill effects 🙂 !

Of course, this was the pre-Internet days so as soon as I got home, I rushed into my darkroom, which was in my garage, and processed the film. Having allowed the negatives to dry, I later went back out to print the best negatives onto 10″ x 8″ glossy paper as this was the industry standard. Having allowed those to dry, I then had to compose and type a letter to go with them, add a self-addressed return envelope, package it all up and send it off to whatever publication I thought would be interested in using the story. In this case, I printed several lots as I knew that more than one magazine would like to run the story, although of course I had to make sure that I did not send the pictures to competing magazines as this was not the done thing.

This particular piece appeared in ‘Weekend Magazine’ but the pictures and story featured in several others as well. Of course in these days of digital photographs and Internet, pictures like these can easily go viral but in those days the only viral things were the illnesses we picked up 🙂 ! I’d like to add that I got paid handsomely for my efforts but I think all I could say is that I got paid. The ‘handsomely’ bit didn’t come into it……but it was always a thrill to see your work in print anyway! I used to regularly scour the magazines in the shops to see if any of my pictures had been used.

Back then, I had a ‘normal’ job as well so my freelancing took place in the evenings and at weekends. I spent so many nights out in my garage darkroom which had no heat, even in freezing winter weather, and often till the early hours of the morning too. Oh, and it had no running water either so the prints had to be washed under the outside tap…….brrrrr!!

I guess one thing this story does show is that its always worth carrying a camera with you as you never know what you might come across 🙂 ! But at least these days it can be a lightweight digital camera!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

A Picture with a Story 3…….

2 Aug

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!

Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let your hair down...

You probably know the story of Rapunzel, but in case you don’t…….

Young couple – pregnant wife – witch living next door with a veg garden full of rapunzels (basically lettuce) – wife has craving – husband goes scrumping – wife wants more – husband goes back for more – husband gets caught by witch – witch says ‘take all you want but give me the baby’ – husband agrees – baby handed over – witch locks girl in room at top of tower with no stairs – girls hair grows very long – witch visits every day and climbs up to room at top of tower using girl’s hair as rope – handsome prince comes – when witch leaves, climbs up to see girl also using hair – comes back often – fall in love – get caught by witch – thrown off tower and blinded – girl banished to wilderness – prince blindly wanders wilderness – couple meet again – fall into each others’ arms – prince gets sight back – both go off to his kingdom (well actually four of them as she has had twins by now) – live happily ever after!

I find this historical story factually challenging, the main issue being who on earth ever got a craving for lettuce 😉 ! Where is the law that says a baby is good barter for a lettuce? Also, how did the witch get to the top of the tower carrying the baby in the first place as there are no stairs? How did she climb up when the girl’s hair was growing – I’m sure a two year old’s hair wouldn’t have reached the ground? How come princes are always handsome? How come no frog was involved? Why do they always live happily ever after?…………:) I could go on!

So I was walking White Nothe after another wonderful day on the Dorset Coast Path and the sun was setting and turning the sky a delightful shade of orange. As always, I sought a suitable place to capture the sunset but then I saw this old, ruined tower which I thought would make a great silhouette, especially if positioned so that I could get a nice sunburst as well. I’m not sure if this is the actual tower that Rapunzel was held captive in, but if not, then it is one very similar.

Strangely, although I have walked this part of the coast many times since, I have never seen the tower again, just an old fence post that stands in the same place 🙂 ! Maybe it was demolished.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

A Picture with a Story 2……

31 Jul

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

The mysterious case of the flying dog!

Sunset at Man o' War Bay

Today, I am continuing my theme of pictures with stories attached. Yesterday, I put up a post about a ‘fake?’ picture, although that depends entirely on your viewpoint. Here is a link to that post.  Today’s post though is not about the picture at all as the picture above is 100% real and undoctored, as, I should add, are most of my pictures. This is about the events surrounding the picture!

This was another occasion where I had been walking all day, timing my walk so that I would arrive at a suitable spot to capture the sunset, and on this occasion I decided that Man o’ War Bay on the Dorset coast would be perfect. I thoroughly enjoyed my day even though I was carrying all my camera equipment, tripod and so on, and I arrived at the bay in good time to set up for my shot as the colour was building in the sky. I decided on a longish exposure to catch the movement of the water and to create a nice wet, reflective foreground and I set my tripod up and waited.

When all the conditions were right, I took the picture above, and I was pleased with the result and got ready to take more shots when I heard a noise to my right. I was stood next to a 150 foot high cliff and the noise I heard was the sound of stones and small rocks falling down the cliffs onto the beach. This is not unusual where there are unstable cliffs as you often hear the trickling of stones that have been loosened by the weather. As I looked to my right however, I got a shock because coming down with the shower of stones was a dog! He had plunged from the top of the cliffs and was seemingly ‘running’ down the cliff face.

