Tag Archives: Devon

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.

 

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When is Grass not Grass?

8 Jul

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

Well, the answer is when it is Cotton Grass!

Cotton Grass

You see, Cotton Grass with its beautiful fluffy white heads is actually not a grass at all, but rather is related to the sedge family. It grows on boggy moors and heaths, and at first glance looks like a load of cotton wool blowing across the landscape as it waves its head in the breeze. In summer, this ‘grass’ can really bring a barren heath to life!

Cotton Grass on Bursdon Moor

These pictures were taken on Bursdon Moor in Devon on a somewhat dull day, and the fluffy heads just gave the moorlands a bit of interest and life. Standing there watching the Cotton Grass blowing in the strong breeze was a delight and the overcast sky seemed to bring out the character of this barren area.

Just as an aside, there is a very quiet country lane crossing this area of moorlands but there was nowhere to park without risking getting stuck in the boggy ground, so I left my car in the road while I quickly ran across the moor to get my pictures. Of course, Murphy’s Law kicked in and at the moment I was farthest from the car, a van chose to also drive across the moors. So I had to run back to the car again as there was no room for him to pass me.

The things we do to get a picture 🙂 !

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.

On Bursdon Moor

3 Jul

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

Now I know my strap line says, ‘Exploring the countryside and lanes of Dorset’ but this week I thought we would hop across the border into Devon. The reason for this little excursion is that I have just returned from a week in that lovely county so I thought I’d post a few pictures from the trip. It wasn’t a walking holiday this time but I managed to get out and about anyway, and of course my camera came with me 🙂 !

On Bursdon Moor

The weather was a little mean and moody at times and I wanted to reflect this, and where better than on Bursdon Moor, which is one of the last remaining areas of Culm Grassland. As with Dorset, much of the moorland has been tamed for farming but this area remains high and bleak, especially on a day such as this. It is an SSSI and cattle graze there to aid conservation. Fortunately for me, these two were black which worked perfectly for my picture 🙂 !

More, or is that moor, to come 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.

Along the coast path with a backpack – Day 4

28 Sep

I had high hopes for a stunning sunrise visible from my tent on the headland but once again I was disappointed as the view below greeted me when I unzipped the flysheet.  Another misty morning, and in fact it was to stay with me all day.  Nevertheless I was looking forward to another great days walking.

It had been a strange night!  The ground I had pitched on that looked perfectly level yesterday in fact sloped making sleep difficult.  Only the careful placing of various items out of my rucksack stopped me from sliding down the tent ;)!

Eager to get out on the trail again, I had a quick breakfast and squeezed everything back into my tardis of a rucksack.

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Another misty morning

Setting out along the headland heading south, I quickly reached the point and turned west – well it was either that or walk out into the sea ;)!  The beautifully atmospheric scene below greeted me.  At this point there are two choices, to walk across the headland or to drop down and walk another undercliff path although a much shorter one than yesterday.  I chose the more interesting route and headed down the cliffside where the path wove through the contours of the collapsed cliff, passing gnarled trees growing out of rocks with seemingly no soil.

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The undercliff walk

Eventually, having reached sea level, the path climbed up again and over the next headland before dropping down a gentle grassy slope into Branscombe Mouth.  Despite the grey morning and lack of people, there was a cafe open by the beach and I was tempted to call in for breakfast, but I chose to continue walking.  As I headed up the next climb though I looked back and wondered if I should have stopped ;)!

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Branscombe Mouth

Once again I disappeared into the mist and once again dropped down into another bay, this time Weston Mouth.  The walk down was similar to the last one, gentle and grassy but the climb up is somewhat different!

Having reached beach level, a long and steep series of steps took me through the trees and shrubbery to reach the steep, grassy hillside above.  Here I paused for elevenses beside Weston Plats, an area that could be described as 19th century clifftop allotments.  The micro climate was conducive to producing early flowers and vegetables, notably the Branscombe potato, and the position above the beach kept the village fishermen occupied whilst enabling them to keep an eye on the sea.  The Plats are now owned by The National Trust.

