Camping: Corfe Castle Day 6 – The Cerne Abbas Giant, July/August 2016

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The Cerne Abbas Giant (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Friday was our last full day in Dorset and we had a lot of packing to do. So the navigator (moi) selected a magical mystery drive to see one of Dorset’s oldest attractions. The Cerne Abbas Giant.

It took us a while to find him, we found the village first. But once we got our bearings, we found our way to the viewpoint that looks right at him.

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Ian & Diane at the Cerne Abbas Giant (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The Cerne giant is the biggest chalk hill figure in Britain. He’s managed by the National Trust and is thought to be one of the oldest.

However, as there is no record of him before Oliver Cromwell’s time, experts can’t be sure whether he’s an ancient fertility symbol or, in fact, a mockery of Cromwell.

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The Cerne Abbas Giant (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

There is also an ancient “trendle” at the site, which is an earthwork just above the giant’s shoulder. This is believed to date back to the Iron Age and is still used today by Morris dancers.

The little car park that is used to view the giant is a lovely roadside place to take a picnic. There is another car park down the hill, though, that also serves the village.

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Corfe Castle village (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We had a lovely week in beautiful Dorset. The poet was quite surprised at how pretty and historic it really is. And when I’d suggested Swanage to him, he didn’t even know where it was.

We did end up a few miles away from Swanage at the village of Corfe Castle, which we also loved. And we had such a nice time on the Isle of Purbeck that we hope to come again soon, perhaps in the spring.

Then we might be able to visit all the places we weren’t able to this time: upstairs at Hardy’s Cottage; a walk to the Agglestone Rock; even Corfe Castle itself, if it isn’t so raving busy due to a programme of outdoor events that we can’t park anywhere.

We might also get onto a Camping & Caravan Club site too …

There are places we may go to again, such as RSPB Arne, the breathtaking Jurassic Coast, and Portland Bill. And there are places we don’t have to visit again.

I hope you enjoyed our little tour with us.

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Corfe Castle at dusk (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Camping: Corfe Castle Day 5 – Hardy’s Cottage & Portland Bill, July/August 2016

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Hardy’s Cottage (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we were in the Lake District it was natural for us to visit properties relating to William Wordsworth. Sometimes several times.

And when we’re in Dorset, it’s only proper to then visit properties relating to Thomas Hardy. Or one of them at least – Hardy’s birthplace or Hardy’s Cottage.

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Hardy’s Cottage (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Again, it has been 30 years since the last time I was here and, again, it’s changed quite a lot.

Well, the house itself is pretty much the same, but it’s busier and the teeny tiny car park that used to be is much, much bigger.

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Hardy’s Cottage (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Something else that’s new is the possibility to help yourself to potatoes grown in the kitchen garden here. I wonder if the same applies to other produce.

There’s a birthplace visitor centre at the house too, and a woodland walk. Once again, dogs are allowed in the grounds so long as they are kept on leads, and there are water bowls for them too. But they’re not allowed in the house.

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Cottages on the walk back to the car park from Hardy’s Cottage (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

This is usually fine as one of us waits outside with the dog while the other one goes around. But only 8 visitors are allowed upstairs at a time and this can mean long waits.

So we both only looked at the downstairs and enjoyed the lovely little cottage garden in the sunshine.

As we’d walked through the woodland to get to the house, we chose to walk back via the lane to the car park, where we saw this row of cottages (right).

Then we were back in the car and back on the road and heading south-west towards Weymouth and Portland.

We drove along Chesil Beach, something I didn’t do on any of the last 2 visits to the area. And we carried on to Portland and the home of Portland stone.

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Portland Bill – perspective (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We were headed towards something on the map called “Rufus” (in red), but we didn’t find it and we have no idea what it was/is.

And as I’d never been to Portland Bill (unless we came when I was a baby, and don’t remember it), and as the poet had asked for a visit to see the sea today, that’s where I navigated us to.

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Portland Bill Lighthouse (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We both loved it. It was fine and dry but windy, so the waves were crashing against the rocks.

One particular boulder has a carved sign on it saying visitors climb at their own risk as it’s liable to erosion … but of course, there’s always someone that has to have a go, and there are hand and foot holes up that flat face of rock.

The picture on the left, above, though, is for perspective. (We have no idea who those people are.)

We didn’t visit the lighthouse. It was already late in the day and it was quite windy. But we did take a few photographs.

The picture below shows the current lighthouse in the foreground and an older one in the background. There’s a third lighthouse here too, but we don’t know if they were ever in use.

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Portland Bill Lighthouse (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)