Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Dorset Day 2 - Kimmeridge Bay & Durdle Door

After leaving the golden view at Corfe Castle, I was soon parked up above the windswept shores at Kimmeridge Bay. The clouds by now had started to gather, like a gang of wayward youths on the lookout for mischief, but there were still a few rays of light making their way through the growing mob, sparkling off the rippling ocean below and highlighting sections of the rocky shore.

I was certainly pleased to see a bit of sunlight still around, but I was over the moon to see that the tide was out. At high tide Kimmeridge is, despite its rich geological pedigree, a bit dull, but at low tide things liven up considerably.

With the tide is out, the Kimmeridge ledges are exposed, these long fingers of limestone rock, which were formed many millions of years ago, when the Jurassic sea was a lot deeper than it is now, stretch out into the sea and provide a nice bit of interest to any photo. They also contain a fair number of fossils, signifying the explosion of life that the Jurassic period unleashed, which is never a bad thing.

I spent a good few hours roaming the bay, on the hunt for suitable images, and making the most of the expansive coastline before it was swallowed up by the ocean, which was in the process of making its return journey. The cliffs at Kimmeridge are mightily unstable, and are disintegrating constantly, even over the churning rush of the sea, I could hear an almost constant trickle of small rocks and pebbles, as they tumbled to the shingles below, so needless to say I kept my wanderings close to the shoreline.

Following are a few shots of the ledges and flats that are hidden when the tide is in. That structure on the headland is Clavell Tower, it is a Grade II listed Tuscan style tower built in 1830 by Reverend John Richards Clavell as an observatory and folly. The tower was moved 25 metres inland in 2008 as it was in very real danger of toppling into the sea due to coastal erosion. It is now a holiday home, one with quite a view.

As I made my way along the rock strewn coast I diverted my path across some smaller slippery stones, to let a woman and a couple of kids pass by on the easier track, and as I did so, I managed, unsurprisingly, to slip over just as we passed each other, I guess given my track record it was almost inevitable. Now, I wasn’t expecting to receive first aid or anything, but you would have thought a simple enquiry on my well-being, or even a sympathetic smile at my obvious buffoonery would have been the order of the day. But this woman looked at me like I’d done it on purpose just to annoy her. I’d go so far to say she had the look of someone who had a deep and lasting dislike of me.

Just to be clear, I didn’t fall onto one of her children, I hear parents can get a bit worked up if that happens, I simply fell over. After gathering myself together I remarked loudly that ‘I was fine thanks’ and she didn’t even bother to look at me, she just kept walking, I imagine with dark thoughts on my future wellbeing. Some people are a bit odd.

This little waterfall is found at the far western edge of the bay.

The ocean and I have a long, turbulent history, a history which mostly involves me getting thoroughly soaked in the footwear department when I least expect it. And as previously mentioned, I had been keeping a close proximity to the sea in my exploration of Kimmeridge. But as I was wearing my wellingtons, I had arrived prepared. I should have known better of course. 

While stood out on one of the ledges a particularly robust wave crashed against the rock and, bypassing my footwear entirely, proceeded to soak me from the waist down with a startling degree of thoroughness. I knew then, as far as the ocean goes, I was a marked man, and I would just have to live with that.

A view of Kimmeridge village in the early afternoon sunlight. You can see Clavell Tower in the distance on 
the left hand side of the frame.

By now it was lunch time, so I headed back to the apartment, had a bite to eat and promptly fell asleep on the sofa. I woke up a couple of hours later to some of the dullest weather around, which was ok, it meant I hadn’t missed much. But dull weather or not, it was time to head over to Durdle Door, whatever the weather, Durdle Door is never dull.

Maybe because of the overcast conditions, the water in the wave-fringed semi-circle of Man O’ War Bay, was looking so blue it was almost luminous. If it wasn’t situated right next to Durdle Door, I’m sure the bay would be more of an attraction in its own right. Most people just give it a glance before heading down to the Big Door on the other side of the headland.

Man O' War Bay looking rather resplendent.

So after getting a quick snap, I immediately dismissed it from my mind and took the pathway down to East Beach to get some Durdle-centric shots. There was a hell of a lot of cloud about which meant a colourful sunset looked to be off the table, so I just concentrated on getting some movement in the powerful waves that were crashing relentlessly into the pebble beach, creating a cacophony that was quite something to behold.

A few shots of Durdle Door and the hectic ocean on that overcast evening.

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