In the 1800’s the villagers used donkeys to transport their produce and as I struggled up the steep slope I wished I had one to transport me ;)!

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Weston Mouth with Weston Plats in the trees the other side

It was interesting walking over the flat, grassy headlands!  Usually route finding on the coast is fairly simple – just keep the sea on your left and the land on your right.  However when you can see neither, that adage becomes somewhat inappropriate!  With dense mist and low cloud, visibility was minimal and for much of the time there were no clear paths to follow.  Now I’m usually a map and compass sort of a guy but it is at times like these that I am grateful to the smart phone app designers and for the inbuilt GPS :)!

This kept me on track and ultimately I dropped down into Sidmouth, one of the larger seaside towns along this part of the coast.

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Sidmouth

As I walked down another gentle grassy slope I could hear the sound of jazz music wafting up on the breeze and I looked forward to sitting and listening to it as I had some lunch.  Annoyingly though when I reached the town all was silent!

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The beach at Sidmouth

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that the red cliffs would become a feature of this walk and this was very evident as I reached the seafront and looked back.  This red sandstone would stay with me for the rest of the walk.

Sidmouth is a popular tourist spot even on a day such as this.  Normally this would make me pass through quickly but I needed sustenance so I stopped for lunch before ambling along the sea front passing empty deck-chairs, a reminder of a summer now seemingly gone.

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Sidmouth sea front

Eventually I left the town, passing the well known Jacob’s Ladder, a promontory that was once a lime kiln, now converted to a cafe.

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Jacob’s Ladder

Ahead of me was the last real up hill section of the walk.  Climbing up along the Monks Path I crossed High Peak, once an Iron Age hill fort although part of it has long since collapsed into the sea.  High Peak was a somewhat sad sight as the last time I walked there it was covered in a wonderful woodland.  Now though the top is bare.

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High Peak in the mist

I dropped down the other side into Ladrum Bay with its amazing red sandstone geological features.  Many sea stacks stand proud along the shoreline which is rich in Triassic fossils, indeed it is one of the most important sites in the world for these remains.  Ladrum Bay is also home to a large caravan site and as I passed through, there was one incident that made me chuckle out loud!

Beside the cliff top I passed a man with a controller in his hand nonchalantly gazing out to sea.  Just along the coast there was a radio controlled helicopter ducking and diving and doing all sorts of fast aerobatics and I was amazed that the man controlling it could do all that whilst not even looking at it…….until I realised he wasn’t!  Far out at sea I could just make out a silent radio controlled glider – someone else was clearly operating the helicopter :)!

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Ladrum Bay

The coastline along this part is more gently undulating that the switch back of previous days and it was a very enjoyable easy walk for my last afternoon.  Despite the constant mist, there were still lovely atmospheric views in all directions.  As usual the path became slightly busier along this stretch, a clear outcome of having a nearby caravan park.  What I think is great though is how everyone says ‘hello’ as they pass, or stops to pass the time of day.  I thought it would be good if this practice could be extended to our towns where people pass by anonymously.

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The view back to Ladrum Bay with High Peak beyond

There was one particular young couple – we passed each other probably four times, each leapfrogging the other as we stopped at different times.  We had met earlier in the day when they were struggling to find the route with their map and my smart phone app came to the rescue.  We chatted several times along the way and they passed me once more along this stretch of the coast.  I didn’t come across them again and it seemed almost sad – who were they and what were their stories?  Our paths had crossed momentarily and probably never will do again.

My route continued over Brandy Head, so named because of its connection with smuggling which was rife all along this coast.  Kegs of Brandy were one of the main commodities and gave the headland its name.

It is also known for the somewhat innocuous building in the picture below.  This was the observation hut used in World War II to test new aircraft mounted canon and gunsights.  Local boys from Otterton used to sneak out on to Brandy Head and watch the aircraft whilst hiding in the shrubbery – somewhat dangerous but fun!  Apparently divers would collect gun cases from the sea bed and sell them at Ladrum Bay.  This headland has quite a history!

