Saturday, 17 October 2015

Jurassic Coast

All of the places visited in this post have either a literary, film, TV or historical interest
The journey to Chesil Beach was via Abbotsbury. Many of the houses in the high street date back to the C16th. In the C11th King Canute (Cnut) granted land at nearby Portesham to the Scandinavian Thegn Orc who took up residence in the area with his wife Tola where they founded Abbotsbury Abbey.
Taking a country lane to the beach beyond Abbotsbury we were surprised to find it edged with Pampas grasses 
This is not a plant normally associated with the English countryside. I wondered if they had been purposefully planted along the lane or whether they were escapees from nearby Abbotsbury Subtropical Gardens?
The beach is also known as Chesil Bank - as can be seen here it is necessary to climb up and then walk down
before catching a first glimpse of the English Channel crashing ashore
The stones are tiny - no bigger than they look here on the screen
It's a pebble picker's paradise, but don't do it, this is a site of special scientific interest, and the maxium penalty for removing pebbles is £2,000. This 6000 year old bank formed in the Helocene period is a very important defence against flooding.
Chesil Beach is 18 miles (29km) long, a wonderous bank of one hundred million tons of Cretaceous and Jurassic stones separating the English Channel from the 'Fleet' which I showed in the previous post.
 The literary connection here is
'On Chesil Beach' by Ian McEwan
Next stop West Bay, Bridport Harbour
All of those fans of the TV series 'Broadchurch' will recognise this
Charmouth, whose cliffs and beach are a noted source of fossils. Even though we visited quite early in the morning, on a cloudy out of season day, there were plenty of visitors who had arrived before us. Fossil-hunters were out in force, Mums, Dads, children, old and young carrying little hammers and chisels, all hopeful of spotting something rare, which is a possibility - curiously there is no ban on hammering for fossils
Less than two years ago a complete Ichthyosaur fossil was found at Charmouth.
Charmouth and the next bay Lyme Regis have an historical interest in that they are where Mary Anning (1799-1847)  became known around the world for her important fossil discoveries. Her findings were key to the development of paleontology as a scientific discipline in Britain. Her finds were cleaned and polished and she sold them in her little shop. The following tongue-twister is said to have been inspired by her life and work.
She sells sea-shells on the sea-shore.
The shells she sells are sea-shells, I'm sure.
For if she shells sea-shells on the sea-shore
Then I'm sure she shells sea-shore shells

Last stop Lyme Regis
where this Ammonite is to be found embedded into the wall of a house - I need my eldest son, a Geologist, to tell me its correct name! This image is slightly smaller than the actual Ammonite 
Fossil inspired street lighting
The tides out - the boats are stranded
It was in Lyme Regis that John Fowles based his story of The French Lieutenant's Women, and where the book was filmed in 1981. During filming a flock of sheep roamed along Broad Street with the farmer and his dog, and the buildings were shrouded in greys and browns as the town was transformed into the Lyme Regis of 1867. Rubber cobblestones were laid over road markings, and the bus shelters were hidden by thatch. At The Cobb, a defensive sea wall, fake C19th boats were anchored alongside.  
One of the climbs up onto the Cobb is via those tricky little steps just visible on the left. There is no hand rail, they are narrow, and I was surprised to be confronted on the top by such a deep slope. It is an unnerving sensation walking along it, which now makes me feel full of admiration for Jeremy Irons who ran along it in the film with sea spray lashing all over him.
But, who can forget the drama of that scene when Meryl Streep, wearing her billowing black cloak, and Jeremy Irons have their first encounter on The Cobb?
You can view the moment their eyes meet here, but in case it doesn't work try 
this

66 comments:

  1. It all looks so beautiful, even when the weather wasn't at its best. I'd really like to go fossil hunting at Charmouth. It's amazing that everyone and anyone is allowed to do it.

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    1. I would imagine that your children would love to fossil hunt - there is The Charmouth Heritage Coast Centre which has lots of displays that help you discover how to find your very own fossils to take home, and they also run guided fossil walks throughout the year

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  2. Gorgeous pictures. Never seen a lane edged with Pampasgrass, so unusual, but nice on the photo. I've seen the film The French Lieutenant's Women and even visited Lyme Regis. West Bay we were there a long time ago. Thank you for showing us these places with sweet memories for us.

