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.
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.
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.
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.
Our relatively brand new tent sprang a leak quite early on in our holiday, around one of the airbeams. This leak was closely followed by another and another and another.
Some of Tuesday was spent finding a camping shop and we were able to buy a temporary repair kit to seal the tent.
By Wednesday, the weather was warm and dry again, but still windy, and we needed a nice relaxing day to recover from the preceding trauma.
So we went to visit RSPB Arne near Swanage. We’re members of the RSPB and it’s another reserve that allows dogs.
Because it was a nice day, the poet was also able to have another play with his camera, playing with bokeh and bracketing again.
The picture of the pink blindweed to the right is an example of bokeh.
Surprisingly, we didn’t actually see much birdlife. But there is a diversity of landscape – woodland, heathland and, of course, coastland.
There was a small information centre in the car park where recent sightings could be written on a whiteboard. (I think the poet added 2 sightings to the board, a chiffchaff and a curlew …)
They also have binoculars to borrow and, if found to be useful, for sale. We’re already members of the RSPB and we already have several pairs of binoculars!
Also very close by is a very nice café. It’s new and clean and with unisex toilets.
I walked in to see if there was any tap water available for the dog’s bottle, and they had a specially prepared bottle in the fridge for such occasions.
We were so impressed with the whole place that we decided to stay for lunch and let them have some more revenue.
I had a jacket potato – I’d been yearning for one for a few days – and the poet had another ploughman’s lunch. And we had cake for pudding. Mine was a lemon syrup Victoria sandwich-type cake, the poet’s was … chocolate, I think. And it was very yummy.
After RSPB Arne we headed back towards the campsite via Wareham, and on the outskirts we made a minor detour to see the so-called “Blue Pool” …
Well … When I visited the Blue Pool nearly 30 years ago I remember feeling somewhat … underwhelmed.
It was quite a basic beauty spot in those days and I don’t remember paying an admission.
I remember standing on the shore and wondering why they called it blue. It was more a murky green.
That day the weather can’t have been so great.
This time, I was quite shocked to see that it would cost us £6 each (TWELVE POUNDS!) to get in, although the car park is, I think, still free. I hoped they’d done something to justify such a high admission fee, and they had – of a fashion.
There’s a nice tea room there now that I don’t remember from before (but that doesn’t mean anything, I just might not have been able to afford it). There’s also a little souvenir shop and a museum, and the site is now home to the Wareham Bears … whoever they are.
BUT … the water is still a murky green … until the sun catches it just right. And you need to be above the water level to see the full benefit, although some of the paths are closed for safety, due to erosion.
So I’m afraid I still remain rather unimpressed, especially when we paid an extortionate amount to get in.
However … if you intend to spend the entire day there, then I think it’s more worth it. And, of course, dogs are welcome again if kept on leads (there were some there not on leads …). Take a picnic, go on one of the walks, visit the museum and the Wareham Bears (!), have a coffee in the tea rooms (just to be awkward). But I don’t think we’ll be going back again.
Saying that, the poet did have chance to practise his bracketing again, and as it was less windy by now, I think this one was quite successful.