Tag Archives: coast

Welcome to Welcombe!

11 Jul

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

One of the other places I visited in Devon was Welcombe Mouth, and it was something of an adventure!

Welcombe Mouth

Welcombe Mouth

I set out in the early morning driving down narrow, single track country lanes, often with grass growing down the middle giving the feeling that you are in some lost civilisation, to reach the small village of Welcombe.

From here, I took an even narrower road signposted Welombe Mouth – I say ‘road’ but I use the term loosely! In fact the ‘road’ became a track that became rougher and more overgrown the farther I went down, so much so that I began to wonder if I had taken a wrong turn and that this was just a footpath. Then, just as I was thinking about reversing all the way back up it, the way opened out and the bay came into view with a rough area of flat ground that could be described as a car park 🙂 ! After the drive, the view that presented itself was a revelation, almost as if I had passed through some portal into another world!

Welcombe Mouth

A Revelation of Rock Strata and Rock Pools

Although not the easiest place to get to, Welcombe Mouth is a truly delightful spot. It is a secluded cove sheltering between high headlands where a stream makes its way into the sea having snaked its way down the valley. Here, the rock strata has been crumpled and turned up on end causing jagged rocks to line the beach running from the land to the shoreline. In between are rock pools, shingle and sand, and much to explore.

Rock Pool

Pools Aplenty

Jelly

Jelly

Where the stream meets the coast, it tumbles and dances joyously down the rocks in a beautiful waterfall that just shimmers and sparkles delightfully in the morning sunshine. It chatters cheerfully as if it is pleased to see you. A series of stepping stones just above the waterfall carry the South West Coast Path across the stream for grateful walkers.

Welcombe Mouth Waterfall

A Dancing Waterfall

Welcombe Mouth is a place where you could happily spend a day as there is so much to explore and its seclusion makes it special. One could just sit for hours and soak in the atmosphere of this lovely place, and feel completely detached from the real world. Apparently it is popular with experienced surfers but there were none here on this day. In fact there was no-one else on the beach.

Limpet Campsite

Limpit Camp Site

The only sounds are the sounds of the sea as the Atlantic rollers endlessly arrive at the beach like some perpetual motion machine, dispensing their energy as if spent from the efforts of reaching the cove. Despite their endless power, the sound is gentle and relaxing and it is amazing to think that long after I have gone home, the waves will still continue to wash the sand…….for centuries to come. This is one of the wonders of nature and one that I never tire of watching.

Welcombe Mouth

Welcombe Mouth from Above

Eventually of course I did have to go home, but not before climbing one of the headlands to reach a lofty perch from which to view the bay. Then, I made my way back up the rough track with the sound of the waves diminishing and fading behind me. The memories of this place will linger though!

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.

 

At Hartland Quay Again!

6 Jul

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

Continuing yesterday’s post, we are back at Hartland Quay again but this is really just a photographic post. I mentioned in yesterday’s blog entry that the rock strata and colours are amazing if we can just spend time simply looking at the detail, and here are a few pictures to highlight this.

Orange

Orange

Colours

Red Amongst the Grey

One of the amazing things is that although the rock is grey on the outside, when it splits, it reveals a whole rainbow of beautiful colours.

Rainbow Colours

Rainbow Colours

And its not only the rocks but the creatures that live on them too.

Patterns

Camp Site for Limpets

There is an infinitesimal range of compositions for the camera, almost too many to take in. Often it is the simple way things relate to each other that makes the picture rather than anything extreme.

Rocks

The Circle

The rock strata is just awesome. The earth has crumpled at this point, creating vertical rather than horizontal strata like someone has just crumpled up a newly ironed sheet.

Strata

Crumpled Strata

And when you really look, you can see pictures in the rocks. I call the picture below, ‘Rock Tree’ 🙂 !

Rock Tree

Rock Tree

I must say, I really enjoyed just spending time wandering in and out of the rocks that were littered along the beach. For me, this was all about looking for the detail rather than the grand panorama, and maybe we could all benefit from spending time like this. It is certainly an engaging and rewarding practice.

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.

At Hartland Quay

4 Jul

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

So, continuing our theme for the week and a brief hop across the county border into Devon, we are today paying a visit to Hartland Quay.

Hartland Quay

At Hartland Quay

Hartland Quay was once a busy port on the Devon coast. It was built towards the end of the 16th century to allow the importing of lime, slate, coal etc and the exporting of local produce such as barley and oats. It was the coming of the railway that spelled the end for this small harbour as maintenance of the harbour wall ceased and nature was left to take its toll. By the end of the 19th century, the harbour had virtually been demolished by stormy seas!

Empty Tables

Empty Tables

The accommodation along the quayside comprising of workers’ cottages, malthouse and stables with haylofts above were converted to a hotel and so the face of this place changed to become what it is today.

At Hartland Quay

A Rugged Coastline

The coast here is rugged and rocky, with crumpled and upturned rock strata and even on a wet day such as this, it has a beauty. The colours and textures are delightful and it is a place that rewards time spent just exploring the detail, but that is a post for another day.

