Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Weymouth & Portland

The plan had been to spend the night in Dorchester after leaving Bournemouth on the Sunday afternoon. However the place looked a real dive so we carried on into Weymouth, a good decision as it turned out. Having never been to Weymouth before I was unsure what to expect but was really pleasantly surprised. The drive in provides lovely views of the crescent shaped beach and the Georgian esplanade. There is a lovely harbour with plenty of pubs and eating places which were very reasonable too! The picture above shows the view from our hotel window which wasn't a bad one at all. Even better were the clear skies as I was planning a good walk today while Marina was at work. After a hearty breakfast my walk started at 'The Rodwell Trail'. The trail follows the track bed of the old Weymouth to Portland Railway for two and a quarter miles between Abbotsbury Road, Weymouth at Westham Halt to just beyond Wyke Regis Halt at Ferry Bridge. The line closed to Passengers on 2nd March 1952 and finally closed to Freight traffic on 5th April 1965. The trail is a very pleasant walk with some interesting wild flowers to be seen. I particularly liked the flower of the wild chicory pictured below with it's beautiful blue petals. There are no less than four old Railway Stations and Halts all of which have the British Railways Totem name signs proudly displayed on the platforms. The end of the trail took me to the second part of the walk; Chesil Beach in all it's majesty. Chesil from the old English ceosel or cisel, meaning "gravel" or "shingle". The shingle beach is some 18 miles long 200 metres (660 ft) wide and 15 metres (50 ft) high and forms part of what is called 'The Jurassic Coast'. Although today I was just walking the mile and a half to Portland. I say just! It was incredibly hard walking with the wind and spray from the waves and the shingle giving way underfoot with each step. In fact it really knackered my knees which are still recovering at the time of writing. It was like walking in the desert with the end point always just out of reach. The Jurassic coast stretches over a distance of 155 kilometres (96 miles), from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in the West to the Old Harry Rocks on the Isle of Purbeck in the East. It was with some relief that I arrived at Chesil Cove a haven for scuba divers because of the shallow waters. Tempting as it was to stumble into a local tavern for a well earned pint I did carry on. I would really have liked to have seen Portland Bill , whoever he is? I saw a sign directing me to the West Weares coastal footpath and it was too tempting to resist. It was one steep climb to the cliff top but the views looking back at the beach were stunning! The West Weares are littered with the debris of old quarries which were used for centuries for the supply of Portland stone. Unforunately the coastal path was closed due to a landfall earlier in the year which I was quietly pleased with as Portland Bill was still another 3 miles away. Additionally there was some wonderful insect life to be seen including, several Burnett Six Spot Moth (above, a Chalkhill Blue and a Marbled White Butterfly. After my descent back down to sea level it was time for that well earned pint, a pint of Dorset Brewing Co's Jurassic Ale, how very appropriate. There was just time to pop back to Weymouth for a spot of lunch before journeying back home. Really enjoyed it down in Weymouth and will certainly be back again before too long.

Bournemouth & Boscombe

Time to get away again and enjoy the heatwave currently anchored over the UK. Probably the equivalent of doing a rain dance we shall see? I'm very familiar with Bournemouth from childhood family holidays spent building sandcastles and running wild at Alum Chine where the sun never stopped shining or so it seemed back in the day. It was nostalgic to walk along the promenade again and nothing seemed to have changed from those halycon days except it had. It took me a while to realise just what it was as everything seemed in place. It was certainly much more multicultural than I remembered literally all nations were there in huge beach gatherings enjoying things in their own different ways. But it was me that had changed and try as I might even at my most wistful those feelings I once had back in the day were a million miles a way. Despite being blocked in the car park, kept awake by the wedding disco , breaking my tooth on a peanut and some pratt banging on the door at 6AM it was a nice hotel. Then again it should have been at the price per night ! The gardens were well maintained and lovely sea views. Sunday morning and another stroll along the promenade only this time in the opposite direction to Boscombe. I've always liked the idea of having your own private hut close to the beach to make a brew or get changed with a degree of privacy away from the masses. So imagine my delight to see the colour coded versions on the seafront , it was as though some had run through the Dulux paint charts , maybe they had? Have to say I enjoyed walking this way much better than yesterday and seemed a lot more going on. Lots of Kite Surfers which looked good fun and some novice surfers putting their nearly learned skills to the test. Walked out onto Boscombe Pier which gave some great views of the headland and beach. Got a decent photo of this particular kite surfer that I was pleased with. Thank you Bournemouth and Boscombe ! Next stop Weymouth.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Purple Emperor Butterfly

The recent heatwave has been ideal for Butterfly spotting and I was hopeful of spotting the Purple Emperor which has eluded me for the last few years. It isn't the rarest of our native butterflies but certainly the most sought after and maybe hardest to find. I set off to Fermyn Woods near Corby part of the ancient Rockingham Forest one of the few locations they colonise. I was lucky to get a couple of initial sightings as it was early evening when they are known to abandon the treetops in search of food. Another good time is early morning and after that forget it pretty much. Unfortunately they seemed happy to stay high up and not wanting to settle near the ground. It is not uncommon for them to land on a bare arm as they search for salts! They love all sorts of horse manure , dog muck anything with salts in really. I did manage to get some good views as one landed on the path and then another in a bush. They are quite easy to follow although they move quickly.In fact they reminded me of bats in flight. There was some irony that after a couple of hours searching the woods returning to the car there was one perched on the bonnet! I think there must have been some bird dropping remains that it was enjoying.