Tag Archives: sunset

Causing a Big Splash

17 Aug

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

The dancing surf

This was taken some time ago as I was walking the lovely Dorset Coast Path and I arrived at Chapman’s Pool, a delightful bay nestling between the headlands of Houns Tout and St Aldhelm’s Head. It was a beautiful evening, the sun was beginning to set and I decided that I would try to capture the moment. This cluster of rocks made a good focal point but I wanted to create some movement by including a dancing wave so I waited, and waited, and waited…….!

Wave after wave rolled in and I held my camera up in readiness but they all just fizzled out. Even when seemingly giant waves came towards the shore, they made no significant splash when they hit the rocks; despite their promise, they amounted to nothing. I almost gave up but then this tiny wave came in, well I almost ignored it as it was obviously not powerful enough to give me what I wanted! But do you know what, that tiny wave created a splash bigger that any of the larger waves, and I got my picture 🙂 !

I like the picture – am I allowed to say that when its one of mine? It might be because I knew the picture I wanted to create, I planned it in my mind, and I captured it just as I imagined it, and that is always satisfying. It could be because it reminds me of a fabulous evening with the sand beneath my feet, the gentle breeze on my face and the sound of the surf rolling up the beach as the day faded to night. It could be that it reminds me of a great day’s walking. Anyway, back to the wave……

Why it happened, I am not sure. I guess it was more about timing than size and that the little wave broke at just the right time but it made me think about life. Often we think that we are insignificant and that we are not making much impact in this huge sea that is our world. That we see others who are seemingly creating a big splash, a noticeable impact with their high profile lives, leaving their mark whilst we are just ordinary people who go by seemingly unnoticed.

Its a bit like the often told starfish story where thousands of starfish have been stranded on the beach after a storm. A young girl is walking along the beach picking them up one by one and throwing them back into the sea when an old man approaches her and says, ‘Why are you doing that, there are thousands, and several miles of beach, you can’t possibly make a difference’. She bends and picks up another one and throws it into the ocean saying, ‘It made a big difference to that one’.

So I guess, aside from hopefully enjoying the picture, the message is – if you ever think you are insignificant, just remember that you are uniquely you, one of a kind, and you make a difference in your part of the ocean in a way no one else can.

And remember too that often its the smallest wave that makes the biggest splash!

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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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.

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.

Theme for the Week – Quirky Dorset Part 6

9 Apr

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

For our theme this week, I thought we would come back to ‘Quirky Dorset’ and feature a few more things in my lovely county that are perhaps a little bit ‘off the wall’ 🙂 ! And this is one of my favourites – it is The Smugglers’ Path.

The Smugglers’ Path, White Nothe

I love walking this path…..if you can call it a path! It runs from the top of the White Nothe  (aka White Nose) headland down to the rocky seashore some 170 meters (550 feet) below. The path is steep, very steep, and it zig zags its way down the cliff face with amazing views all across Ringstead Bay to the west. Below, there are just rocks which may be covered if the tide is high.

The Smugglers Path

The Smugglers’ Path, White Nothe

This is a breathtaking walk in more ways than one! The views are breathtaking, the steepness is breathtaking if you are not good with heights, and if you are climbing up, it definitely takes your breath away 🙂 ! Whether this path was actually used by smugglers or not seems unclear but the fact that a row of coastguard cottages was built at the top in the early 1900’s would seem to suggest that it was. Of course, the whole of the Dorset coast was used by smugglers to bring their contraband ashore under cover of darkness. With its wild remoteness, White Nothe would have been ideal for this practice!

This path, and its past, was immortalised by J Meade Falkner in his book ‘Moonfleet’ as it was the inspiration for Elzevir Block’s escape from the Excise men, accompanied by a very young John Trenchard. I have reproduced a short passage below.

The Smugglers Path

The Top of the Smugglers’ Path

‘Forgive me, lad,’ he said, ‘if I have spoke too roughly. There is yet another way that we may try; and if thou hadst but two whole legs, I would have tried it, but now ’tis little short of madness. And yet, if thou fear’st not, I will still try it. Just at the end of this flat ledge, farthest from where the bridle-path leads down, but not a hundred yards from where we stand, there is a sheep-track leading up the cliff. It starts where the under-cliff dies back again into the chalk face, and climbs by slants and elbow-turns up to the top. The shepherds call it the Zigzag, and even sheep lose their footing on it; and of men I never heard but one had climbed it, and that was lander Jordan, when the Excise was on his heels, half a century back. But he that tries it stakes all on head and foot, and a wounded bird like thee may not dare that flight. Yet, if thou art content to hang thy life upon a hair, I will carry thee some way; and where there is no room to carry, thou must down on hands and knees and trail thy foot.’

