Our journey east takes us via the Jurassic Coast which stretches approximately 150 km along England’s southern shoreline.
Listed as a World Heritage site in 2001, it spans 185 million years of geological history across three key formation periods: Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Helpfully, fossilised remains have been found from each period and these, along with continuous rock erosion, have done much to unlock the secrets of time. Erosion also makes the area prone to landslides – there are warning signs everywhere.
Our stopping point is Spyway, for what I thought would be a quick zip out to the headland, followed by a visit to another manor home/garden nearby. Chris it seems has other plans.
The walk out to the Spyway headland is at least a couple of kilometres, much of it rerouted down an extraordinary steep hill – a landslide has taken out the usual path. We then follow the coastal path across the cliff tops then inland to Worth Matravers, up hill and down dale. Very steep hills! Lovely, but not quite the relaxing day I had in mind!
The walk is pretty though, and despite it being incredibly dry, we are rewarded with quite of few sightings of special things including nesting swifts, tiny colourful butterflies, native orchids and a tiny songbird that Chris charms out of a tree.
There are also blackberry bushes galore and whilst many of them are in the early stages of fruiting, others are ripe for the picking.
We pass fields of cows and sheep, latter of which laze under any spot of shade they can find. I don’t blame them – I’m hot and I’m not even wearing wool.
The coast is glorious with carved out coves and inlets. There are many groups of brave souls abseiling down the cliff faces – it’s quite the sport here and we read that this setting is mentioned in one of the Bond books. I’ll settle for a stroll thanks. Not quite up to jumping off cliffs or chasing villains today. Butterflies, yes, villains and hurtling down cliffs, not so much.
Our arrival in Worth Matravers sees us at the local pub, which is doing a roaring trade in home made pasties. There’s an added feature – free range chickens and children interacting happily in the garden. Except for one toddler, who keeps safely to the tabletops. I don’t blame her – this rooster was almost as tall as she was.
The others are having a great time coaxing the birds into eating from their hands and making up names for them.
Well rested and pastied later, we head back. A more sedate path inland this time, called “The Priest’s Way”. Helpful badges of Friars show the way from one gate post to the next.
The way home offers views into to farming life, late summer harvests, beautiful stone fencing, wind weathered stunted trees and best of all… dinosaur footprints!
Marked just off the track is evidence of dinosaurs roaming the Jurassic Coast, unearthed during quarrying. Their footprints are so large you can stand in them comfortably. These enormous vegetarians were more 26 metres in length. Oh my!
Lots of blackberrys later, we make it safely back to the motorhome. I’m not sure what I do without Chris’ inate sense of direction. Probably still be wandering in the wilderness somewhere, I suspect!
On the way home, I see a squirrel performing a high wire act, using the electrical wires with the greatest of ease to cross a main street. Clever boy.