It was over in a split second but seemed like it was in slow motion – it was one of those surreal moments. The dog hit the beach with a thud and a very loud yelp, and just laid there! I ran straight across to the poor animal to check him over and I comforted him for a long time whilst he recovered. Fortunately, and amazingly, he seemed to have suffered no ill effects from his fall apart from being seriously winded, and after about 15 minutes he stood up somewhat unsteadily and eventually ran happily off down the beach. Whilst he was recovering, I could hear his owners calling him from 150 feet above my head and I shouted out to them that he was ok. I’m not sure if they were expecting him to run back up the cliff but that’s the way it seemed! In fact, the only way for them to reach him was to run along the clifftop to reach the steps down to the beach which I assume they did.

I often wonder what saved that dog from death. It could be that dogs also have nine lives 😉 ! It could be the fact that the cliffs at the point he fell are not quite vertical. It could be that he was a long legged, athletic looking dog and was somehow able to at least partly keep his feet. It could be that he was fortunate enough to fall onto shingle rather than onto one of the many large rocks that also litter the beach. Who knows, but the happy fact is he did survive.

The problem for me of course was that since sunsets are fleeting, by the time I got back to my camera having done my vet impersonation, the sky had lost all its colour. So on that lovely evening, after humping my camera gear all day in order to get some competition winning shots, I in fact got just one picture. But, hey, there will be other sunsets and I’m just glad that this lovely dog was ok.

I guess the moral of this tale is that if you are a dog owner and you are walking the clifftops…….well I think you know what I am going to say………keep it on a lead! Otherwise you might just spoil some other photographer’s pictures 😉 !

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.

A Picture With a Story…..

29 Jul

– – – Exploring The Countryside and Lanes of Dorset – – –

I thought I would just do a short series on what I have called. ‘A Picture with a Story’. These are all pictures that have a story behind them which is not necessarily the obvious story 🙂 ! Some of these will have been taken in unusual circumstances and others might be of unusual subjects, and the first of these I have entitled, ‘What Might Have Been’!

What might have been


What Might Have Been

It was a cold February day when I set out on a 16 mile walk. I anticipated a good sunset so I did what I often do and planned my walk so that I would arrive at a good spot in time to capture the setting sun. On this day, I decided that Corfe Castle would be just such a spot so that I could capture the castle in semi silhouette against the sunset sky or that lovely post sunset glow that can be so special with its soft light.

Now the problem with such a long walk, especially in winter is that it is difficult to gauge the time right so that you have an enjoyable walk but still get to take some photographs at the end. Arguably perhaps you should do one or the other, enjoy a walk or just take pictures, because then you can get in position with lots of time to spare. But I was determined to do both! And in fact it all worked out perfectly and I reached the top of East Hill perfectly…..except the weather didn’t play ball!

I could see the sun setting beautifully as I was walking along Nine Barrow Down, and even took pictures of it although with nothing of interest in the foreground, but then ‘Murphy’s Law’ kicked in and the sun did what it often seems to do – by the time I had reached the castle, it had dropped into a bank of cloud on the horizon to be seen no more. And no post sunset glow either, just a dull grey sky! But I took my pictures of the castle anyway because I had an idea how I could achieve what I wanted.

Back home, using Adobe Photoshop, I amalgamated two pictures, using one picture of the castle and dropping in the sky from one of my earlier pictures (the two pictures are above). The result is pretty much what I had in mind. But it does pose a slight moral dilemma, especially if you are a purist photographer. Is it right to manipulate an image? If so, how much manipulation is too much?

I actually don’t have a problem with it if you are producing an image which is obviously manipulated as with a lot of fine art. With a ‘normal’ landscape though I am less comfortable with heavy manipulation although I think this is more about people trying to pass the final picture off as genuine when in fact it is not.

In my case, both pictures were taken the same day and in fact had I walked quicker and reached the castle 15 minutes earlier, the main picture is exactly the picture I would have captured….hence my title, ‘What might have been’. In that sense it is genuine anyway…..or could have been. Plus of course all photographers process their images and make adjustments and enhancements on the computer, be it to increase contrast, brighten a picture up or whatever. This is something that has been done since photography began. Even if you go back to the old days of ‘steam driven’ film cameras, we were pretty adept at manipulating black and white prints in the darkroom using bits of card or our hands, or a second negative, so it is nothing new.

At the end of the day, image manipulation is all part of the overall creative process to produce a final picture that is pleasing or meaningful to look at, but I guess I am a purist at heart and with landscapes particularly I prefer to get it right in the camera in the first place. Besides which, it means less time spent at the computer and more time out on the trail, and that’s got to be good 🙂 !

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time,
Your friend The Dorset Rambler

If you would like to contact me, my email address is terry.yarrow@gmail.com – comments and feedback are always welcomed.