Dorset

"..A partly real, partly dream country..."

-Thomas Hardy 

Dorset is a county on the southern coast of the United Kingdom and it is a popular destination for families to vacation. It's countryside is filled with rolling hills, stretches of beach and many historic castles. It is almost like a "dream."

Explore the county of Dorset

Story by: Lane Stafford

A group of children wearing school uniforms wander through alleyways lined with quirky shops, art studios and local cafes. Perhaps it was the smell of chocolate that enticed them to congregate outside Chococo. They seem to be unsupervised and naturally up to no good, but no one nearby seems to be concerned.   

 

Just a few blocks away, dogs free of their leash sprint down the sandy beach. The smell of fried cod and chips occasionally interrupts the salty breeze. Colorful beach huts across the street remind visitors that there are plenty of things to store for a vacation in Swanage.

 

Among the many quaint towns lining England’s southern coast, Swanage stands out with plenty of leisurely activities and historical sights to discover. The small town is the first stop on the eastern side of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site that stretches 95 miles across England. Towns located on this coast contain rocks and fossils that record more than 185 million years of history.

 

Durlston Country Park is one of the dozens of locations where visitors can explore this history. The park is a national nature reserve with a variety of wildlife to spot, a castle and a giant globe made of Portland stone, known as George Burt’s Globe.

 

However, Swanage isn’t just for the history buff traveler. The town is a popular seaside destination with shops and restaurants run by locals who welcome visitors with genuine kindness and enthusiasm, much like the rest of the country.  

Swanage 

Lucy Tidbury is one of the many locals who makes Swanage worth visiting. She owns the shop, Lucy’s Farm, where she sells her beloved “moo-selfie” paintings. Her art depicts cows “photo-bombing” well-known attractions throughout the county of Dorset including Corfe Castle, Swanage Pier and Old Harry Rocks.

 

Tidbury received a degree in Fine Art in 2007 and decided to become a full-time artist 5 years ago. To make extra money, she started painting pet portraits and found inspiration for the “moo” paintings while living on a farm in 2014. She began to showcase her work at various exhibitions and agricultural shows where the “moo-selfies” became a hit.

 

“In 2017, I decided it was time to stop painting on the dining room table and get a studio, this is when I found the shop in Swanage,” Tidbury said. “I thought it would be ideal to combine a studio space and a shop so people could come in, see me at work and also have the opportunity to purchase the artwork. It's been a great success and we finally have a dining room back.”

Lucy Tidbury owns the art shop Lucy's Farm. Ned, her Sprocker Spaniel, often accompanies her to work and loves meeting visitors. Wanderlost Magazine | Lane Stafford | Nicole Morales 

Tidbury also sells her work in 15 other shops around England, on her own website and on Etsy. She still paints personal pet portraits and finds this to be one of the most enjoyable parts of her job.

 

“I am a real dog person and have the lovely Ned, a Sprocker Spaniel, so when I get to paint other people's gorgeous pets, it’s always fun and very rewarding,” she said.

 

Lucy’s Farm is tucked in a charming courtyard where visitors can also enjoy other local treasures such as the chocolate shop Chococo or Java Independent Coffee House.

Tidbury’s admiration for her home’s creatures and landmarks echoes the hospitable and homegrown atmosphere of Swanage.

 

Durdle Door 

 

A View Worth The Picture

Story by: Nicole Morales 

Along the southern coast of England, just west of Lulworth, lies Durdle Door, an iconic limestone archway unique to Dorset’s Jurassic Coast. This UNESCO-protected National World Heritage Site resides within 95 miles of protected coastline along the Jurassic Coast.

 

Although thousands flock to take in the dramatic view, many don’t know how the nature, over 185 million years, carved the feature into the breathtaking feature it is today. Anjana Ford, Program Manager for Jurassic Coast Trust, said Durdle Door originally formed from a small cave.

 

The Portland Limestone rock was exposed to a constant barrage of wind and water, so much so that, over time, it enlarged the cave until waves punctured the back wall facing the beach. This puncture is where the feature’s name originates. In Old English, durdle is another word for ‘thirl,’ meaning to pierce or drill.

 

“The arch itself is made of a more formidable limestone than the inner inlet,” Ford said. “It consists of weaker compositions of clay and sandstone with a dramatic chalk coastline framing it.”

 

Durdle Door’s coastal support will eventually fail to reinforce the upper arch, which will then cause it to fall into the blue-green tides of the English Channel, and leave behind a freestanding pillar in its place. Ford said this pillar will too erode over time, and devolve into a stump, much like those within the horseshoe cove in adjacent Man O’War Bay.

 

This was the fate of Malta’s Azure Window, a similar natural limestone arch that collapsed on March 8, 2017. The destruction was caused by the natural weathering processes and compounded by a heavy storm.

 

However, some were quick to blame questionable filming practices of HBO’s hit series, “Game of Thrones” who used the Azure Window as a backdrop for the Dothraki wedding scene in Season One. Subcontractors for the studio were fined €86,500 by the Malta Environment and Planning Authority for damaging the protected ecosystem with construction sand.

 

Although researchers are assured that the arch won’t collapse for thousands of years, many in Dorset feared that human interference would lead to its premature destruction in 1924.