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Brandy Head Observation Post

I was nearing the end of my walk now and before dropping off the headland I took at last look back the way I had come.  There was a distinctly autumnal feel in both the colours and the mist as the coast faded into the distance.

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Autumn on the coast

Turning to continue my journey, I had a first view of Budleigh Salterton, my finishing point.  Not that the walking was over as this is yet another place that necessitated walking a mile or so inland to cross the River Otter and marshes before walking back out the other side to reach the town itself.

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Budleigh Salterton

At 5.15pm, after walking just under 16 miles, I walked onto the sea front.  It was a fitting place to end my four day ‘pilgrimage’ as one line of my ancestors came from there.  I therefore have Budleigh Salterton blood in my veins :)!

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Budleigh Salterton beach

What a fabulous four days!  Sunshine, gale force winds, pouring rain, mist, low cloud, what a variety of conditions – it was impossible to get bored with the weather.

I wish I had been able to take my DSLR so that I could have done more justice to some wonderful views that my little compact camera couldn’t handle but there literally wasn’t a square centimetre of space in my rucksack.  Nevertheless, I hope the pictures have given you a flavour of a fantastic walk and that you have enjoyed walking with me.

Thanks for reading.

Until next time,

Your friend
The Dorset Rambler (or should that be The Devon 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.

Along the coast path with a backpack – Day 3

26 Sep

I looked out of the tent to once again see a grey, misty morning.  In my mind I had seen myself waking up early to beautiful misty sunrises, enabling me to take some wonderfully atmospheric pictures but so far that hadn’t materialised.  At least it wasn’t too windy and it wasn’t raining, although again the tent was soaked in dew.

Today was to be a shorter day, just 11 miles although it turned out to be longer.  I lingered for a while over my cup of tea and breakfast snack before once again squeezing everything into my too small rucksack and heading off.  Walking back through the village of Uplyme I passed the cottage below with a stained glass window depicting the nearby viaduct.  For a moment it took me back to my lovely stroll in the fading light of yesterday evening.

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The Cannington Viaduct door

For a time I retraced my steps from yesterday to reach The Old Mill again, where I turned south to follow the River Lim down into Lyme Regis.  This was a lovely walk, part of which goes through the town along a ’causeway’ with the river on one side and the mill stream on the other and with some delightful old cottages.

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Betwixt and between

Lyme Regis is nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Dorset’ and dates from Saxon times although it developed more as a port in the 13th century.  The town was once served by a railway but the line closed as part of the Beeching axe of the 1960’s, hence the disused viaduct two miles up the valley.

It is probably most famous for its fossils and for The Cobb, the harbour wall built around the 13th/14th century which featured in the film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’.  It is a delightful place to explore although it is also a popular tourist destination.  For me, the perfect time to visit is in the early morning as I did today.

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Yesterday’s walk with the distinctive shape of Golden Cap left of centre

I reached the sea front and immediately spotted a cafe advertising bacon baps so I sat outside and enjoyed breakfast looking out across Lyme Bay to the coastline I had walked yesterday.  In the picture above, Golden Cap, now clear of mist, is  visible with its distinctive flat top.  What a great place to sit and enjoy breakfast :)!

I had only walked two miles so it was time to move on and turning west, I headed off along the sea front with The Cobb ahead of me stretching out to sea.

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Lyme Regis and The Cobb

Having explored The Cobb, well no visit to Lyme Regis is complete without walking out on the old harbour wall, I climbed up to the coast path which follows the under cliff.

The next few miles would be deceptively difficult as despite having no major headlands, the route unceasingly climbs and falls, weaving in and out of the trees along the winding, muddy footpath with slippery rocks, tree roots and other hazards, not to mention a million steps ;)!  It is not a place to relax as you have to watch your feet constantly.  Near the start I passed the sign below warning that it is 4 hours of arduous walking and no escape routes.  But it is a wonderful place to walk!

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Warning!!

