Tag Archives: The Dorset Rambler

The Smugglers’ Cave

18 Jul

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

Continuing our theme of quirky things in Dorset – I think this must be Quirky Dorset Part 25 🙂 – we return to the coast, and a very hidden part of the Jurassic Coast too. And we are visiting another part of Dorset with a really adventurous past……..ah, if only rocks could talk! This is the Smugglers’ Cave.

The Smugglers’ Cave

The Smugglers' Cave

The Smugglers’ Cave

The Smugglers’ Cave is situated in a tucked away position in Mupe Bay, or to be more exact, Bacon Hole, which is a tiny bay just west of Mupe Bay. It is rugged and remote, miles away from the nearest town or road. The only way here is on foot and that is no easy walk either, and there is no way down from the cliff top above other than to continue east to access the beach at Mupe Bay and then retrace your steps back along the rocky shore.

You could easily miss this cave as it is not easily visible from the coast path and even from the waters edge, it is still not obvious. It is sited a couple of miles east of Lulworth Cove and village and it is fairly clear why this would be a good choice for smugglers to land and store their contraband ready for onward movement inland. Goods such as brandy, wine and tea would have been landed in this sheltered cove and moved swiftly into the cave under cover of darkness.

The entrance to the cave slopes at a forty five degree angle because of the way the strata has been crumpled and upturned along this part of the coast. As you enter the mouth, you can spot the false back wall with its small square door in the gloom. It was behind this wall that the contraband would have been stored, protected from the elements.

Smugglers' Cave

The Inner Chamber

Behind the door is a small but secret hideaway that would be even harder to spot than the cave itself, hidden in the shadows as it is. The only things stored here now are numerous plastic bottles, washed in by the tide, just another sign of a severe problem that besets this beautiful land of ours in this plastic age!

Stand at the door and look out, and you see Mupe Rocks, jagged and upturned like the cave itself. These rocks stretch in a line out into the bay, a result of coastal erosion that has worn away the land that once surrounded them leaving them isolated like mini islands. It is these very rocks that would have provided some protection from the elements as the small boats headed for shore.

The Smugglers' Cave

Mupe Rocks Viewed from the Smugglers’ Cave

This is a wonderful place to visit, wild, remote, often deserted, with just the sounds of the sea and gulls for company. At times however, there will be the sound of gunfire, not the historic echoing of the coastguards as they fire at smugglers in the dead of a dark night but the sound of modern heavy military guns. You see, this cave and the bay, along with much of this part of the coast sits in the middle of an M.O.D. gunnery range and so is only open to the public at certain times.

Have a care, if you want to visit this cave, make sure you do it at the right time otherwise you might get more of a smuggler’s experience than you bargained for!

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.