We live in one of the land locked counties of England, it’s beautiful, with its rivers and hills, but I find myself often yearning for the sea. A lot of my reading of late has been sea soaked; Amy Liptrot’s brilliant memoir ‘The Outrun’ about escaping a destructive lifestyle in London and moving back to Orkney; Tom Cox’s accounts of his Devon coastal walks. These made me think, it’s time to soak up some salt spray and, if not feel sand between the toes, at least see it from a cliff top.
I have a particular fondness for the Dorset coast which makes up part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site (all the information is here: http://jurassiccoast.org/) in particular the bit between Studland and Portland, though it’s all worth seeing really – I like a fish’n’chips and ice cream seaside town almost as much as I like a wild weatherbeaten cliff face.
We only had day though, and a small boy who isn’t yet fully convinced about the pleasures of cold blowy coastal walking, so we had a little trip off to Worth Matravers with a bribe of the scary Splashzone swimming pool in, umm, Poole, as a reward for walking without complaining too much.
From Worth Matravers (which has in the Square and Compasses one of the best pubs in the world, and a name worthy of a Regency rake) you can walk down to Winspit and the old Winspit quarry workings, over the National Trust land of East Man. We did more or less this walk but cut a bit short, though that did involve a very steep bit of hill! The weather was all we could have wished for in February; bright blue sky, winter sunshine and enough wind for proper breakers to crash against the rocks.
We set off from the car park (£2 a day, they trust you to put it in the honesty box) and after a muddy plod across the field through a number of quite large puddles we reached the cliff tops.
The sea was a beautiful blue, and so was the sky. It stayed that way all day. In fact I think it got even bluer when we drove through Studland to the chain ferry, but I failed to take a picture of that.
And here is the sea IN ACTION (apologies for the rather queasy making camera swing at the end, I heard an excellent wave, and attempted to catch it).
Of course, the other thing I love about this area is all the ‘old stuff’. The medieval strip lynchett field systems which can still be seen on the hillsides:
And the old Winspit quarry almost on the cliff edge, which is perfect for climbing and shouting into. And for starring in excellent BBC science fiction series. It’s been in Dr Who and Blakes 7! No Daleks or Federation forces about today though.
Once we’d explored the spooky quarry workings to the 7 year old’s satisfaction we made our way back to the village and, importantly, the pub. We passed sea cabbages, climbed the big stairs and followed a pair of singing skylarks up the hill, until the village could be seen in the distance.
And what do you do at the end of a blustery seaside walk? Well, we usually have a pie and a pint. We don’t usually find a tree trunk facsimile of Stonehenge by the car park, but this is Dorset so there is one, and of course it was built by the pub landlord.