Monday 03 March 2014 – Swanage.
After a fairly solid sleep I was up pretty early again, but the view out the window had me back in bed for a while with a cup of coffee and yesterday’s paper. It was raining and there was no way I was heading out early with absolutely no hope of a sunrise. I waited till the dot of 8:00 am and was down in the restaurant for breakfast, this time I asked for a break between my fruit and my eggs on toast. I think I introduced a whole new level of stress to the staff with that request…
I had another big day planned, with a shorter coastal walk as well as a visit to a couple of castles. I love castles, and have done since I was a child when I visited some with my family. If you have followed my blog for a while you will have probably worked out I am a fan of all things old. Coming from New Zealand where anything over a hundred years old is considered historic it is great to be visiting places that are ten times older and more.
My first stop was nearby Corfe Castle, I had driven past it a couple of times and had been really looking forward to visiting it, it was one of the many reasons I chose Swanage as a base.
I parked on the far side of Corfe Castle village and walked through the town, the village is dominated by the castle on the hill. The whole village is built of the same locally mined sandstone as the castle, they love their rock around here!
The sun was shining when I entered the castle and thankfully the wind had dropped significantly from yesterday, so I was in for a nice walk around.
Corfe Castle was developed over a five hundred year period, starting from the early twelfth century. Sadly it was destroyed by an act of parliament during the English civil war in 1646 as one of the final outposts of royalist resistance. What I saw today was pretty much as it was at that time it was blown up.
I love how the walls are sagging over the steep side of the hill, I guess one day they will just roll down to the stream below.
I really enjoyed walking around and exploring the place, but as I started walking up to the top keep the clouds were gathering on the horizon, so I picked up the pace a bit.
And the rain started to fall just as I made the exit gate, a shame for the people arriving as I left, sometimes it pays to be up early!
I stopped for a coffee in one of the small coffee shops and the rain stopped soon after I finished my coffee, and I got to carry on with my day. The clouds over the castle looked amazing from the car park though.
My next stop was Lulworth Cove, not too much of a drive away. The roads here pass through a large military camp which has a live firing range for tanks and cannons and all sorts of things. I sneakily stopped on the side of the road just before the range as I saw some (I think) wild ponies in the light flooding among the trees, I should have grabbed a better lens, but figured outside a military base was not a place to be stopping with a camera…
I parked at Lulworth Cove at walked up the hill and over to Durdle Door. As I started out the weather was lovely compared to yesterday – I was in a t-shirt and unzipped hoodie and worked up a bit of a sweat walking up the coast path , though a shower moved over once I was over the top and the rain jacket was soon on again.
Man O’ War Bay.
Luckily it didn’t last and by the time I was down at Durdle Door the sun was shining again. The seas were looking pretty good here, nice even, though large swells – and no, I was not tempted to swim…
Durdle Door is a large hole in the limestone rock and is a major tourist and photographic attraction. Surprisingly it is part of a private estate owned by the Weld family, who also own Lulworth Castle – plus about fifty square kms of Dorset. At least visiting the site is free, though of course parking isn’t!
The steps down to the beach have been destroyed in a recent land slip, as there were a few people down on the beach I made my way down as well. The way down was incredibly slippery and very muddy and I was lucky to have my trail shoes on as I didn’t fall over – looking at the state of some other people’s trousers, I was a fortunate one. I am really glad I ventured down though.
Once back up the bank I walked down the steps on the other side and visited Man O’ War Bay.
On the way back up to the hill top walk to Lulworth Cove, I spotted the lovely Durdle Door Holiday park, a bit of a blight on the English countryside !
Lulworth Cove is lovely though, as are the numerous cottages in the village. When I visited here two years ago it was absolutely rammed with people, so it was quite pleasant to visit when it was empty – though not much was open for coffee and lunch.
After a very average sandwich, but a spectacular ice cream cone I jumped back in the car and drove over to Lulworth Castle.
The castle was built as a hunting lodge in 1610 and was purchased by the Weld family in 1642 (it is still in the family !) It was the residence of the family up until it was sadly destroyed by fire in 1929. The exterior has been fully renovated, but the interior is just a large shell, but interesting nonetheless. The whole time I was at he castle I could here gunfire in the background, I guess it must be what a fire-fight over the next hill sounds like. Something I have no desire to hear.
Next door is the Chapel of St Mary, built in 1786 once the persecution of Catholics ended in Britain. It is a lovely building and I would have liked to have seen in-side, but it was all closed up.
It was getting to be late in the afternoon and the sky was still looking good so I decided to go o Kimmeridge Bay and see if I could catch the sunset I missed on Saturday. I stopped just outside the town of Wareham and took some photos of the flooding there.
I made it to Kimmeridge reasonably early and took a walk around the beach as the tide was out, it was a good time to play with the camera as the sun slowly set. I took a load of photos.
The storms have created a massive pile of sea weed on the shore.
As the sun was slowly setting I watched the big thick clouds move their way slowly across the sky towards me, and with a sinking feeling I knew that there was going to be no sunset again !! I guess, to be fair, the sun was still going to set, just not in a spectacular display.
I made my way around to the point anyway and met another photographer there who pointed me to “the” spot for sunset photos, he had been there a million times before so was out today photographing the surfers. Surfing in that cold water – madness!
I lurked there for a while and then moved down to the waters edge for a bit, but then the threatened rain started to arrive so started making my way back towards the car.
I got back to the good spot and the rain stopped so I lurked there for a bit and took a bunch of photos of the clouds that were going to block the sunset, and left again as another shower hit. The clouds were damn good though !
Once I made it back up to the car the rain stopped again, so I hung around and watched a very light sunset struggle through the gloom, though the sky did get very colourful and a little liquid at times.
Once dark settled in I packed up and went back to the hotel for dinner and a glass of wine before collapsing into bed nice and early with my book.
It had been a long but very enjoyable day. Great to see so many lovely places and with much relief I really enjoyed taking photos again.