 

According to The Illustrated London News, the War Office proposed to establish a tank gunnery school at nearby Lulworth Cove. Secretary of War Stephen Walsh was allegedly met with public outrage at the House of Commons on August 4, when members of the public championed for the security of the landmark.

 

To epitomize the beauty of the landscape, photographer J. Archer wrote, “One could almost imagine the locality to have been designed by Nature as a model to illustrate the elementary facts of geology.”

 

Significant efforts have been made by UNESCO and the Weld family, owners of the Lulworth Estate and Durdle Door, to slow the inevitable force of erosion. Coastal protection schemes and management of ongoing fossil research in the area were reinforced to slow natural and human interference with the landmark.  

 

For now, thousands of visitors are drawn to the popular summer locale, and many navigate the steep descent to take in the views from sea level. From here, beachgoers enjoy the sound of the waves hitting the pebble and shingle beach echo around the chalk cliffs.

For those who want to experience the picturesque natural formation from above, various cliff paths, 630 miles of trails in total, link Studland to Minehead. Facing east from the severe western cliffs, one can see both Durdle Door and Man O’War. Due west, one can enjoy Bat’s Head, a smaller arch within the chalk coastline. A link for trail routes can be found here.

Story by: Sam MacDonald

Despite its name, New Forest National Park is anything but new. William the Conqueror made this land his hunting grounds in 1079 and created the system which governs the land which has gone almost completely unchanged for 1,000 years. Though the land has fundamentally stayed the same, it was officially made a national park in 2005 so it could be protected in the highest form.

 

The governing forces of the park consists of vereders, who act as judges, agisters, who are stockman, and commoners, who are the land-users and stock owners. Each of these roles is important in maintaining the balance and care of the land.

 

New Forest National Park stretches across 140,109 acres equalling about 567 square kilometers.

Top: A small group of ponies within the New Forest National Trust use a large hedge as some shelter against wind and mist. The ponies are owned by the townsfolk living in proximity to the trust. Wanderlost Magazine | Mary Kathryn Carpenter 

A grey pony within New Forest National Trust squints into the wind of a blustery, March day.  Wanderlost Magazine | Mary Kathryn Carpenter 

One of the New Forest National Park ponies grazes in a light rain. The pony wears a reflective collars meant to add visibility at night. Wanderlost Magazine | Sam MacDonald

According to Sue Westwood, clerk to the Verderers, the park contains “approximately 5,700 ponies and 6,900 cattle plus… about 250 donkeys, 200 sheep and some pigs…” The animals, much like the people, play an important role in keeping the land healthy.

 

The ponies, cows, donkeys and sheep graze the grasslands between the wooded parts of the forest, and can be seen wandering the park. The ponies will also eat from some low hanging tree branches. It is because of this grazing that the forest is how we see it today, without it, everything would become overrun in brush and brambles, choking out other plant life.

 

The pigs are not permanent residents of the park; however, their main role is to eat the acorn seeds that drop every year.

 

“Acorns are poisonous to ponies, cattle and donkeys, but not pigs,” Westwood said. “And, fortunately, pigs love to eat acorns.”

 

As visitors make their way through the park, they may notice that some of the animals have bands around their necks. The collars are reflective and are put on the animals in an attempt to make them more visible to nighttime drivers.

 

Sadly, because of the nature of the park and how closely wild animals live to people, a number of the creatures die every year due to traffic related accidents.

 

“The Verderers, are not keen to encourage more visitors,” Westwood said.

 

The park estimates that it receives about 15 million day visits a year and the sheer number of people in and out of the park is starting to harm the environment.

 

If you plan to visit, park officials request that you be respectful of the land and the rules that govern it so that it can keep running and remain open the to public.

Bottom: A Fallow dear bounds through underbrush at New Forest National Park. Fallow deer are just one of five breeds of deer in the park. Wanderlost Magazine | Sam MacDonald 

 

New Fores t 

 

Bournemouth

The main beach in Bournemouth is lined with colored beach huts available for rental. The pier offers a variety of attractions including zip lining, a ferris wheel, indoor rock climbing, restaurants and beach shops. Wanderlost Magazine | Sam MacDonald | Lane Stafford | Mary Kathryn Carpenter | Nicole Morales 

Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town on the south coast of England. The town centre has notable Victorian architecture, and Bournemouth’s location has made it a popular destination for tourists, attracting over five million visitors annually with its beaches and popular nightlife.

 

Bournemouth is a tourist and regional centre for leisure, entertainment, culture and recreation, with a pier, an aquarium, and wide beaches ready for vacationers. In recent years, Bournemouth has become a popular nightlife destination with UK visitors and many bars and restaurants are located within the town centre.

The town is also home to AFC Bournemouth, a professional football (soccer) club, currently ranked 14th in the premier league. The city is also home to Bournemouth University, with three locations throughout Dorset County, and more than 16,000 students enrolled across the three campuses.

Whether it’s relaxing on a deckchair, strolling along traditional seaside piers, enjoying tasty food or just admiring miles of breath-taking coast line – Bournemouth beach is the ideal location whatever the weather or time of year. The beach is also one of the safest in the UK with RNLI Lifeguards based all the way along the seven-mile stretch of beach.

 

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