Tag Archives: spring

When is a Well not Well?

15 Jul

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

Well 🙂 its not when its ill that’s for sure. The answer is when it is a spring, because a well and a spring are two different things, and despite its name, this is technically not a well at all. We are back in Dorset today, and this is the Lepers’ Well at Lyme Regis.

The Lepers’ Well, Lyme Regis

Leper's Well

The Lepers’ Well, Lyme Regis

The Lepers’ Well is at Lyme Regis in West Dorset and it dates from at least the 14th century and possibly earlier. The well, and a small section of perimeter wall, is all that remains of a medieval Lepers’ Hospital that once stood nearby. Back in the Middle Ages, leprosy had a stigma attached. It was thought to be highly contagious and also believed to be a result of some curse or a punishment for sinful behaviour, so sufferers were outcasts and isolated away from society in places where they could be treated. The hospital and its associated chapel were dedicated to St Mary and the Holy Spirit.

Leper's Well

The Plaque at the Well

Today of course we are more enlightened and know that true leprosy is caused by a bacteria so is less contagious than was originally thought so such places as this were actually unnecessary and perhaps brought about simply by people’s prejudice.

In fact, in some ways, the Lepers’ Well fails on two counts as far as its name goes because not only is it not a well, but it wasn’t exclusively for lepers either as hundreds of years ago any skin disease would have been regarded as leprosy.

Surrounding the well is a small garden and it sits in a delightful position beside the River Lym (aka Lim) that runs for some six kilometres from source to sea. It is this river that gives Lyme Regis its name.

Leper's Well

The River Lym Viewed from the Lepers’ Well Garden

I always enjoy walking up the Lym Valley, following what is almost a causeway between the diminutive river on one side, and the mill leat on the other as this drove the Town Mill that still stands in Lyme Regis. The now gently flowing stream flows quietly past the Lepers’ Well in an altogether different scene than it would have been in the days when the hospital was in place. We can only wonder what this area looked like then.

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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The Wishing Well

23 May

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

Today, we continue our theme of ‘Quirky Dorset’ and for Part 18 I though we could take a look at one of Dorset’s many wells, and a wonderful place it is too! This is in part a natural and mesmerising wonder, delightful to watch and listen to. This is the so called Wishing Well at Upwey.

The Wishing Well, Upwey

Although this is known as the Wishing Well, it is not strictly a well at all but rather is a natural spring which is the source of the River Wey which flows from Upwey to Weymouth some 5 miles downstream. It is believed to date back to the last Ice Age and was at one time the village’s water supply. It is at this point where, because of the formation of rock, sand and clay, water literally bubbles its way to the surface from the underground stream. The water is always clear and maintains a steady temperature of 10.5 degrees.

Upwey Wishing Well

Although this is a natural phenomenon, it is one that has over the years been harnessed by man as an attraction to draw people into the area, and that includes royalty because it is said to have been something of a favourite place for King George III. In fact, the stone seat next to the well was specifically built for him. When he visited, he drank the waters from a special gold cup which interestingly became the original prize for a horse race known as the Ascot Gold Cup. In addition, it is said that Queen Charlotte and also HRH Edward, Prince of Wales both visited.

The royal connections continued because further changes were made to the site in 1887 when arches were added above the seat to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Upwey Wishing Well

One of the quirky things about this place is that there was a very specific way to drink the water! This involved filling a glass, drinking part of it with your back to the well, and then throwing the remainder over your left shoulder back into the well, making a wish as you did so. Such was the popularity of this practice that some villagers were appointed to help visitors with the process. Naturally, with modern health and safety requirements in mind, the practice is no longer encouraged.

One further change is that in recent years, the practice of dressing the well has taken place for May Day. This is a custom that is more associated with the Peak District but that has now come south to this Dorset well.

Upwey Wishing Well

The Wishing Well is a place that was for centuries just a natural ‘welling up’ of water to the surface and which was only popularised in the 19th century when the term ‘Wishing’ was added. Today, with its attached gardens and tea rooms, it is still a popular place. And deservedly so because it is quite magical to just sit and listen to the birds, the bees and the babbling spring.

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.

 

Theme for the Week – Dorset in Spring Part 5

29 Apr

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

So there is time for one last post on the subject of Dorset in Spring, highlighting some of the sights and sounds of this lovely season. We have looked at things from a landscaper and walker’s perspective, picking out rape fields, bluebell woods, spring green foliage, and colourful blossom, but of course there is much more to spring than this. The trees are not solely about the spring greens you see in the picture below.

Foliage of Spring

Spring Greens

There are many trees that have much more autumn coloured leaves in this season of new growth. Surely, aside from the ornamental trees, the copper beech must be king of the colours. Admittedly, the picture below was taken from the underside and the leaves are backlit by the sun which has exaggerated the redness, but this foliage is undoubtedly beautiful and bright, and provides a great contrast to the greens.

Copper Beach

Copper Beech

Other trees may not have the same degree of redness, but still have autumnal tints to their spring clothes. These would include the oak and hazel as their leaves unfurl under the warming sunshine. Especially good over a carpet of bluebells.

