14 May Monday
Today we traveled to the Purbecks, a hilly and coastal region to the east of Poole.
Because of our hefty dinners, I haven't been having breakfast, although it is my favorite meal. A quick cup of tea in the room, and I was downstairs by meet my colleagues and Shaun Kelly, who had graciously offered to drive us around the Purbecks. It was quickly very clear that Shaun truly enjoys hiking around the Purbecks, so this was a day he was looking forward to as well.
Shaun drove us to Poole Harbour where we would catch the ferry across the entrance of the harbour to reach the Purbecks. The ferry moves by pulling on chains that cross the entrance. It takes about 10 minutes, then we were off to the Purbecks.
Shaun gave us alot of information about the Purbecks, including names of the many different rocks and beaches and paths and a bit of history about the area. I wasn't quick enough to pick up all the specifics--I was just enjoying the scenery. Julie and Tory did a better job of writing down names, so check out their blogs for those.
Our goals were to visit the coast, known as the Jurassic Coast
because of the amount fossils easily found there; to step to the edge of Old Harry Rocks
(a promient rock formation at the edge of Poole Harbour); to see the schoolhouse in Tyneham Village
, sitting exactly (books on desks, etc) as it was when it was evacuated during WWII; the ruins of Corfe Castle
; and to visit some local pubs, particularly the Square and Compass.
Our first disappoint came when we discovered that the entrance to Tyneham Village was closed. The area is still used as a military practice range, so its sometimes closed. We confirmed that later, as we were walking, when we heard the loud booms and rat-a-tat of artillery fire.
So, we pushed on to the coast. After parking, we headed out for our biggest hike for the day. We first made it to Lulworth Cove and Stair Hole, where you could see the stratified rock of the coast. It was quite windy, but I ventured as close to the edge as my phobia would let me.
We climbed down to the coastline of St. Owald's Bay, were we marveled at the chalk cliffs imbedded with strata of flint. The rest of the coast is either limestone or Purbeck stone. Purbeck stone, and the stone from Portland Island just across the way, have been prominently used throughout England, particularly by Christopher Wren in his buildings in London.
We followed the beach along to Dungy Head (we could do this because the tide was low), where we climbed back up the hill to overlook Durdle Door, an outcropping of rock. We climbed down and walked along the beach there. We took another path, used in the past by smuggler's trying to avoid paying taxes at the custom house, up to the top of the cliff. After getting another good look across the water, where we could a frigate and a tanker in the distance.
We walked back to the car, as we were to meet Stuart, one of the BPC faculty who came to Houston. We drove to the Scott Arms, a pub near Corfe Castle. We settled in with our lunch and talked more about BPC, Cy-Fair, and our exchange. I had a mature cheddar cheese sandwich.
On the way out of the pub, I noticed some wood carvings, for sale, along the stones of the fireplace. They were rustic countryside scenes from the past carving by a local Czech artist. I purchased four, as they are the type of original, unique art that I love to collect.
We drove to the parking area to hike to Old Harry Rocks. As we were walking out to the rocks, we walked through an area thick with wild garlic plants, the scent heavy in the air. We finally made it to Old Harry Rocks. According to Roy (my curriculum partner), H. G. Well's ashes were scattered at this point. Another literary find. I'm already mapping out my study abroad course for next summer.
We walked back to the car and drove to Corfe Castle. We decided that the entrance fee for Corfe Castle wasn't worth the trip, so we looked at it from a distance. It was destroyed during the English Civil War in 1646. We also found, in the square of the Village of Corfe, a plaque relaying the story of St. Edward, murdered by his stepmother in AD 978.
We drove to the Village of Worth Matravers to stop by the Square and Compass pub. Unfortunately, our second disappointment of the day was that the pub was closed for the break between lunch and dinner. Shaun told us that is a quaint pub even to the English, and was disappointed we couldn't see inside. He offered to drive us out again to see the pub and Tyneham school.
We said goodbye to Stuart and headed for the ferry. Across the harbour and back to the hotel. We thanked Shaun for our wonderful day and headed inside. We'd previously decided to eat at the hotel, to give us more time to update our blogs. The food was okay, and the staff very friendly, but it just doesn't have the ambiance of the other places we've visited.
So, we sat in the lobby (where we have the best internet connection) for several hours, recounting our wonderful day.