Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Feeling poorly in Purbeck

Oh dear, I thought I felt the flu coming on last night, and this morning it really hit me. I could hardly make it through breakfast without coughing and sneezing, and I was running a fever. This on the very day that I was planning a long walk along the south Purbeck coast. I really didn’t feel much like doing anything but staying in bed, but the ‘rules’ of the B&B were that rooms had to be vacated between 10 am and 3 pm for cleaning – so I decided to head over to Lulworth Cove and rest there. I was feeling so weak that I couldn’t do much more than sit on the grass on the side of the hill for most of the day. I found a nice spot behind some artists who were painting landscapes of the cove. At least I had a good view whilst I sat there going through a box of tissues.


After a few hours I realised I was getting sunburnt. I thought it crazy that living in the tropics, the only place I get sunburnt this year was in England! But there was no shade around anywhere, so I retired to one of the cafés in the village for an hour and had a café latte (which surprisingly was very good – much better than the coffee you expect to find in these touristy places).

There were a lot of school kids on geography field excursions in the village – it reminded me of the days that I used to come here on school trips.


Back in my schooldays this part of the so-called Jurassic Coast wasn’t so ‘famous’, but since it was awarded World Heritage status by UNESCO in 2001, it’s become a lot more well known. The Jurassic Coast stretches from Old Harry Rocks north of Swanage Bay, where the rocks are 65 million years old, west to Orcombe Point in East Devon, where the rocks are 250 million years old. I’d love to be able to walk the whole 95 mile length of the Jurassic Coast one day, but I don’t know whether I will ever have time.


There was a bit of excitement after lunch when an ambulance raced into the village with sirens blaring. It drove up to the back of the car park where a rescue helicopter landed shortly after. The ambulance personnel then transferred a patient to the helicopter and it took off again in a cloud of dust. I don’t know whether it was a road accident victim or someone injured climbing on the cliffs, but it all happened very quickly and very efficiently.


By mid-afternoon I was not feeling any better, but decided I needed to at least walk to Durdle Door before going back to the B&B. There was a 1-2 kilometre path along the top of the cliffs from Lulworth Cove, which normally would have been quite an easy walk (you can see the path in the picture above behind the helicopter), but I was coughing so much whenever I started walking, I thought it better to drive to a caravan park near Durdle Door and then walk from there (that was less than half a kilometre).

Durdle Door – a natural rock arch - is known as the most photographed place in Dorset, so the challenge was to find a POV that was not identical to everyone else’s. I spotted some wild flowers near the top of the cliff overlooking Durdle Door, so I thought I could frame a shot with those in the foreground and create a slightly different composition. However, when I got to the flowers I discovered that they had been placed there in bottles – I guess to commemorate someone who had fallen off the cliff there. Anyhow, they still added some colour to the foreground so I took some shots – taking care not to go too close to the edge of the cliff (it was a sheer drop two metres in front of where I was standing).


As it was a bit cooler now, it was very pleasant sitting up on top of the cliffs overlooking Durdle Door. A group of school kids came by and sat not far from me whilst their teacher gave them a lecture of the geology of the area – and how coastal arches eventually turn into stacks. The cliffs of the Jurassic Coast expose about 185 million years of geological formations, so that why it is so popular with geology and geomorphology teachers.


The scenery along this part of the coast is really quite magnificent, so even though I wasn’t feeling well, I was able to get a few very nice landscape photos:


Although I wasn’t feeling well from the flu, I guess the soldiers in the picture below weren’t feeling that great either because they were running up and down the hills with what looked like 50 kgs on their backs (I wondered whether it was part of their training or whether they were being punished for something).


I returned to the caravan park up on top of the cliffs and had an apple cider before heading back to the B&B. It had not been a pleasant day with all my coughing and sneezing (at least I was not bothering anyone being outdoors) but the beautiful scenery of the Jurassic Coast had made it a little more bearable.

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