On the Rocks

Upturned Rock Strata

More of Hartland Quay tomorrow.

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.

St Aldhelm’s Chapel…….or is it?

6 Jun

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

So, having looked at some Dorset places through the ‘lens of blur’ last week in order to get an alternative view, this week I thought we would go back to our series on ‘Quirky Dorset’ by visiting some slightly oddball or out of the ordinary places. This is Part 21 and we are starting off this set with a very old chapel…….or is it?? Well actually, no one seems to be certain! This is St Aldhelm’s Chapel that sits on the headland that bears the same name.

St Aldhelm’s Chapel, St Aldhelm’s Head

St Aldhelm's Chapel

St Aldhelm’s Chapel

St Aldhelm’s, also known as St Alban’s, Chapel sits atop a remote Dorset headland some 108 meters above sea level, a couple of miles from the nearest village. It is tiny, just 30 feet square, with thick walls, and a solid stone roof that is supported by a heavy internal rib-vaulted ceiling that radiates out from an overly stout central pillar. With just a single door and single window, this building is built like a fortress, set to withstand the elements that beat upon it in its exposed position. Externally, the chapel stands in the centre of a low circular earthwork which is thought to be pre-Conquest Christian. It is a chapel, and occasional services are still held there, but was it always?

Well that is a difficult question to answer even for the experts! There are a number of unusual features about this building, namely, it is square, it is not built to the traditional east/west orientation, and it has a huge central pillar which makes it less than ideal for gatherings of people. In addition, there is no evidence of a place for an altar or a piscina. All these suggest that it wasn’t originally intended to be a church. However, there is definite evidence to show that there was a chaplain here in the 13th century!

The age of the building is somewhat uncertain. Indications are that it dates from Norman times, but some say that the doorway is actually Saxon. The site itself is even older than that as it is in fact thought to have been built on the site of an earlier, possibly wooden, building.

St Aldhelm's Chapel interior

The Central Column and Rib Vaulting

That isn’t all that is strange about this chapel because, although it has a cross on top now, this only dates from 1873 and there is evidence that prior to that, there was a beacon at the apex of the roof. This could lead to the supposition that the building might have originally been some kind of coastal lookout, and this thought could possibly be supported by the fact that the construction is similar to parts of Corfe Castle which is several miles inland. Add to this the fact that the headland is on the ‘blind side’ of the castle and you have even more weight to its argument for being a lookout to aid and protect the castle. You could add to that again, that the parish is described in 1428 as having no inhabitants so arguably would not need a church, plus its description in 1625 as being a ‘sea mark’ – an aid to navigation used by seamen.

However, a very strong argument against the lookout theory, aside from the fact that there was a chaplain, is that there is only one tiny window, which is hardly the normal way to design a lookout! How can you look out if there is nothing from which to look out!

On the altar!

One Tiny Window

One suggestion put forward is that this building was erected as a Chantry, a small chapel where an incumbent priest would pray for the souls of deceased benefactors to aid them through purgatory, or perhaps for the safety of those at sea. This was a common practice until the Reformation; until then, many small Chantry Chapels were built. Of course, none of the uses described here are necessarily mutually exclusive and it is possible that this was built as a chapel that doubled as a lookout/beacon.

The historical time line indicates that this was a chapel with a chaplain, at least from the 13th century but that by the 17th/18th century it had fallen into disuse and was in a ruinous condition. It was restored and re-opened in 1874 and was used for a considerable time by the coastguards who had a lookout and a row of cottages on the headland. They held weekly services here. Again, however, it fell into disrepair, and again it was restored in the 1960’s.

We still haven’t exhausted the strange and unexplained features of this site! In 1957, a 13th century grave was found on the headland as well as the foundations of a small building which might have been a tiny dwelling. Little is known about the person interred except that she was aged between 30 and 40 years. It is thought that she might have been an Anchoress, basically a Christian recluse, who moved there to be near the chapel. A second grave was also discovered near the chapel itself.

Oh, and for some unknown reason, the chapel was once known as The Devil’s Chapel! It has also been known as a Wishing Chapel, a place where girls could go to in order to pray for a husband, posting personal items such as hair clips into a hole in the central pillar!

St Aldhelm's Chapel

St Aldhelm’s Chapel and Earthworks

There seems no end to the mystery that is St Aldhelm’s Chapel. Despite the theories, no one really knows for definite when it was built, who built it, or what its original purpose was. However, as with most of these mysteries, there are some traditional explanations! One such story has it that a new bride and groom were sailing around the headland watched by the bride’s father when a huge storm blew up and both were drowned. It seems that the father built the chapel in their memory and had a beacon installed on the top in order to warn all sailors of the dangers of that part of the coast. Come to think of it, that story seems to be very similar to one relating to another such church about which I blogged recently!

