Beautiful but deadly!

My brain, it is dead. That’s what seven hours of travelling will do to a person. So to fill in the time between now and when it starts working again (I suspect tomorrow, or hopefully by Friday because I have a job interview!) I will do another photo post. I know, another one! This is a very specific one – I went on a long walk over the hills between Corfe Castle and Swanage with Jonathan on Monday, and the scenery was too beautiful not to share. I also took lots of dog photos but they can wait, there’s a limit to how many photographs I can squish into one post ๐Ÿ˜‰

So, to the non-UKers I come across sometimes who seem to believe that England is full of tiny villages populated by elderly ladies with posh accents who do nothing but eat scones and sip Earl Grey, you may well squeal at this. This is a photo of the village of Corfe Castle:

Yes, I have just reinforced a thousand irritating stereotypes. But it is pretty ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here’s a better view of the ruined castle – after Jonathan and I had reached the top of the hill:

History lesson: the oldest parts of the castle date to the 11th century, it turns up in the Doomsday book, King John used to keep his most important prisoners there, it is thought to be the inspiration for Enid Blyton’s castle at Kirrin Island and features prominently in Barbara Erskine’s “Lady of Hay”, my mum told me that someone important was murdered there when the assassin in question climbed up the toilet and stabbed him with a spear, and it was eventually destroyed in 1646 during the English Civil War. It was taken by the Parliamentariansย and then ruined with explosives so the Royalists couldn’t gain it back. Bit of a colourful history, then ๐Ÿ˜‰

And here it is from much further away – I got the whole village in this one.

To the other side of the hill you can see Poole harbour. It was a hazy day, but you can just make out Brownsea Island and Sandbanks, which has the fourth highest land value in the world and is populated by footballers, as well as being the location of the local psychiatric hospital in which I spent three months of 2007. The locals are not terribly impressed by this, but the clever bloke who left it to the NHS in his will specifically stated that it had to remain a hospital, so they can’t sell it and knock it down. Mwahahaaa.

Further along the hill is an area known as Nine Barrow Down, creatively named due to the fact that there are nine barrows on it (*edit* I have been informed that there are actually over 30, which makes the name a bit weird really. But that fits in with the general air of Dorset eccentricity pretty well!). Here are a few of them:

Barrows are ancient burials, usually dating from the Neolithic or Bronze Age. Although you’d have to ask my mum if you wanted more information than that, because she’s the one doing the archaeology degree.

This tree tells me what I already knew – it’s bloody windy up there! It was permanently growing in that windswept position.

These little guys were everywhere – it was a job not to step on them.

They are called Chalkhill Blues, which makes it unsurprising to discover that the Purbeck hills are chalk ๐Ÿ˜› it makes for very hard water in Purbeck. No wonder I got kidney stones a couple of years ago. Shush, it was nothing to do with chronic dehydration (looks sneaky)

Here’s a close up – a bit blurry, but their little faces are so cute!

And a less blurry, more sensible photo:

Okay, enough butterflies. Jonathan and I followed the path up and down the first hill (about 3 miles, which feels much further when you are going up and down all the time) to be greeted by this sight:

Another 4 hilly miles to the coast at this point :/ and it was SUCH a hot day – I should have brought twice as much water as I did. I did have my mum’s second favourite digging hat to keep the sun off my head and make me look like an idiot though. It suits her – she’s an archaeologist, of course sun hats suit her – but not me. I just look like a 26 year old pretending to be a middle aged tourist. Anyhoo…

A mile and a half later we could finally see Swanage! This is my home town – I was born here and stayed until I was 17, when my family moved ten miles inland.

Here it is from two miles closer – we were STILL a mile and a half from Old Harry Rocks by now, but had to call it a day because we were about to collapse from dehydration/too much sun. Ugh. Never mind, next time!

We started descending the cliff path and eventually came out in between the first two groynes that you can just make out in the photo above. Here are the cliffs once we had dropped down a bit:

…and from the beach:

And here is the doctored version:

Yes. Yes I was.

We walked along the beach into Swanage, where Jonathan found some chips from a fish and chip shop, and I legged it to the local health shop to see how much dairy free chocolate I could lay my hands on. Four chocolate chip cookies, a bar of honeycomb chocolate and a bottle of water later I felt much better, and off we went to catch the bus home, where I discovered that I had avoided sunburn (thanks to mum’s hat!) but that Jonathan looked like a panda-eyed beetroot (thanks to his insistence that he “doesn’t burn”).

The walk was only seven or eight miles – I can cover that on a flattish or moderately hilly surface fairly easily – but those hills did me in for the rest of the evening! We pretty much just died in front of the TV until it was an acceptable time to sleep ๐Ÿ˜› it was definitely worth the pain though – it’s such a beautiful walk, and the weather was perfect.

Recap of the rest of my trip coming up just as soon as I recover from all the travelling I’ve done today!


10 responses to “Beautiful but deadly!

  1. *pedantry alert*

    Aaaaaactually Nine Barrow Down has over 30 barrows. But I’m rather a crap pedant because I can’t remember how many exactly ;-). Totally with you on the beautiful views from up there on a clear day though :-). Glad you had such gorgeous weather, x x x

  2. This post is LOVELY. Your pictures are beautiful and I enjoyed your accompanying dialogue ๐Ÿ™‚ I find ruined castles really eerie, I won’t go near them, I feel like their past is still lingering :S The weather seems amazing, no wonder Jonathan ended up looking like a Panda. Hope you feel better from all the travelling soon and good luck with the interview!x

  3. I think this is one of your best posts EVER ๐Ÿ™‚ I love all of the photos; I almost felt I was experiencing your walk vicariously! Despite being British I have never visited Dorset. It’s very pretty ๐Ÿ™‚ Glad you and Jonathan had a great time!

  4. Beautiful! I really want to go to Corfe Castle now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. That looks a gorgeous walk, and wonderful photos! I agree that Corfe is really pretty (almost too pretty)- I think that the whole area (including the Jurassic coast) is absolutely packed with quaint villages and little thatched cottages etc. (not to mention tearooms). It almost looks fake after a while. No wonder tourists get those ideas about Britain!

  6. Butterflies!!!!!!

    I want to go to Dorset now.
    So funny, I am reading a book and the character just mentioned it. Now I have a visual.

  7. Pingback: Not so unemployable after all! | Giant Fossilized Armadillo

  8. Haha unfortunately I do nothing to break the stereotype. I live in a tiny village surrounded by lots of other villages! Beautiful pictures though, thank you

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