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    1. I wish that they would show The French Lieutenant's Women film on TV sometime, I would love to see it again.
      You have been to and visited lots of places in this country Janneke.

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  3. Man, that is a mean lean on that sea wall. I hope Jeremy Irons was wearing rubber soles.

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    1. I certainly had rubber soles on my shoes, and wondered the same thing about Jeremy Irons. I did noticed that he appears to have a little slip as he runs.

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  4. Oh and ah .. so beautiful photos from wonderful place. I like your perspective in the beach photos. And the boat on dry land is fantastic - maybe not so nice to the fishermen.

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    1. By the time we had walked back from the sea wall the sea was entering the harbour and the boats began floating again - it all happens very quickly.

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  5. Such a beautiful run of coastline, and one we have visited many times, except Abbotsbury Gardens, which we must get to one day.

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    1. We were only there for one night so had no time to visit Abbotsbury Gardens either.

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  6. Hello Rosemary, I was please to learn more about this interesting landscape. Your shots down the pebble beach are quite striking. I am all for conservation and protection measures, but I'll bet that the problem was not individual pebble hunters, but rather those gathering in commercial quantities for landscaping, concrete, or whatever.
    --Jim

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    1. Hello Jim - I am sure that you are right, and that is why the fine is set so high.

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  7. That would be a day not to go on the Cobb!

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    1. It's not exactly a piece of cake walking on it in dry weather!

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  8. I remember that film well. He just missed a good wave didn't he?!

    I miss Dorset - we left there back in 1988 but I still remember it so clearly, and of course we have been back since, to stay with friends. I would still like to move back there but house prices have shot up in the years since we have left. Our money wouldn't go far there.

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful photographs.

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    1. That is a difficulty if you move from an expensive area to a cheaper one as the differential has now grown so large.

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  9. Beautiful pictures of a beautiful area, Charmouth is lovely, Lyme Regis is my number one destination, one of my favourite holiday places.

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    1. I am glad that you enjoyed seeing an area that you love.

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  10. One of our favorite parts of England, fossil hunting is always in season. I remember it being hard to walk on
    Chisel Beach. Great photos.

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  11. Dear Rosemary,

    Such beautiful photos you have shared with the wonderful coastline and the quaint cottages and houses. The pink homes are pretty.
    Hope you are enjoying the weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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    1. Dear Carolyn - pink cottages with bright turquoise doors - you would imagine those colours together would be too much, but in this situation they look right. Thank you for your visit and kind comment.

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  12. Thank you, I have four framed postcards of watercolours of Lyme Regis on the bedroom wall. a reminder of our visit.

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    1. I am pleased that this reminded you of your own visit there Susan.

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  13. Another wonderful collection of photographs; the pink house and the cliffs simply took my breath away.

    Ms Soup

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    1. Thank you - it was a bit cloudy but the pink still managed to shine out

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  14. Another fascinating look at this incredible part of the coast so full of history and visual delights.

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    1. We went on one of those Amazon Local Deals, they are excellent value and you get to see bits of the country that you might not otherwise have visited.

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  15. Ooh, that was exciting! I have not seen that scene since the movie first came out. Meryl Streep at her finest, and Jeremy Irons certainly was sure-footed. The Jurassic Coast is a part of England I know nothing about, and enjoyed your photos very much. The pebble beach is amazing, and it seems incredible that people are free to collect fossils in this way. The fossil inspired street lighting is so decorative and clever.

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    1. There is no hammering allowed on the cliffs or bedrock, but collecting from the foreshore especially at low tide is allowed. Most are found in flatstones which you have to split, if you hit the stones from the top then you could damage the fossil inside.
      I would love to see that movie again.

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  16. This is a fascinating part of the country Rosemary. I was taken there, on a school residential trip, when I was 11, and still hold very fond memories of it. I remember walking out on the cobb, years before Meryl Streep did it . Even at 11, it seemed a magical place.

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    1. If it wasn't for the Cob I suspect that Lyme Regis would not exist as it does - it would probably have been washed away by powerful seas along the front.

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  17. You certainly did a good walking along that slope. I watched the clip.
    Never seen so many pebbles near the sea, for me it's fascinating.

