As we walked further on, we saw dark inlets into the cliff face. The Tilly Whim Caves. Deep, man-made caves where Purbeck limestone was quarried and then transported by boat to London and many other ports. Purbeck limestone is one of the major building materials of many of Britain`s finest public buildings, including Westminster Abbey and the great cathedrals of South and South West England.
Here is the entrance to the Durlston limestone quarry.......
...where an overgrown pathway leads down to locked gates and a dark tunnel. The caves are no longer safe for visitors. This would have been the entrance to a hard day`s work for the quarrymen of nineteenth century Durlston.
Teasels on the cliff edge..........
....and a view of the low ledges where Guillimot nest and wait to fly into the waves in search of fish.
Salad Burnet growing beside the path..........
...which twisted round to a sheltered spot among the undergrowth....
....where a Dolphin Watch shelter has been built. Bottle Nosed Dolphins are an almost daily sight, leaping the waves off the Durlston cliffs. We saw no dolphins on our walk, but on a previous visit we were thrilled to watch a pair of dolphins breaking through the waves on a summer evening.
From the shelter, the vast blue expanse of misty Channel was broken by the dot of a tiny white yacht in the distance, on the top left of this photo, making its way across choppy waves towards the shelter of Poole Harbour.
The low woodland undergrowth of stunted trees, dense shrubs and wild flowers covers cliff slopes and provides shelter. A rich habitat for resident songbirds and for migrant birds, a welcome place to rest and feed.
Black Backed Gulls waited on the cliff ledges....
...before taking to the rising air.
The sculpted Globe,
....where many a visiting walker will have pointed to the spot and said "We are here!".
In order to deter graffiti on the Globe or its accompanying panels of geographical information and stanzas of poetry, two slabs of stone invited visitors to write their names. This plan seems to have worked well!
The little white yacht, buffeted by waves, made progress across the bay.
We turned a corner, to find this wonderful view. Even in the mist, white clifftop buildings at Bournemouth shone against the eastern horizon. Nearer, the chalk cliffs of Old Harry Rocks stretched into the sea from the slopes of Ballard Down. Behind them, lies the small seaside town of Swanage.
In the foreground, is the outcrop of Peveril Point, the western edge of a bay ........
....where rock strata stripes the cliffs against the green slopes of Ballard Down.
Elegant apartments have views to the west, across the changing Channel seascape. They must have amazing views of storms in rough weather and of glorious sunsets over water, on finer days.
Across the bay, Old Harry and Peveril Point.
The path was flanked by an overgrown limestone wall that hugged the cliff. Tiny, gentian blue flowers of Milkwort studded the tangled grass.
Herb Robert on the wall. One of my favourite wild flowers of woodland and shady places.
Looking eastwards again, our final view across the sea towards Poole Bay. We saw the little white yacht. Almost home now, as it entered gentler waters in the lee of Ballard Down.
I followed the links to find a wonderful sequence of wild flower photographs, including the orchids that grow on Durlston`s clifftop meadows.
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