Sunday, 22 May 2011

At Durlston Country Park -A Clifftop Walk near Swanage - Part 2

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..........


Sea Columbine........



....Wild Mallow......


....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.


The path began to wind uphill again, into the low wood.

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.


A glimpse of the Victorian "Castle" being renovated on the cliff.

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.

More information about the wildlife and geology of this area of the Jurassic Coast can be found at
www.durlston.co.uk

I followed the links to find a wonderful sequence of wild flower photographs, including the orchids that grow on Durlston`s clifftop meadows.

Comments
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6 comments:

Bovey Belle said...

This is "home" for me, and how I yearn to walk these clifftops again. Oh, Tilly Whim caves and Dancing Ledges and Winspit and . . .

SARINA said...

Beautyful pictures that brought back memories of lovely holidays gone by.
The Isle of Purbeck was our favourite holiday place when the kids were small. Endles bike rides where our pleasure, plus walks in the countryside.

SARINA said...

I remember lovely holidays on the Isle of Purbeck, when my the kids were small. Your pictures captured all the places we used to visit.

WOL said...

Blogger does seem to be acting up a lot. I hope this is a rare instance.

You have such lovely scenic walks.

ChrisJ said...

Gorgeous photos. Thought I was back at Flamborough -- but that's at the other end of this limestone ridge.

Kath said...

Very atmospheric photos. I particularly liked the gates to the tunnel, very intriguing and mysterious.