Monday, 27 March 2017

We're on the Jurassic Coast

We're on the Jurassic Coast (near Swanage)

Thursday 23rd - Monday 27th March 2017

Thursday was moving day so we left our lovely  little camping spot at Greenwoods in the New Forest and headed to Herston Yard Farm Campsite near Swanage on the Jurassic Coast - and it's ok here but I much prefer the small cosy sites really!  Our journey wasn't far, but as we'd stopped a couple of times - once at a farm shop and again at Lidl to restock our goodies cupboard, we arrived around 2ish, and then our afternoon walk into town was further delayed because I took the time to make some delicious broccoli and stilton soup for our late lunch - yummy!
On Friday it was more coastal path walking, but initially we weren't overly impressed - I think Tintagel and Boscastle had spoiled us a bit!  However perseverance certainly paid off and in the end we were treated to more fantastic seascapes and views of craggy cliffs as we went.   We left the campsite and initially found ourselves slipping and sliding along a muddy track which led us out towards the sea, and then took us along the coast line but very high up on the hills.  But, eventually we managed to wend our way down to the cliff top path, and from there our walk improved immensely.
Apparently, the part of the coastal path that we were traversing is called 'The Priest's Way' - an ancient route used by the local priest to walk between his churches and one that now passes through National Trust Land. This area also has a very long history in relation to quarrying - we later learnt that the white limestone from here has been exploited since Roman times for the construction of cathedrals and other monumental buildings.  

Eventually the path led us to 'Dancing Ledge' which turned out to be a very convenient stopping off place for our lunch - it lies about 3 miles along the coast  from Swanage and on the other side, about a mile from Seacombe.  To get to this very picturesque spot we had  to scramble down an ancient staircase that led us onto a  large rock platform like area which is fronted by the actual 'ledge'  and backed by old Quarrs (shafts) dug into and under the rock-face - however the entries to these are all closed off now!

We settled down on a big rock that doubled as a bench and got our sarnies out, and from our comfy perch we  could literally watch the sea dance! Apparently, Dancing Ledge is so called because at certain stages of the tide when the waves wash over the horizontal surface of rock that sits just below the ledge the water undulates and bobs about as if dancing.  However, in times gone by this part of the coast has performed a much more functional purpose because the ledge forms a straight drop off into the sea which is deep enough for small ships to come right up to it.  Therefore, in the 18th and 19th centuries stone was ferried from here and taken around the south coast of Kent to Ramsgate where it was used to build the Harbour there.

Eventually, after we'd spent a considerable time soaking up the ambience of the area we decided to get moving  again, but we didn't go much further before starting to retrace out steps which allowed us to admire the views in the opposite direction.  And it was on this leg of our journey that we came across an actual old Quarr shaft that had been renovated.  We learnt that the stone was cut and loaded into a Quarr cart underground, and then winched to the surface using donkey power!

Then finally, the path led us back into Swanage and we finished our 10 mile walk via a local shop where we picked up some light refreshments to sip back in the comfort of T4rdis2.

On Saturday we decided we'd give our walking muscles a rest and cycle instead - just a little 38 mile round trip to Lulworth Cove and back - and by the time we got there we were very glad of our battery propelled bikes cos there were more than one or two hills! However, although our ride was quite lovely in parts, it didn't turn out to be one of the best because when we arrived in the very pretty town of Lulworth it was almost impossible to move because of the crowds - well it was Saturday and the sun had well and truly got it's hat on!  And unfortunately, the crowds weren't the only thing that caused a bit of disgruntlement to our day - there were 2 others occasions - when John managed to acquire punctures - first in his front wheel and then in his back!

But having said all that there were also some very attractive bits to our ride - like the views of Corfe Castle sitting elevated above the town, and also the magnificent Povington Hill  from where we almost had 360 degree views of the Purbeck Hills, and coast.  And this was the spot that we picked to have our lunch, but we couldn't stay for long because the gusting wind was trying very hard to tear the filling our of our sandwiches!

On Sunday it was back to walking again and today our target was Old Harry's Rocks, on a circular route that would be about 12 miles.  We left T4rdis2 and headed for the little settlement of Ulwell from where we needed to climb about 200 steps up to an obelisk that is situated on the Coastal Path on Ballard Down.  Apparently it was rescued from London by George Burt and was erected in it's present spot in 1892 to mark the completion of a nearby resevoir. However, during WWII it was dismantled because it was thought to be an aid to enemy aircraft, but then later re-erected as a memorial by the Voluntary Men of 129 Field Squadron Royal Engineers.

From there we continued on our way towards Old Harry's Rocks and we were once again rewarded with magnificent views, this time of white chalky cliffs, 'stacks'  and arches formed by the action of the waves. And once again we 'suffered' a very windy lunch, but we weren't complaining - it's not everyday you can find a dining room that is quite so exhilarating.

After the rocks the coastal path took us back towards and through Swanage and on to Durlston Castle, and then our circuit was completed by passing through Durlston Country Park before we returned home for a lovely tea that we'd acquired from the farm shop in the New Forest a few days ago - faggots mash and mushy peas - it was delicious!

And on Monday we decided to have a 'day off' to sit and enjoy the lovely sunshine.  Having said that our morning was occupied by scrubbing the van both inside and out and doing a ton of washing - oh it's a hard life!!

Tomorrow will be another moving day - this time to a site near Chichester, so from here it's Goodbye from us for now 👋👋👋👋

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