Spring Leaves

Oak Leaves in Spring

Leaves

Hazel Leaves

Beyond the woods, there are many other events that shout of spring. I still include lambing in this bracket even though it has become much more of a year-round event. To see new born lambs gambolling around the fields is just classic spring to me. And as an avid walker, I have been privileged to watch lambs being born in the fields. It is just an awesome sight and so natural.

And what about the birds, busy building their nests ready for the next generation to appear. In my garden I have blue tits and great tits nesting at the moment, and either in my garden or a neighbour’s are robins, blackbirds and pigeons. Butterflies are emerging daily too as well as other bugs and bees. There is so much activity.

Great Tit

A Nesting Great Tit

Out on the hillsides, cowslips are blooming, providing a yellow carpet. In amongst the trees, ramsons or wild garlic is flowering with its heady scent…….or so I’m told – it means little to me as I have no sense of smell. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes not! But wild garlic is lovely to look at as well as it lines the paths.

On Cowslip Hill

Cowslips on a Dorset Hillside

Spring is about so much, but if I were to pick out one thing, it would be new birth. Everything is about new beginnings in the lifecycle of nature and that includes us as, after the comparative doldrums of winter, we come alive again. I guess my tortoises are an extreme example of this cycle as they hibernate in winter and awaken in the warmer months. People don’t hibernate, but in some ways we do!

The countryside is fantastic at any time of year, but there is something special about the spring and I would just encourage you to get out and explore. It will clear all the winter cobwebs away that’s for sure.

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.

Theme for the Week – Dorset in Spring Part 4

27 Apr

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

So far this week we have talked about rape fields, bluebell woods, and spring green foliage, all things that typify this season of new birth. Plus of course the enigmatic cuckoo. Today we continue the theme of spring with some pictures of another spring event, the blossoming of the trees.

Cherry Blossom

Cherry Blossom

Everyone loves to see the trees in blossom, its like putting decorations on a Christmas tree – it makes it come alive and brightens up the area. Technically, in botanical terms, blossom occurs on stone fruit trees only but we tend to see any flowering tree as being in blossom. But it is in the fruit trees that it provides a vital role in supplying pollen to attract pollinators so that cross pollinating can occur. This is essential for the tree to produce fruit.

Blossom

Blossom and Blue Skies

At the end of spring when the blossom has served its purpose, the petals drop in their masses. Borne on the wind, they fall like snow and settle on the ground, providing a snowy carpet of colour, often pink but sometimes white or even orange. This is another stage in the lifecycle of the tree.

Fly Past!

Fly Past – Fluffy Rowan Blossom

 

Whether it be apple, pear, plum, cherry, peach, orange, or whatever, blossom brightens up the spring orchards, gardens and wood margins. And of course church yards as well.

Blossom in the Churchyard

Blossom in the Churchyard at Gussage All Saints

I guess the strangest of the flowering trees must be the rowan as there is so much folklore written about it. It seems it is very effective in use against witches and spells, with people planting them beside cottage doors, and shepherds even driving flocks of sheep through a circle of rowans to protect them! I just think they look great in their white garments of spring 🙂 !

Aside from Cherry Blossom Shoe Polish which we used when I was at school, the word ‘blossom’ just makes me think of spring, of blue skies and of sunshine. And what could be better?

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.

Theme for the Week – Dorset in Spring Part 3

26 Apr

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

The third thing to highlight in this mini series on Dorset in Spring is fresh spring foliage. After a dull winter with bare, sleeping trees, spring brings with it a wake up call as the trees start to stretch after their time of resting. Leaves start to gradually unfurl and they bear that beautifully crisp, vibrant and fresh lime green colour of new growth.

Spring Leaves

Spotlight on Spring

I love spring because everything is new and crisp and clean. I guess it is partly because everything seems quite barren and bare during the cold months so gradually as the trees wipe the sleepy dust from their eyes there is rebirth in the air. This has a psychological effect as we look forward to brighter days and wonderful walks in the warm sunshine again. The whole process speaks of new life as nature goes through its natural cycle. And our lives do the same.

Spring Greens

The Forest Puts on its New Coat

Spring is something that poets have waxed lyrical about for centuries. Shakespeare states, “When proud-pied April, dress’d in all his trim, Hath put a spirit of youth in every thing” – isn’t that just about right, a spirit of youth? And Billy Collins describes it as feeling like “taking a hammer to the glass paperweight on the living room end table, releasing the inhabitants from their snow-covered cottage”. As everything, including us, breaks out from the icy clutches of winter it is released again to blossom and bloom. And who can forget Tennyson’s words, “In the Spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love.” It is an awakening.

And it is not only poets who are inspired, composers of music have been inspired by this season for generations. Just listen to Vivaldi’s Spring from the Four Seasons, or Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony which was surely written in spring – just listen for the cuckoo. Bach’s Awake Thou Wintry Earth sums up this whole feeling of new life. The list is endless.

In the Green

Fresh Greens Beside the Path

In my garden, I have quite a few foliage plants and I like the evergreen ones that give me colour in the winter months. But I think the ones I like best are the Euonymus Emerald and Gold’s which in spring become almost bright yellow with their fresh foliage. Bright and beautiful to herald in the new season!