Whatever the truth, this is a beautiful chapel, in a wonderfully exposed and wild position along the Dorset coast. It gives off an air of strength and dependability. Simple, and some would say functional, but with mystery and intrigue enough to keep you wondering. And we will have to wonder on, because this landmark still hides most of its secrets and it appears to have no intention of releasing them any time soon!

But isn’t that a part of its magnetic charm?

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.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

 

Sea Mist

3 Jun

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

One more shot in our theme for the week which is all about using blur and movement to improve shots or simply to give a different effect. For this one, we are going to one of my favourite places, the quirky and rugged Church Ope Cove, on the Isle of Portland.

Church Ope Cove

Sea Mist

Sea Mist

Church Ope Cove gets its name from the fact that above the beach, Portland’s first church was built. Combined with this is the fact that the beach sits below an opening in the cliffs, allowing access to the shore, hence the Ope part of the name. The beach is in reality sandy, but quarrying debris has covered the sand so that the cove is now rocky, those rocks being worn round by the action of the sea. It is an area with a mysterious feel to it and one where there is much to explore, so I always enjoy a visit here.

On this occasion, there was a lovely surf washing in and out over the rocks and I wanted to capture the effect of that by blurring the water so I used a long shutter speed, holding it open for 65 seconds. The result was this dreamy, misty feel, although of course, it is not mist at all, just blurred surf. I decided on a simple composition, focussing on the only two rocks that stood above the surf level, and just including a small part of the headland beyond.

To me, this sums up the shoreline here, rocks being constantly washed and smoothed by the ever active, never ceasing waves. They roll in like a perpetual motion machine, an amazing wonder of nature. I never tire of watching it.

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.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

Winspit Waves

1 Jun

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

Continuing our theme of introducing blur and movement into photos to create a different effect, today we are visiting one of the coastal quarries that line the Dorset coast. This is the old, disused quarry of Winspit.

Winspit

The Angry Sea

Winspit Waves

Winspit sits just to the east of St Aldhelm’s Head but is still not very well protected from the South Westerly winds. Often, these whip up some good sized waves that crash violently onto the rocky shoreline, throwing spray everywhere. This was just such a day and I really wanted to capture the movement of the waves as they drove in towards the impenetrable rocks. I wanted somehow to capture the sheer force and mood of the stormy sea, so I decided to introduce a bit of blur into the shot to bring out the multi-directional wave movement as it bounced backwards and sideways from the rocks, meeting incoming waves head on in the process.

When I stand on these rocky ledges in these sorts of conditions, I can’t help but think about the quarry workers who shifted massive blocks of stone using the simplest of equipment. Sledges would be used to bring the rocks to the edge of the ledge and then a simple wooden derrick would hoist those stones and lower them into waiting boats that would then transport them farther out to sea using oar power only, to transfer them into larger vessels that would carry the rock either to Swanage or overseas. I think the skill of the quarrymen, especially those in the boats, is legendary!

These coastal quarries are amazing places and I will perhaps use that as a theme in the future because they deserve more space than I have allowed here. For now though, stand on the ledge with me, feel the wind and the spray, smell the sea, and hear the noise of waves crashing on rock! This is what I have tried to capture – I hope I have succeeded!

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.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.

The Old Pier

31 May

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

To continue with my theme of using blur and movement rather than freezing the action in order to give an alternative view of Dorset, we are today paying a visit to the remains of a very old pier in Swanage, a lovely town on the Dorset Coast Path.

The Old Pier, Swanage

Swanage

The Old Pier, Swanage

This is the original Swanage Pier that was opened in 1861 in order to serve the quarrying industry. Stone would be brought to Swanage from the coastal quarries and a pier was needed in order to offload this stone from the ships. Originally a tramway ran along this pier so that trucks could be used to transport the stone inland – the rails are still in place along the sea front paths. With the coming of a passenger steam service to Poole and Bournemouth, a second pier was needed and this was built in the late 19th century.

Due to a combination of the new pier and a declining stone industry, the old pier fell into disrepair, so much so that all you see today are the wooden piles that remain jutting out of the water. What was once a busy and active pier, has become nothing more than a resting place for gulls…….oh, and a huge magnet for photographers 🙂 !

This is a place that has been photographed countless times, and more often than not, the technique used is to set the camera with a very long exposure, in this case, 90 seconds. This has the effect of totally blurring the water in order to create this seemingly perfectly flat sea that looks almost as if it has iced over. It also has the effect of blurring the clouds. This technique therefore simplifies the scene, highlighting the only solid parts, the pier and the headland beyond.

This is a technique that can in my view be over used, and at one time it seemed that every picture involving the sea was a long exposure, such was its popularity amongst photographers. So much so that I was once contacted by a magazine editor who was looking for a picture of a particular bay, and when I asked him what he wanted, he said, ‘Anything that is not a long exposure’! You see, if you are not careful, even trying something different can quickly become very same-ish!

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.

All photographs, poems and words in this blog are the copyright of The Dorset Rambler and must not be reproduced without permission.