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    1. The walk is quite difficult even when it is dry - poor Jeremy Irons running along it with that heavy sea spray falling around him.

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  18. Amazing how these tides move. Impressive.

    Greetings,
    Filip

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    1. I was surprised when I first started travelling to discover that many countries have tides which are hardly discernible having been used to seeing big tides here.

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  19. What a beautiful and interesting place. I love fossil hunting too, but actually it is quite incredible that anyone can just hammer along to find them .

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    1. No hammering is allowed on the cliff or the seabed only the foreshore which is best when the tide is out.

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  20. what a lovely post, great photos and interesting place. xxx

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    1. Pleased that you found it interesting Lyn

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  21. Lyme is one of my two most favourite places in the world! I have never seen that ammonite in the wall though, must look for that next time I visit! xx

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    1. It's on the front where the fossil lighting is - a castellated house next door to a deep pink thatched house.
      What is your other favourite place?

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  22. Fascinating post. Stunning photos P x

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    1. Lovely to hear from you Patricia and hope all is well with you

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  23. Dear Rosemary
    When I see those pampas grasses along the lane to the beach, I’d feel nostalgia for Japan. They look a little different from Japanese Pampas Grass, but their silver swaying is one of the typical Japanese autumn scenes in the countryside or even along the roadside in the urban area. Chesil beach is fascinating and I like the ammonites on the street lighting. Perhaps thanks to the cloudy weather, you created soft and subtle ambience in your photos.

    Yoko

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    1. Dear Yoko - Pampas Grass grows very easily here, but it is not one of our indigenous plants. I have a lovely one growing in the garden that has pretty pink plumes.

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  24. Wow, those pebbles on the beach are impressive, so different than the sandy beaches of most places.
    Also, I did enjoy Broad Church, my husband and I watched it together.

    Best wishes to you Rosemary: )

    XXOO
    Marica

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    1. Dear Marcia - I didn't realise that Broadchurch had been shown in the States - did you recognise the image? Around our coast we have a mixture of sandy bays, pebbly or rocky bays.

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  25. Your images of my area are stunning and as always I learnt something new from you. I didn't realise that tongue twister was based on Mary Anning and I haven't been along Smugglers Way either! Sarah x.

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    1. I haven't been along Smugglers Way either Sarah, just the cameras zoom lens travelled down it.
      Glad you enjoyed the images of your area.

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  26. You and your husband made a lovely journey Rosemary. The English coastline is so pretty. Hope to visit Lyme Regis one day, if only to see 'the cob' for myself :-)

    Have a good week!

    Madelief x

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    1. I think that you would probably enjoy a trip down there Madelief

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  27. Wonderful, as your blog always is. Such a frightening noise as those waves crashed across the cob.

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    1. I don't know how Jeremy Irons managed to keep upright, it is bad enough when it is calm and dry.

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  28. Very nice and interesting to the beach. He's got secrets. How beautiful are the lanterns with snails and very nice homes. Regards.

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    1. The houses all along the sea front are very colourful and quaint Giga

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  29. We visited these same places earlier in the year so it is nice to see them again through your camera lens. Lovely photos, I especially like the pink house with the dramatic cliff edge of West Bay. Did you visit the gallery while you were there?
    Even on the calmest of days I find it very un-nerving to walk on the higher level of the Cobb! The other literary connection with the Cobb is Jane Austen's 'Persuasion.'

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    1. Sadly we did not have enough time, only there for one night and day. You are right of course about Jane Austen's Persuasion - I think that they actually do Jane Austen walking tours around Lyme Regis especially taking in the Cobb of course.

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  30. Lovely photos. I was on Chesil Beach a few months ago. I also recognised the Abbotsbury street immediately without reading the words - (quite impressed with myself about that) I simply love the fossil street lamps. What a wonderful touch. Thanks for this nice little tour - and it's made me decide to go to Lyme next time I am in Dorset.

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  31. Lovely photos. I was on Chesil Beach a few months ago. I also recognised the Abbotsbury street immediately without reading the words - (quite impressed with myself about that) I simply love the fossil street lamps. What a wonderful touch. Thanks for this nice little tour - and it's made me decide to go to Lyme next time I am in Dorset.

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