That’s not to say of course that all new spring growth is green as we shall see later! But there is nothing like the vibrant, verdant vegetation of spring with its message of new hope and new birth.

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.

Theme for the Week – Dorset in Spring Part 2

25 Apr

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

Imagine taking a walk that took in fields of golden rape followed by woodlands carpeted with bluebells. What could be better and what could give a clearer sign that spring is here, especially if you hear a cuckoo as well. Well this was just such a walk.

In the Bluebell Woods

Among the Bluebells

A Gnarly Tree

Having left the rape fields behind, for the time being at least, I headed for a series of woodlands that I knew would be carpeted with bluebells. In fact, some woodlands were more advanced than others in terms of the density of bluebells, possibly because of their position and how sunny the aspect was.

The picture above was actually taken in quite a small area of woods but the flowers were quite thickly spread and the trees had a lovely coating of new spring foliage which always helps the overall picture. Bluebells, as with rape, are quite difficult to photograph well because they rarely make a good picture on their own. To be effective, a picture needs a focal point and in this case, I chose that rather lovely gnarly tree – but then, I’m a big fan of trees!

In the Bluebell Woods

Ah, Beautiful Lichen

One of the other things I love is that wonderful vibrant green lichen that often coats trees or fence posts. To me, it always adds something to any picture.

Now there is a problem with bluebell fields, and that is people! Well, some people anyway because so often when you walk through these beautiful woodlands, you find all the bluebells trampled down. I’m actually not sure who is responsible for this ‘vandalism’, for that surely is what it is. I guess photographers might be partly to blame as they are always looking for a better viewpoint but I like to think that it is not down to those who are more experienced or to nature photographers. Surely they would respect the countryside code.

Of course, children love to run through bluebell woods, as of course do dogs…..well, and wild animals. In truth, it is probably down to a variety of reasons but it is really sad to see these lovely flowers crushed and ruined by careless feet, whoever they belong to! It is because of this that it is always great to come across a less well known woodland which is unspoilt.

Just to finish this series of bluebell pictures, I have included one below that I took last year. This is a good example of timing being critical because I visited these same woods on this walk and the flowers are not fully open yet. The problem is, leave it too late and they will be past their best.

In the Bluebell Woods

An Amazing Carpet

Sometimes I think, ‘Does the world need yet another bluebell picture?’ but then I walk through a woods and the camera immediately comes out. They are just hard to resist, and so amazing to see, so I think, yes, the world can’t have too many bluebell pictures 🙂 !

If you haven’t yet got out amongst the bluebells, I would urge you to put it at the top of your to-do list. Just find a log to sit on and drink in the scene before you. I reckon its hard to be stressed in a field of these lovely spring flowers that bless us each year without fail.

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.

Theme for the Week – Dorset in Spring Part 1

23 Apr

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

It’s Sunday and time for a new theme again for this coming week and I thought we would have a celebration of spring as captured on my recent walks. This week I sat on a high hilltop on a beautiful day overlooking an amazing view and across the valley came that sound which heralds in the spring, the sound of the cuckoo! So it is official now, spring is here, and nothing typifies spring like a field of bright yellow oil seed rape! So today we visit King Down.

King Down

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King Down is a few miles north west of Wimborne, not far from the Badbury Rings Hill Fort. It is not high at all but there are still lovely views all around, and invariably you walk to the accompaniment of skylarks. There are two well preserved round barrows at the top of the down but others that once stood around them have disappeared, possibly because of farming. The reason for their presence is the nearby Roman Road and Hill Fort. This was once an ancient cemetery.

It is interesting to compare two similar pictures taken just a week or two apart. In the bottom picture, the flowers are sparse but just a short time later after the sun has warmed up a little, the crop is in full glory.

King Down

It is also interesting to compare paths. On King Down, the path through the rape field is broad and easy to walk but later that day, I would be walking through the rape field that you see in the far distance and there, the path was narrow. You might wonder why this makes a difference but it does! As I walked through the later field, I was constantly brushing up against rape flowers on both sides as I squeezed through, being coated in a copious dusting of golden pollen and also a layer of what seemed like sap. For a hay fever sufferer, this would have been awful! For me it was just a nuisance and in fact I was more concerned about the very fine pollen getting into the camera.

So what makes the difference in the width of the paths? Well I believe it is horses. Which leads me on to another subject – horses, and riders of course, are both a blessing and a curse to walkers. In winter if you walk a bridle way, you are likely to find yourself walking in thick mud as the hooves churn up the wet ground. This doesn’t make for easy walking. But in summer, those same horses have the effect of keeping many paths clear of wild plants such as stinging nettles which would otherwise overgrow the paths. And of course, the ground is dry so the hooves don’t have the same effect on the ground as in winter.

Anyway, back to our walk through King Down 🙂 ! It is a truly lovely place and although it is not in any way remote, it feels remote, and that makes it a great place to walk. It is much quieter than the more popular paths at Badbury Rings, and there is nothing better than to sit atop one of the barrows and just drink in the sea of spring yellow at your feet whilst listening to the skylark overture. Just wonderful.

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.