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Fishink in Dorset Part 2. Maiden Castle, Chesil Beach, Shaftsbury, Fortmell Magna and more.

February 29, 2012

More from my travels from last week.  We came across Maiden Castle, the largest Hill fort in Britain.  It’s hard from the images to really appreciate it’s scale, but it is actually the size of over 50 football pitches and once home to several hundred people during the Iron Age (800 BC – 43 AD). There are many hill forts in this area, but as I said, this is by far the largest.

The trenches are really quite deep and on a sunny day the curves and undulating slopes are beautiful in the way they catch the light. I wonder how long it took to create and how many thousands of tons of earth were moved to create it. A remarkable place.

We made a slight detour to see the Hardy Monument, not as I originally thought for Thomas Hardy, author and literary god in that part of the country ! but instead erected in 1844 in memory of Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Masterman Hardy, Flag-Captain of HMS Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar. I do hope that if I ever have a monument created in my memory that it’s a much nicer shape lol.   I was vastly more inspired by the remarkable natural formation that is Chisel Beach. This shingle beach is 29 kilometres (18 miles) long, 200 metres (660 ft) wide and 15 metres (50 ft) high, and approximately over 6,000 years old. It was formed by being pushed onshore by rising sea levels, and consists of an amazing 100 million tonnes of pebbles !

It wasn’t a week without it’s high and low temperatures, here’s what one morning looked like. Brrr !

Next up the town of Shaftesbury and it’s well known Gold Hill.  Described as one of the most romantic sights in England, it’s also features on book covers, chocolate boxes and the 1973 Boy on Bike Hovis advert.

Due to the Romans liking the area of Dorset, we’re left with such great names as Blandford Forum, Kingsbury Episcopi and Fortmell Magna.  St Andrew’s Church is in the latter and is an amazing find. Apparently there has been a church on the site since before the Domesday Book of 1086, however only the lower part of the tower of the original church remains.  During 1862 – 3 it was almost completely rebuilt to a design by the Wimborne architect, George Evans, who was responsible for four other Dorset churches.  I’ve never seen so many ghoulish guardians and colourful stained glass windows in one place before.

The old post office has been lovingly restored and is now not only a place to post your letters but a delicatessen.  They offer a range of healthy local, organic produce, artisan breads, delicious cakes and coffees.  I even spied a knitted Postman Pat and his black and white cat ! You can get a feel for the area by seeing some of the other local houses.

I was also inspired to create some new beasts on my own whilst I was there.

We went for a rather wet and muddy walk around a superb area called the Illchester Estate. It is owned and controlled by the twice-married keen huntswoman Charlotte Townshend.   She also owns much of Holland Park in London and the surrounding area, large areas of the West Country, including the Fleet and Chesil Beach, no less.  We had our sandwiches in Monk’s wood next to Fuzzy Grounds and marvelled at the beautiful woodland.  This first tree had a whole forest of Ivy growing up the trunk.

There’s a final instalment on Dorset life to come on friday.  You didn’t know this was a trilogy did you lol

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Julian permalink
    February 29, 2012 11:17 am

    That a great narrative and collage of pictures, thanks.

  2. ssarahlou permalink
    February 29, 2012 11:10 pm

    Would love to c more of your new creatures . Especially Mr Humbug the horse…..he’s bound to b an interesting character. X x x

    • March 1, 2012 10:22 am

      Ah how lovely that Mr Humbug gave you a voice again on here 🙂 He’d love to catch up with you too. Let’s arrange. x

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