(From Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner – as young John Trenchard and Elzevir Block flee from the Excise Men)

White Nothe sunset

White Nothe at Sunset

The description by J Meade Falkner was perhaps a little exaggerated, but nevertheless, this path can still be scary to walk if the weather is stormy with the wind taking you off balance and the wet making the steep path slippery. But it is a path that I love for its sheer quirkiness…..and perhaps for the feeling that you are somehow following in the footsteps of some ancient smugglers! It is definitely not to be missed if you are walking this part of the Dorset coast!

Thanks for stopping by.

Until tomorrow,
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 Sandbanks Ferry

7 Mar

The Sandbanks Ferry is an icon of Poole Harbour and a mode of transport that has featured in my life since I was a babe in a pram and my parents used to take me across to the beach at Shell Bay where the whole family would gather. Even now, all those years later, I feel I have a connection with this somewhat quirky way of crossing the harbour entrance, and any walk I take that involves this ferry is still richer for the experience.

Bramblebush Bay

The Bramblebush Bay

Poole Harbour is one of the largest natural harbours in the world with nearly 15 square miles of water and 100 miles of coastline but the entrance is just 300 meters wide.  The peninsulas either side of the entrance were originally just sand spits without roads but now the situation is considerably different, and totally contrasting too. The southern peninsula, South Haven Point, comprises just heathland and beaches whilst the northern shoreline, unsurprisingly known as North Haven Point, is made up of some of the most expensive real estate in the world – you would need to be a multi-millionaire just to buy a plot of land here!

Between the two is that short stretch of fast flowing water as the tide fills and empties the harbour, much as a tap fills a bottle.

On the Sandbanks Ferry

On the Sandbanks Ferry

It was in the early 1900’s that the first suggestion for a harbour entrance crossing was muted, in order to avoid a road trip of some 25 miles around the inland perimeter of the harbour.  The suggestion was that this should be a transporter bridge although the proposal failed, as did several other schemes.

From the early 1900’s, foot passengers were catered for by a rowing boat ferry that operated during the summer, carrying passengers across to and from the wild and remote Shell Bay. This must have been really hard work for the oarsman especially when the strong tides were running through that narrow harbour entrance.  This rowboat ferry was eventually changed to a motor boat service.

Looking Out to Sea

Looking Out to Sea

It was just before the First World War that the suggestion was made that a vehicle ferry should be set up and some 9 years later, the Bournemouth-Swanage Motor Road And Ferry Company was formed to progress this.  Roads needed to be built and slipways formed with Purbeck Stone being brought in from the Dorset coastal quarries either overland or by barge.  With some of the land being boggy marshlands, copious amounts were needed.

On 15th July 1926, the first ferry, a small coal fired, steam driven craft carrying up to 15 cars, commenced service.  This continued to operate for over 30 years, although the service was suspended during World War Two as the whole area was taken over by the military.

In the mid 1950’s, a new and larger ferry was installed.  This carried up to 28 cars and again operated for some 35 years before being taken out of service.

The current ferry, The Bramblebush Bay, came into service in 1994 and was larger again with a length of 244 feet and a beam of 54 feet.  This carries up to 48 cars but when fully loaded still has a draught of only 3 feet 9 inches – despite its size, the average depth of the water in the harbour is just 48cm.

In Transit

The Poole Harbour Entrance

The ferry operates on two hardened steel chains, each 1,235 feet long, anchored at either side of the harbour entrance.  Wear and tear on the chain causes it to stretch and two links have to be taken out each fortnight in order to maintain the optimum length.  Although there are two chains, the ferry actually drives on one side at a time only (the side farthest from the flowing tide) in order to make it easier to manouvre at the slipway and to reduce cost.  There is a tremendous strain on the chains, especially when a strong tide is flowing and a chain has been known to break.  The chains are replaced every 15/18 months and the old ones sold off, often for use as weights for lobster pots or boat moorings etc.

The Evening Ferry

At the End of the Day

To travel on the Sandbanks Ferry is a delight and there is no better way to start and finish a walk.  It is still one of my regular haunts and I thoroughly enjoy both the quirkiness and the amazing views, especially at sunrise and sunset.

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.