The Axmouth to Lyme Regis under cliff was formed by a series of huge landslides in the 18th and 19th century that created a middle ground between the cliff top and the beach.  It stretches for some 7 miles and it was a fashionable place to visit in victorian times.  There was even a cottage built there where cream teas were sold to the tourists.  At one time it was grazed by sheep, keeping the undergrowth in check but over the years it has become more overgrown.  It is now a National Nature Reserve and is a haven for wildlife.

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Deep in the woods – Hart’s-tongue ferns

The under cliff is quite an eerie place with the dense undergrowth, overhanging trees and the constant dampness, especially noticeable after yesterday’s rain.  It feels almost like a forgotten place, like some remote rain forest where no-one goes.  This feeling is emphasised by the few derelict cottages that lie amongst the trees.  I often wonder who lived there and what their lives were like!

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Derelict cottages in The Under Cliffs

There is a video of the walk on the web entitled, ‘The Path Goes on Forever’ and it can seem that way!  Beautifully cool on a hot summers day but perhaps a little dark on a grey autumn morning such as this, so I was pleased when at last the way opened out a bit more and I could see the Beer headland ahead of me.  My bed for the night was on that far headland and I had crossed the border into Devon.

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The way opens out ahead

I was not out of the woods yet though as there was still more under cliff to go through but ultimately the path climbed up and out onto the cliff top with just the sky above me.  And just for good measure, that was the moment the sun chose to come out.  I sat on a seat and enjoyed a rest for a few moments before continuing up and over the headland and dropping down through a golf course to reach the River Axe..

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The River Axe

Crossing the river, it was then just a short walk into Seaton, a seaside town with rather an interesting roundabout, or ‘Pedalabout’ as it is known :)!

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The Pedalabout

I didn’t linger in Seaton as in my view, its near neighbour Beer is much more attractive but I did take a last look back before climbing once again towards the next headland.  Looking back across Seaton, I noted a change in the geology from white chalk to red sandstone.  This red rock would become a feature of the walk later.

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Looking back at Seaton

Theoretically, at this point I had just a mile and a half to walk but I hadn’t reckoned on yet another cliff fall until I came across the sign below.  I diverted inland for an extra mile or two before rejoining the coast path near the top of the headland.

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Diversion!

I always like walking over this headland as the path is easy, meaning that you can enjoy the beautiful views in both directions.  This is a welcome change from the under cliff where I had to watch my every step.  Looking east, I could see Seaton with Axe Cliff beyond…..

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Looking towards Seaton and Axe Cliff

…..and looking west I had my first view of Beer.  This beautiful coastal town gets its name not from the alcoholic beverage but from the Anglo-Saxon word for grove, as the area was heavily forested then.  It grew up around what was a smugglers’ cove with caves that were once used to store contraband.  Its main legitimate trades were fishing and lace making, with the former benefitting from the fact that Beer Head protects the cove from the prevailing westerly winds making it a very sheltered spot.  Fishing still goes on today but tourism is probably the main industry now.

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The first view of Beer

As my camp for the night was on the headland, I continued up the hill to Beer Head and pitched the tent.  It was only 4.15pm and there was plenty of warmth in the sun, giving a good opportunity to dry the tent, waterproofs and other clothes still damp from yesterday.  And of course to chill over a cup of tea outside the tent :)!  I was particularly pleased that I had now walked for three days with a heavy load and my ankle was still holding up well.

Evening came and I walked back down into the village where there is a great pub, with an even better beer garden overlooking the beach.  I sat in the evening light and had a beer in a Beer beer garden ;), and of course something to eat!

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A beer in a Beer beer garden – taken with the iPhone

Oh, and I spotted the photographic opportunity below :)!

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Can’t you read?!!!

Beer is such a delightful village, one of my favourite places and it was great to have reached camp early enough to be able to spend some time here.  Strolling along the beach lined with fishing boats which had been winched up out of the water made a very peaceful end to a great day.  The sun had set behind the headland, the gulls were wheeling around overhead and the air was still.  Later as I walked back to the tent by the light of the moon with the village lights flickering below, the words of the poet came to me, ‘All was left to darkness and to me’.  Perfect!

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Evening on Beer beach

Thanks for reading.

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.